Unilever continues frozen foods exit strategy
01 August 2012
Unilever is selling its Bertolli and PF Chang’s frozen meals business in North America to ConAgra Foods for $265m.
The business includes premium frozen entrees and appetizers under the two brands. As part of the deal, Unilever’s existing license with PF Chang’s for the use of its home menu brand will transfer to ConAgra and a license for the use of the Bertolli brand name is also included. However, Unilever will keep the Bertolli trademark and retain its pasta sauce business.
The sale does not include the Kentucky-based facility currently used to produce the frozen meals but equipment key to the manufacturing process will be transferred to an existing ConAgra Foods facility.
ConAgra’s acquisition of the business is its second expansion into the frozen foods category this year. The company also acquired frozen breakfast brand Odom’s Tennessee Pride in May.
The move is part of Unilever’s current global strategy to exit the frozen foods market. The FMCG company has previously shed its European frozen foods units, the bulk of which were sold off in 2006 with the final part sold in 2010.
“Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s frozen meals are two attractive businesses with a focus on quality ingredients and differentiated technology,” says Unilever president of North America Kees Kruythoff.
Combined, the Bertolli and PF Chang’s brands generated approximately $300m in revenue in 2011. Unilever does not own all of the Bertolli business and sold off the brand’s olive oil and vinegar segment in 2008 to Spanish Grupo SOS for $775m.
ConAgra Foods owns a large portfolio of US food brands including Reddi-wip, Slim Jim and Orville Redenbacher’s. The group also supplies ingredients to several restaurants in a business-to-business capacity.
David Hing, London