US food business Campbell Soup Co. announced it has signed an agreement to sell Garden Fresh Gourmet to an affiliate of Fountain of Health USA for an undisclosed sum.
The sale is part of the soup and snack giant’s plan to divest its Campbell Fresh and Campbell International businesses to “increase the company’s focus, significantly reduce debt and strengthen its balance sheet”. It said the processes to sell Bolthouse Farms, also part of its Fresh division, and Campbell International, are both on-track, and that it expects to name buyers by the end of July.
Fountain of Health is a maker of hummus, dips, variety packs, prepared salads, pâtés, and frozen desserts.
Campbell bought Michigan-based Garden Fresh Gourmet in June 2015 for US$231m as it built up its fresh foods division. It also manufactures hummus, dips and tortilla chips, both under the Garden Fresh Gourmet brand and as private-label products.
Campbell said the the transaction is expected to close in its fiscal 2019 third quarter.
Last week, Campbell announced the sale of its refrigerated soup plant in Everett, Washington, which was also part of Campbell Fresh, to an affiliate of local investment firm Joshua Green Corp.
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It was in August that Campbell revealed that, as part of the company’s board-led strategy and portfolio review, it would be divesting its Campbell Fresh and Campbell International businesses.
It made the decision following a tough few months. In May, chief executive officer Denise Morrison stepped down after the company announced huge third-quarter losses.
The company then fought a bitter battle for control with activist investor and minority shareholder Third Point, which led to Campbell adding two of the private-equity firm’s picks to its board at an annual meeting in November.
Former Pinnacle Foods chief Mark Clouse was appointed as Campbell’s new CEO in December.