• Bloomberg report claims Snyder's-Lance could sell
  • Rumoured interest from ConAgra, Ralcorp, TreeHouse 
Snyders-Lance could up focus on brands

Snyder's-Lance could up focus on brands

US snack firm Snyder's-Lance is reported to be in negotiations to offload its own-label snacks business Vista.

Citing two unnamed sources, Bloomberg said ConAgra Foods, TreeHouse Foods and Ralcorp Holdings are interested in the unit, which could be sold for around US$350m.

Snyder's-Lance did not respond to a request for comment. Speaking to just-food, a ConAgra spokesperson said the company, which has added to its private-label business in recent months, "does not comment on rumours or speculation".

Own-label specialists TreeHouse and Ralcorp could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.

Earlier this month, Snyder's-Lance reported a fall in third-quarter sales after deciding to stop supplying own-label lines to certain customers that did not accept the company's requests for price increases.

In August, when Snyder's-Lance filed its half-year numbers, COO Carl Lee said the company faced a "hill to climb" in the own-label sector amid the pressures of trying to push through price increases but also dealing with weak consumer confidence.

In September, it bought a branded business, US cracker firm Snack Factory, for US$340m.

The same month, ConAgra confirmed it was looking for more acquisitions after a year of deals, including National Pretzel Co., which sells branded and own-label lines.

Last year, ConAgra failed to buy Ralcorp, which rejected a number of bids from the company and instead split itself in two. Ralcorp formed branded cereal company Post Holdings and now focuses on own-label.

TreeHouse acquired dressings and sauces firm Naturally Fresh in March. Yesterday (15 November), BB&T Capital Markets Heather Jones said TreeHouse had told analysts it was "evaluating both bolt-on and large-scale transactions".

Jones said: "On the overall M&A environment, TreeHouse believes 2013 will be robust driven by the sale of non-core assets by strategic sellers and harvesting of investments by private equity groups. Given almost $300m of available revolver capacity and growing cash reserves, we believe that TreeHouse has ample dry powder to continue to capitalize on its key competitive advantages of acquiring and integrating assets in a fragmented space."