PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) — Smart Balance Inc. has struck a $66.3 million gluten-free deal.

The food company announced Wednesday that it has acquired the equity interest of Importations DE-RO-MA, which owns Glutino Food Group, from Claridge, a Canadian investment firm.

Glutino is a manufacturer of gluten-free foods sold under the Glutino and Gluten Free Pantry brands. The company had annual sales of $53.9 million during its fiscal year and has increased its sales roughly 30 percent annually over the past three years, according to Smart Balance.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Some people are allergic to the product.

Smart Balance is using existing credit to fund the all-cash deal.

The company said the deal will help build its health products portfolio and respond to the growing demand for gluten-free products.

Shares of the company rose 18 cents, nearly or 3.9 percent, to close at $4.86.