PadillaCRT, one of the largest independent PR agencies in the Midwest, has acquired food and nutrition communications and consulting shop FoodMinds LLC. The merger effectively establishes Minneapolis-based PadillaCRT as one of the largest independent food and beverage agencies in the country.

Terms of the transaction were not publicly disclosed.

Chicago-based FoodMinds was founded in 2006. The agency, which staffs 35, opened a Washington D.C. office in 2014 and a San Francisco outpost the following year. Clients include General Mills, Monsanto, Nestlé and Welch’s, among others. FoodMinds in 2015 accounted for nearly $8.3 million in food-related net fees, ranking as one of O'Dwyer's top-five firms for food and beverage PR.

FoodMinds will now operate as a division of PadillaCRT and will collaborate on joint assignments with that agency’s existing food and beverage practice, whose clients include U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Prosciutto di Parma, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, Les Vins Georges Duboeuf and Wines from Rioja. Aside from the removal of the LLC designation, the FoodMinds name will remain the same, and agency staff and office locations will not be affected by the acquisition. FoodMinds partners Laura Cubillos, Bill Layden and Sue Pitman now take the title of PadillaCRT executive vice presidents.

Cubillos, who co-founded the agency, told O’Dwyer’s that FoodMinds is “thrilled to team up with an independent, well-established firm that shares our values and counsels its clients courageously.”

“Joining an employee-owned agency allows our people more potential career growth and fuller development,” Cubillos said. “It offers our clients expanded capabilities in digital, social and creative and enables us to take a leap forward in terms of intellectual property and the value we bring to our clients.”

For the past four years, both agencies have worked in concert for a shared client, Hass Avocado Board. PadillaCRT CEO Lynn Casey told O’Dwyer’s that FoodMinds’ work on that account convinced the agency that FoodMinds made a formidable team with which it can pursue its clients’ goals together.

“We are like-minded in our desire to further the kind of culture that enables our team members to thrive in every aspect of their lives — at work and beyond,” Casey said.

PadillaCRT, which maintains additional offices in New York, Los Angeles and Alexandria and Richmond, VA, was founded in 1961. Formerly known as Padilla Speer Beardsley, the Minneapolis-based agency in 2013 acquired Richmond, VA-based shop CRT/tanaka, a merger that birthed the Padilla CRT name. The agency in 2015 accounted for nearly $35 million in net fees, according to O’Dwyer’s rankings of PR firms.