Swiss food giant Nestlé has reportedly hired bankers to sell its Herta packaged meat business after previously announcing it was putting the operation up for strategic review.

Rothschild has been selected to undertake the sale of the frankfurter maker, according to news agency Reuters, quoting unnamed sources, one of whom said a deal could fetch around CHF500m (US$499.6m).

Another of the news agency’s sources said German-based meat producer Reinert Group is among the potential buyers, along with private-equity firms.  

Nestlé chief executive Mark Schneider told analysts and investors in a post-earnings announcement earlier in February that the planned disposal of Herta “underscores [an] increased focus on high-growth plant-based offerings”.  

Zurich-listed Nestlé is also seeking to offload its skin health division as the company increases its focus on healthy foods. Other recent business disposals include the US confectionery operations – sold to Italy’s Ferrero – its dairy and cold sauces assets in Malaysia, and the Serbian chocolate brand Cipiripi. Outside of food, the company sold its Gerber Life Insurance business.

On the acquisition front, it bought Ecuador-based Terrafertil, which makes organic and plant-based foods, building on the purchase of Sweet Earth the previous year, a similar business based in the US.

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In its latest annual earnings statement issued in February, Nestlé said: “Our unique nutrition, health and wellness strategy, with food, beverage and nutritional health products at its core, has become much clearer as we completed a sizeable number of transactions and announced strategic reviews for Nestlé Skin Health and Herta.” 

The previously announced review of the Herta business covered operations in France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, the UK and Ireland, although Nestlé said it would continue to develop the unit’s branded dough and vegetarian operations.