B&G Foods ‘actively seeking’ to sell Back to Nature brand

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Dive Brief:

  • B&G Foods is “actively seeking” to sell its Back to Nature brand and has initiated a strategic review to identify other potential divestitures, CEO Casey Keller told analysts during the company’s third-quarter earnings call.
  • Keller said the sale of what he called non-core businesses would generate cash to pay down debt and reduce leverage, while shaping the company’s portfolio “for future focus and strength.”
  • A sale of Back to Nature or other brands in B&G’s sweeping portfolio would mark a significant shift for the New Jersey-based company that has been built up through acquisitions. 

Dive Insight:

B&G Foods traces its roots to the Bloch and Guggenheimer families, which started selling pickles in Manhattan in 1889. More than a century later, New York investors formed B&G Foods to acquire Bloch & Guggenheimer, and the strategy to grow by purchasing other brands began.

During just the last few years, B&G has purchased household staples like Green Giant and Crisco to complement existing brands such as Cream of Wheat and Ortega. The acquisition strategy built a large portfolio that is mostly food, but includes some outliers, such as fabric spray Static Guard. 

B&G has shown signs recently of looking to change course by focusing its portfolio and paying down debt. Using money from divestitures, B&G would likely be able to improve its bottom line by lowering interest payments. 

CFO Bruce Wacha told analysts B&G is in the process of reviewing its portfolio to ensure the brands fit with the strategy it has for each of its four business divisions. In June, B&G created these units — specialty; frozen and vegetables; meals; and spices and seasonings — to improve focus and drive growth. 

The ongoing review, Wacha said, will both influence the brands it wants to divest and determine those the company wants to buy going forward. 

B&G purchased Back To Nature and SnackWell’s snacks for $162.5 million from Mondelēz and Brynwood Partners five years ago. Wacha said the purchase of Back to Nature made sense at the time, when B&G was building its snack portfolio. It may not make sense to own it anymore, “given our current focus,” he said. Snacking, he said, is a small business for B&G, in which it hasn’t built meaningful capacity. 

“We now believe that there are better owners for Back to Nature than B&G Foods,” he said. 

The company’s snacking ambitions were likely altered when it sold Pirate Brands, the maker of better-for-you snacks — including Pirate’s Booty, Smart Puffs and Original Tings — to Hershey for $420 million in 2018. At the time, the brand was one of B&G’s seven largest and a major part of its snacking segment. For now, many of its brands fall into categories more conducive to the home such as baking, condiments and dressings, sauces and soups. 

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About the Author

Jervie David Montejar
A food lover who wants to try every delicious dishes around him and spread the news to everyone to try it as well. Finding the latest trends about food and restaurants around Cebu and the rest of the world :) "Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." -Ernestine Ulmer
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