A number of interested parties have reportedly emerged for Ebro Foods‘ pasta operations in North America, assets the Spanish group is open to selling.

Spanish business daily Expansión has reported there are six entities eyeing the business, which is based in Pennsylvania and has brands including Ronzoni.

Ebro said in February it was ready to start listening to offers for the assets, which the company acquired in 2006.

Approached by just-food today (3 July), an Ebro spokesperson declined to comment.

Citing unnamed sources, Expansión said the suitors included trade and financial entities. The newspaper said not every suitor is interested in the entire division.

A sale would be the latest in a number of M&A transactions at Ebro, which has bought and sold a range of assets in recent years, including the purchase of UK rice supplier Tilda and the disposal of French-Spanish organic and plant-based food business Alimentation Santé, both in 2019.

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In the first quarter of 2020, Ebro’s overall pasta business, which also includes operations in France and Italy, saw its turnover rise. The division posted a turnover of EUR380.8m (US$427.7m), up from EUR327.9m a year earlier. The onset of Covid-19 led to higher demand in March, with Ebro’s pasta sales almost doubling in Europe and in Canada. Growth was “slightly lower” in the US, Ebro said, as lockdowns began later.

In 2019, Ebro said healthier products “performed well” in Canada, while in the US, its pasta business “returned to normal” after the distribution “difficulties” in the north east of the country. Overall, Ebro’s pasta division posted turnover of EUR1.31bn in 2019, versus EUR1.22bn in 2018.

According to research from GlobalData, the value of the dried pasta market in the US was US$2.74bn in 2018. It is a market GlobalData forecasts will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.1% between 2018 and 2023 to a value of $3.19bn.

GlobalData is forecasting faster growth in chilled pasta sales, which it estimates will grow at a CAGR of 4.4% to $410.1m by 2023.