US dairy giant Dean Foods has said it is considering the sale of its Morningstar business, a producer of creams and cultured dairy products for foodservice and own-label firms.

Dean Foods issued a statement yesterday (26 September) after a Reuters report said the company had hired investment bank Evercore Partners to tout the business to potential buyers. Citing unnamed people close to the situation, Reuters said Morningstar had mostly attracted interest from private-equity firms.

Dean Foods said it had “recently decided to explore a transaction that may result in the sale of the Morningstar business”.

It added: “The company has not yet identified a buyer for Morningstar, but believes the business possesses an attractive portfolio in a growing marketplace and a top-notch management team. The company only intends to sell the Morningstar business if it can do so in a transaction that maximises shareholder value and helps ensure the future success of the business.”

According to Sanford Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard, 64% of Morningstar’s sales were to foodservice customers last year.

The news comes as Dean Foods looks to spin off part of its WhiteWave-Alpro business by the end of the year. WhiteWave-Alpro manufactures brands including Alpro and Silk soy milk.

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Dean Foods’ other division is Fresh Dairy Direct, which supplies liquid milk and ice cream to US retailers.