US food distributor Performance Food Group has said it has begun the process of exploring strategic alternatives for its fresh-cut produce business.

Performance Food Group's fresh-cut division, whose brands include Fresh Express packaged salads, had annual sales of US$933m in 2003. The division purchases, processes, packages and distributes a variety of ready-to-eat salads and other fresh-cut produce offerings to food retailers, foodservice distributors, operators and quick-service restaurants nationwide.

"Since our company's inception, we have committed significant effort toward building our fresh-cut business to its current leadership position in the industry," said Bob Sledd, Performance Food's chairman and CEO.

"As we assess the future of Performance Food Group and consider the changing balance in our business between foodservice distribution and fresh produce processing, we believe that it is the appropriate time to evaluate strategic alternatives to continue the growth of the fresh-cut segment while considering the best interests of our shareholders, customers and our associates," Sledd added.

The company said the alternatives to be evaluated include, but are not limited to, the possible sale of the division as an ongoing business; the creation of a stand-alone company operating the fresh-cut business; or keeping the fresh-cut division as part of the company.