Tyson Foods and Post Foods have reportedly been short listed as possible buyers in the sale process for US protein group Michael Foods.

According to Reuters, citing unnamed sources, Tyson and Post have emerged as final contenders in the acquisition battle for the firm, which is expected to generate US$2.5bn.

Michael Foods manufactures products under the Papetti's, Crystal Farms, AllWhites and Simply Potatoes brands. The group generates annual sales of around $1.5bn.

Michael Foods was acquired in 2010 by Goldman Sachs' investment arm GS Capital Partners for $1.7bn. Rumours that Goldman Sachs was seeking to offload the business emerged at the end of last year.

Speculation has largely focused on Tyson as a potential strategic buyer. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment when contacted by just-food today (14 April).

Tyson Foods is expanding its stable of value-added brands. It has indicated it wants to increase exposure to prepared foods in order to offset some of the swings in commodity prices associated with the protein markets.

Last year, sales of prepared foods accounted for just 10% of group revenue. However, Tyson plans to grow value-added sales and the company has realigned its management structure to reflect this aim - separating its prepared foods and chicken operating units.

Meanwhile, acquisitive Post said it grew first-quarter sales by one-quarter in February. Revenue was boosted by the contribution of recently-acquired Attune Foods and Premier Nutrition Corp, although higher interest costs hit the bottom line. In the same month, the firm revealed a deal to acquire the PowerBar and Musashi brands from Nestle.

Post and Michael Foods did not return requests for comment at time of press.