Del Monte Fresh Produce has been named as a possible suitor to buy Del Monte Food’s canned food business.
In a July 9 Reuters report, Pinnacle Foods and Miami-based Fresh Del Monte were named as two companies interested in acquiring the canned food business of San Francisco-based Del Monte Foods. The deal could be worth $1.5 billion, according to Reuters.
If the acquisition occurs, the canned and fresh side of Del Monte brands in the U.S. would be reunited after nearly 25 years apart. In 1989, Fresh Del Monte and Del Monte Foods were created out of what had been a single company following the takeover of its corporate owner, RJR Nabisco.
In 2011, Del Monte Foods was acquired by an investor group led by funds affiliated with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P., Vestar Capital Partners and Centerview Partner. The Reuters report said the private equity holders were exploring a sale of the canned food business of Del Monte Foods with the intent of putting more focus on its pet food unit.
A spokesman for Del Monte Fresh could not be reached for comment on the report.
One food and beverage sector analyst said Fresh Del Monte’s reported interest in the canned food business seems to makes sense.
Jonathan Feeney, analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, Philadelphia, said there is a precedent for Fresh Del Monte’s interest in the canned food business. In 2004, Fresh Del Monte acquired Del Monte Foods Europe, a distributor of processed fruits and vegetables and other food products. Fresh Del Monte now holds a perpetual, royalty-free license to use the Del Monte brand for canned and prepared foods throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East and countries formerly part of the Soviet Union.
Feeney said Fresh Del Monte clearly respects the Del Monte brand name and the fact that KKR is reportedly willing to part with the Del Monte foods canned business makes Fresh Del Monte much more likely to acquire it.
“Reuniting the brands in the U.S. would make certain kinds of advertising and promotional activity that are presently not viable more viable,” he said. “You would be building the brand name both for the fresh and the packaged side at the same time,” he said.