Blog: Dean BestPure-play SunOpta ready to flex muscles in food

Dean Best | 16 February 2016

SunOpta is a group that spans being a B2B supplier of ingredients, a private-label manufacturer and a co-packer. In industrial minerals, the Canada-based company has also had a majority stake in a business outside food but, after finding a buyer, it is now ready to focus squarely on our sector.

On Friday (12 February), SunOpta announced an affiliate of private-equity firm Speyside Equity Fund would buy "substantially all the shares" in Opta Minerals. SunOpta owns a 66% stake in Opta Minerals.

In the summer of 2014, SunOpta revealed the board of Opta Minerals had hired Houlihan Lokey to advise it on the "strategic alternatives" for the business. Pending approval from all of Opta Minerals' shareholders, a sale of the business looks to be on.

"The sale of Opta Minerals represents a significant milestone, and we are pleased to be concluding this chapter of our company's history as it paves the way for SunOpta to truly become a pure-play healthy and organic foods company," SunOpta president and CEO Rik Jacobs said. "Following completion of the deal, our entire team will be able to focus solely on the growth and strategic priorities of our vertically-integrated international foods business."

Last month, SunOpta and Jacobs gave an indication on the company's central focus in 2016. SunOpta generates the majority of its sales through its ingredients division and the unit enjoyed growth of around 30% last year.

Speaking at the ICR investment conference in Florida last month, Jacobs said SunOpta would this year turn to its consumer products division, which supplies non-dairy beverages, frozen fruit, snacks and chilled juice. Last year, SunOpta saw its profitability come under pressure as it invested in expanding the capacity of its consumer products businesses. The company hopes with the additional capacity comes better cost absorption and improved profitability.

Click here for more on Jacobs' comments at the ICR conference.

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