Unilever said today (12 August) it had struck a deal to sell its Wish-Bone and Western dressings brands to US food group Pinnacle Foods for US$580m.
The agreement does not include Unilever’s facility in Independence in Missouri where the brands are manufactured. The factory will produce the dressings for Pinnacle.
Reports emerged in June that Unilever was looking for a buyer for the business. Pinnacle and fellow US food group B&G Foods were soon said to be eyeing the assets.
Wish-Bone and Western generate annual turnover of around $190m, Unilever said. The brands will join a Pinnacle stable that includes Bernstein’s salad dressings, as well as products from Nalley chili and Husman’s potato chips.
Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever’s North American operations, said Wish-Bone is “an iconic brand and the number-one Italian dressings brand in the US”.
However, Kruythoff added: “We believe that the potential of both the Wish-Bone and Western brands can now be more fully realised with Pinnacle Foods. As we continue to shape our portfolio to deliver sustainable growth for Unilever, this change will give us the focus to drive growth behind our core foods portfolio.”
The deal is subject to regulatory approval but Unilever said the transaction is expected to be closed by the early part of the fourth quarter.
Unilever has been offloading food businesses it no longer deems central to its future.
Earlier this year, Unilever sold US-based peanut butter business Skippy to Hormel Foods.
In 2012, Unilever’s North American frozen meals arm was sold to ConAgra Foods. A year earlier, it agreed to sell four US brands, including Mrs Dash salt-free seasonings, to B&G.
In Europe, Unilever’s recent disposals include Turkish industrial bakery and oils business Unipro to food ingredients group AAK. The company is also understood to be looking to offload meat snacks business Peperami.