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ConAgra to Buy Bertolli, P.F. Chang’s Frozen Meals Businesses from Unilever

Dutch food group says the sale is ‘in line with the company's global strategy to exit the frozen foods business.’

Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever Group (IW 1000/57) said Monday that it was selling its North American frozen meals business to Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra (IW 500/93) as part of a plan to exit the global frozen-foods industry.

Unilever "has signed a definitive agreement for the sale of its North American frozen meals business to ConAgra for a total cash consideration of $265 million," Unilever said in a statement.

ConAgra said it is acquiring the Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s Home Menu frozen meals businesses, whose annual sales approach $300 million. 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 the P.F. Chang’s Home Menu brand name, according to ConAgra.

The deal does not include Unilever's facility in Owensboro, Ky., at which the Bertolli and P.F. Chang's frozen meals are currently produced. Unilever said it will retain the Bertolli trademark and continue its existing pasta sauce business, with manufacturing operations remaining at its Kentucky facility. 

The sale, which is subject to regulatory approval, was "in line with the company's global strategy to exit the frozen foods business," Unilever added.

One of the world's leading suppliers of consumer goods, Unilever owns a wide variety of brands including Knorr, Lipton, Dove and Vaseline. It employs 167,000 workers in 100 countries.

ConAgra is one of the largest U.S.-based food companies, with brands that include Hunts, Wesson, Swiss Miss and Hebrew National. It employs more than 26,000 people.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012, IndustryWeek contributed to this report.

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