Yoplait Zero on sale in the UK, November 2019

Yoplait Zero on sale in the UK, November 2019

General Mills is reportedly mulling starting a process to sell its majority stake in yogurt business Yoplait.

According to reports in France, the US giant has asked Morgan Stanley to advise the company on its options.

General Mills acquired 51% of Yoplait in 2011 in a multi-faceted deal. The Old El Paso meals and Nature Valley snack bars owner owns 51% of Yoplait SAS and 50% of a second entity – Yoplait Marques SNC – that owns the Yoplait and associated trademarks. The marks are licensed to Yoplait SAS.

The other shareholder in both entities is French dairy co-op Sodiaal, which supplies milk to Yoplait SAS.

According to Les Echos, Sodiaal has the right of first refusal on the General Mills shareholdings. 

just-food has contacted General Mills and Sodiaal for comment on the French reports.

General Mills periodically provides colour on the performance of its overall yogurt business, which also includes brands such as Go-Gurt and Liberté.

In the year to the end of May, General Mills' yogurt sales to US retail customers fell 1%, a result the company said was "largely in line with last year's performance" but which contained higher sales from products such as Original Style Yoplait and Go-Gurt.

General Mills also disclosed yogurt sales from the company's combined Europe & Australia division rose at a "mid-single-digit" rate in the fourth quarter of that financial year.

Yogurt has proved a challenging category for General Mills, particularly in the US, where rapid market growth in the 2000s drove competition and fierce promotional activity.

Last week, the group reported the financial results for the first quarter of its new financial year. General Mills included Yoplait in a clutch of brands in which the company was "holding or growing share", stipulating that was the case for the Yoplait business in the US, Canada and France.

In General Mills' 2019 financial year, the company sold its Yoplait business in China.