McCormick & Co has agreed to sell its packaging business to Kerr Group for US$142.5m, including trade liabilities, in order to focus on its core spices and seasoning business.

McCormick said the disposal would result in a 7 cents decrease in full-year earnings per share from continuing operations and a fall in sales of $171m.

"McCormick indicated last year that the packaging business was not a strategic part of our food business and was under review," chief executive Robert Lawless was quoted by Reuters as saying. "Following the completion of this transaction, McCormick will be fully focused on our core business of spices, seasonings and flavours," he said.

The company said it would use the proceeds from the sale, which is expected to be completed during the third quarter, to lower its debt related to its recent purchase of flavour-brand Zatarain for $180m.