ConAgra To Acquire Bertolli and P.F. Chang's From Unilever

July 30, 2012
Is Unilever exiting the food business?

ConAgra Foods Inc., Omaha, Neb., on July 30 announced it has a definitive agreement to acquire the Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s Home Menu frozen meals businesses from Unilever PLC for a total cash consideration of $265 million.

With annual sales approaching $300 million, the Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s businesses are leaders in the frozen multi-serve meals segment. Those frozen meals currently are produced in a Unilever facility that is not included in the sale. As part of the acquisition, key manufacturing equipment will be relocated to an existing ConAgra Foods facility.

There have been rumors that Unilever PLC has been shopping its entire food business to embark on a major restructuring, probably focusing on personal care products. In 2006 and 2010, it sold off its frozen food businesses (except for ice cream) in Europe, and last October Unilever sold four US food brands to B&G Foods.

The agreement includes a license for the use of the Bertolli brand name and the transfer of Unilever’s existing license with P.F. Chang’s for use of that name.

The acquisition would really pump up ConAgra’s position in the freezer case. The company already has brands such as Marie Callender’s, Banquet, Healthy Choice and Kid Cuisine, but does not have any bagged dinners for two, nor authentically ethnic products.

“Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s multi-serve frozen meals are excellent additions to our portfolio. We’ll use our extensive frozen food and innovation capabilities to grow these great brands even further,” said Gary Rodkin, ConAgra CEO. “Just as our acquisition earlier this year of Odom’s Tennessee Pride extended our reach into frozen breakfasts, the addition of Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s brands can bring us new consumers and new eating occasions.”

When complete, this acquisition will support ConAgra Foods’ growth strategy, which includes growing its core businesses and expanding into adjacent categories, building its private label business and continuing to develop its international presence. This will be the fifth acquisition in the last 12 months for ConAgra, following the acquisitions of National Pretzel Co., Del Monte Canada, Odom’s Tennessee Pride and the pita chip business of Kangaroo Brands.

The acquisition is expected to close in August or September.

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