Cargill Inc. is taking a large step toward more natural nutrition for animals with the acquisition of Diamond V, a 75-year-old animal health and nutrition business in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Although terms of the deal were not released, a Cargill spokesman said Tuesday it ranks among the top five acquisitions in the company's history, including its $2.1 billion purchase of the Dutch animal feed company Provimi in 2011 and its $1.5 billion purchase in 2015 of EWOS, a Norwegian-based salmon feed maker.

The Minnetonka-based agrigiant — one of the largest private companies in the world — is already a major global trader of animal nutrition products and services, including feed, pre-mixes and feed additives, and it seeks to become more transparent and in sync with changing consumer attitudes about where food comes from and how it was produced.

"This acquisition strengthens Cargill's and Diamond V's shared vision to be a leader in creating new solutions for evolving consumer preferences for sustainable and wholesome food production," said David MacLennan, Cargill's chairman and chief executive, in a statement.

Diamond V has a history of developing immune support technologies that work naturally with the biology of an animal to strengthen its immune system and promote a healthy digestive system, Diamond V officials said. That in turn enhances animal health, animal performance and food safety, they said.

The deal includes all Diamond V businesses, including human health business Embria Health Sciences.

Diamond V's headquarters will stay in Cedar Rapids. The firm employs about 315 people and markets its products in 70 different countries through six business units.

Combining Cargill's resources and global reach with Diamond V's scientists and technical experts will allow the new organization to provide "world-class, innovative technologies and solutions to the global animal health and nutrition industry," said Jeff Cannon, Diamond V president and CEO.

Cargill's acquisition follows its recent investment in Delacon, an Austrian firm and global leader in plant-based additives. That business specializes in natural ingredients, herbs, spices and other plant extracts as an alternative for livestock farmers who are trying to develop antibiotic-free feeding programs and shift away from chemically modified feeds.

Officials estimate that the global animal feed additives market is a $20 billion industry.

The transaction is expected to close in January 2018, subject to regulatory approval.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388