Hormel Foods Corp. has purchased pork processor Clougherty Packing Co. for $186 million in a move to improve its competitive position in the Southwest.

Clougherty distributes fresh-cut pork, bacon, sausages and cooked hams under the Farmer John brand name. The Los Angeles-based, family-owned company was founded in 1931. It had sales in 2003 of $370 million.

The acquisition by Austin, MN-based Hormel Foods will enable the company to boost production to meet anticipated demand for its products.

Hormel is the maker of Spam, Cure 81 hams, fresh pork, Jennie-O turkey products and Dinty Moore beef stews.