Conagra to shed Canadian processed vegetable, fruit business

The company behind Arctic Gardens, Graves and Bonduelle canned and frozen vegetables in Canada is set to add the Del Monte brand to its roster.

Conagra Brands, which makes and sells Del Monte processed fruits and vegetables in the Canadian market, announced Tuesday it will sell that business to France’s Bonduelle Group for $43 million.

“We continue to reshape our portfolio and focus resources in areas that best support our business strategy and drive value creation for shareholders,” Sean Connolly, CEO for Chicago-based Conagra, said in a release.

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Bonduelle, in a separate release, noted the deal “excludes all industrial and personnel assets” because the company will use co-packers along with its own “existing production capabilities” to handle the Del Monte business.

Conagra’s 40 plants in North America include sites at Dresden, Ont., north of Chatham, and at Boisbriand in the Montreal area, but a company spokesperson said Tuesday the Del Monte products are made by a third party, thus there’ll be “no impacts to jobs or facilities.”

According to Bonduelle, the Del Monte vegetable business in Canada today books annual revenues of around $60 million.

Bonduelle said it expects the business to “complement” its Bonduelle Americas Long Life unit, whose goods today are sold mainly under retailers’ store brands.

Bonduelle also said the deal also “highlights the group’s desired development in brand activities and expansion beyond vegetables to vegetable products.”

Del Monte, Connolly said, “is a strong brand in Canada with quality products, and we believe the Del Monte processed fruit and vegetable business will continue to thrive under Bonduelle’s ownership.”

Conagra had bought the business in 2012 from Toronto investment firm Sun Capital Partners.

The Bonduelle Group has operated in Canada since 2007, when it bought full control of vegetable processor Aliments Carriere, and expanded its reach by buying processors Family Tradition and Omstead in 2009.

Bonduelle now produces canned and frozen vegetables at eight Canadian plants out of 54 facilities worldwide, which also include four U.S. plants and one in Brazil.

The deal doesn’t involve any of Del Monte’s fresh fruit or vegetable businesses, operated by Fresh Del Monte Produce, nor its juice business in Canada, operated by Quebec processor Industries Lassonde.

Conagra and Bonduelle said they expect to close their deal before the end of May, subject to the usual closing conditions. — AGCanada.com Network

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