Earthbound Farm, the largest organic salads business in the U.S., has officially changed hands – the transaction for its sale from the French multinational food and beverage giant Danone S.A. to family-owned Taylor Farms, based in California, was closed on April 11.
Danone says selling the brand, which brought in about US$400 million in 2018, was part of its portfolio management and capital allocation optimization strategy.
Formerly, Earthbound Farm had been owned by WhiteWave Foods, which bought the business for US$600 million in 2013. Just a few years later, however, Earthbound Farm switched management again when Danone acquired WhiteWave in 2017.
Danone says it made this purchase as part of a strategy to expand its global presence in the plant-based and organic food market, and establish itself as one of the industry’s international leaders.
Our goal is to position ourselves so that we can best to capitalize on consumer trends towards healthier and more sustainable eating and drinking choices, says the company.
Last year, Danone revealed plans to “triple the size of its plant-based business by 2025”, by supplementing its dairy industry sales with the “high plant-based growth potential”. Specifically, it is looking to increase its plant-based sales from US$1.9 billion to around US$5.6 billion.
The company recorded an almost 3% increase in sales in 2018, benefiting from the strong performance of its specialized nutrition unit as well as its water brands.
Yet, according to Danone chief executive Emmanuel Faber, Earthbound Farm was not performing as strongly as hoped. In February, he said the “loss-making” Earthbound Farm was under “intense strategic scrutiny”.
Now that the brand has been sold, Taylor Farms has already announced its own plans for the business.
In a statement, the company said: “We will build on Earthbound Farm’s tradition of organic authenticity, new variety development and quality focus with expanded regional organic growing and processing capability to better serve Earthbound Farm’s customers and consumers across North America.”
Taylor Farms, which is also based in California, said Earthbound Farm will join its Taylor Farms Retail Group and help lead growth in the organic fresh produce category.