A few months after it was rumored to be shopping its yogurt business, General Mills has crafted a swap with Yoplait co-owner Sodiall. Big G will sell its 51 percent controlling interest in Yoplait SAS (the global business) to Sodiall in exchange for full ownership of the Canadian Yoplait business and a reduced royalty rate for use of the Yoplait and Liberté brands in the U.S. and Canada.
General Mills would acquire Sodiaal’s 49 percent ownership of Yoplait Canada Holding Co., making Yoplait Canada, which generated $290 million in sales in fiscal 2020, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Mills. Big G already fully owns the business in the U.S. Together, U.S. and Canadian sales totaled $1.4 billion, but yogurt has been an under-performer for the company for at least three years. A French financial publication last October reported General Mills was looking to sell its Yoplait business.
Following the transaction, Yoplait SAS would operate yogurt businesses in France, the United Kingdom and certain other markets and manage a network of 28 franchisees manufacturing and distributing Yoplait branded products in more than 40 countries around the world. Sales for the Yoplait SAS business totaled $740 million in fiscal 2020.
In 1965, six French dairy co-operatives merged to become Sodima; the name was changed to Sodiaal in 1989. They named their leading yogurt after two of the co-ops, Yola and Coplait - speaking of French words, that would be a portmanteau. Sodiall and an investment firm sold a 51% interest in that yogurt business to licensee General Mills in 2011.
The transaction is expected to close by the end of calendar 2021.