• Sweet deal for Lindt & Sprüngli
Swiss chocolate manufacturer Lindt & Sprüngli agreed to acquire Russell Stover Candies. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the deal makes Lindt & Sprüngli the third largest chocolate manufacturer in North America and gives the company an established presence in the United States through its Lindt, Ghiradelli, Russell Stover and Whitman’s brands.
“This is the biggest and most important strategic acquisition to date in Lindt & Sprüngli’s history. It’s a unique opportunity for us to expand our North American chocolate business and will greatly enhance the group’s status in the world’s biggest overall chocolate marketplace,” said Ernst Tanner, chairman of the Lindt & Sprüngli.
Based in Kansas City, Russell Stover Candies has annual sales of approximately $500 million. The company operates four manufacturing plants in the United States and is best known as a manufacturer of pralines and seasonal candies in North America.
Lindt and Russell Stover are each suppliers to Wal-Mart Stores with local sales offices in Northwest Arkansas.
• ConAgra Foods buys Chinese potato business
ConAgra Foods acquired TaiMei Potato Industry Ltd., based in Shandu, Inner Mongolia. The $93 million acquisition will expand ConAgra’s Lamb Weston operations in a market that is experiencing growing demand for frozen potato products, according to the company release.
“We’ve been doing business in China and throughout Asia for more than 25 years, leading the way in market development and expansion,” said Greg Schlafer, president of Lamb Weston. “TaiMei is ConAgra Foods’ first potato processing facility in China, and we are confident they’ll help to accelerate our strong growth in Asia.”
Established in 2010, TaiMei is located in one of the largest potato growing regions in China. The plant provides Lamb Weston the ability to make frozen potato products closer to its expanding customer base and meet the growing demand for frozen potato products in Asia.
“Our focused expansion in China is truly customer-centric,” said Gary Rodkin, chief executive officer of ConAgra Foods. “We’re leveraging our deep industry experience to develop in-country supply capabilities for our major quick-service restaurant chains and other strategic customers. Our customers have aggressive growth plans in China, and by adding ConAgra Foods’ operations in China, we will be better able to support their plans.”
ConAgra is a global Wal-Mart supplier with local sales offices in Bentonville.
• Unilever sells Slim Fast business
Kainos Capital, a firm specializing in acquiring and managing food and consumer brands, has acquired the Slim-Fast brand from Unilever for an undisclosed amount. Unilever will retain a minority stake in the business, according to the release.
Slim-Fast is a branded weight loss and meal replacement business that markets ready-to-drink shakes, powders, bars and snacks to retail customers throughout North America and in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The transaction includes the Slim-Fast trademark and the global Slim-Fast business portfolio.
Slim-Fast will be part of the Kainos Capital portfolio of health and wellness companies, which includes Milk Specialties Global, InterHealth Nutraceuticals and Healthy Delights.
"We are tremendously excited to acquire the Slim-Fast business in partnership with Unilever. Slim-Fast is the most recognizable brand name in weight management and over the last twenty years has helped millions of people lead healthier lives. Chris Tisi and his team have decades of experience in the diet and weight management category and are ready to give Slim-Fast the resources and entrepreneurial focus that will drive the brand to new heights,” said Andrew Rosen, managing partner of Kainos Capital.