Unilever sells Skippy peanut butter brand for $700m

Hormel Foods has agreed to acquire the US peanut butter brand Skippy from Anglo–Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever for $700m in cash, in an attempt to capitalise on rising overseas demand for the spread.

The deal reflects the drive by the branded food specialist Hormel to expand beyond meat products, such as Spam canned meat, in emerging markets including China.

Following the announcement, shares in Minnesota-based Hormel jumped by 6 per cent in early trading yesterday in New York.

Its chief executive, Jeffrey Ettinger, said that Skippy, which has turnover of £370m, "allows us to grow our branded presence in the centre of the store with a non-meat protein product and it reinforces our brand portfolio".

Unilever decided to sell Skippy, as part of its strategy to focus higher-growth food brands, such as Hellman's mayonaisse and Knorr soup, and fast-growing personal care products, including Dove and Lux.

Kees Kruythoff, the president of Unilever's North America operations, said yesterday: "Skippy is an iconic brand with presence all around the world. As we continue to sharpen our portfolio to deliver sustainable growth for Unilever, we believe that the potential of the Skippy brand can now be more fully realised with Hormel Foods."

The transaction is expected to close shortly. Shares in Unilever rose by 0.4p to 3885p yesterday, giving it a market capitalisation of £119bn.

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