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April 16, 2021updated 11 May 2021 6:52pm

SunOpta buys plant-based brands from Hain Celestial

By Dean Best

Canada’s SunOpta has continued its investment in plant-based dairy alternatives with a move to buy the Dream and WestSoy brands from US-based manufacturer Hain Celestial.

SunOpta is paying US$33m for the two brands the company has been making for Hain Celestial under co-manufacturing contracts.

CEO Joe Ennen said the deal was “very consistent with our previously-stated objective of pursuing strong organic and inorganic growth in our plant-based business”.

Earlier this year, SunOpta announced plans to expand a factory in the US dedicated to the category.

Ennen added: "Our interest in brands is to allow the acceleration of innovation by giving us platforms to pursue emerging or niche opportunities. These two brands are perfect examples of niche brands that complement, but do not directly compete with, our vitally important co-manufactured partners.

"Since SunOpta has been manufacturing these brands for years, when this opportunity presented itself it was an obvious fit for us to own these brands. These leading brands will receive the appropriate attention within SunOpta, along with an objective of developing growth opportunities for each of the Dream and WestSoy branded products."

Hain Celestial, meanwhile, has been steadily offloading assets in recent years as part of a strategy to focus on what president and CEO Mark Schiller calls the company's "get-bigger brands".

Schiller said: "We considered this business to be non-core within our North American business. Additionally, this transaction improves our growth profile without impacting the profit margin for the remaining Hain Celestial business, providing us with increased confidence in our ability to continue to enhance shareholder returns over the long-term."

In January, Hain Celestial sold UK fruit business Orchard House and associated brands to local private-equity firm Elaghmore in January.

Over the last two years, Hain Celestial has offloaded assets including US brand Better Bean, French organic products business Danival and Tilda rice in an attempt to improve its margins and cash flow and fuel growth.

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