Dutch food group Wessanen has claimed "the first step" in its plans to offload its branded and distribution operations in North America with the sale of US food importer Liberty Richter.

Wessanen, which is in the throes of a company-wide revamp in a bid to focus on Europe, said today (20 November) it had sold Liberty Richter to US distributor World Fine Foods for an undisclosed sum.

World Fine Foods has had management control of Liberty Richter since 2006 after an outsourcing deal with Wessanen.

The distributor's links with Wessanen run deeper; Tree of Life, the US natural and organic food group owned by Wessanen, owns a 45.2% stake in World Fine Foods.

Wessanen, meanwhile, is looking to sell Tree of Life by the end of the year. Last month, when the Dutch food group announced plans to sell two European frozen food units, Karl Kemper and Righi, it said its ambition to sell Tree of Life was "progressing according to plan".

Officials at Wessanen could not be reached for immediate comment.