Conagra Sells Wesson to Canadian Firm

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Jan 02, 2019

Conagra Brands has announced the sale of Wesson, its iconic cooking oil brand, to a Canadian company, six months after federal regulators nixed its sale to J.M. Smucker.

Wesson, the leading brand of vegetable and canola cooking oils, will go to Richardson International, Canada’s largest grain dealer, under a deal announced in mid-December. The sale will include the Wesson production facility in Memphis, Tenn.

Terms of the sale were not announced, but Conagra had struck a deal last spring for Wesson with J.M. Smucker for $285 million. That deal unraveled when the Federal Trade Commission objected that it would leave some 70% of the U.S. branded cooking oil market in the hands of Smucker, which already owns Crisco.

Richardson, which owns an oat mill in Nebraska, is looking to both diversify from grain products and gain a greater foothold in the U.S., a spokesperson said.

In a sense, being sold to a Canadian company is a homecoming for Wesson’s canola products. Canola oil was developed from rapeseed in the early 1970s by Canadian researchers, which is where the name derives.

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