General Mills Offloads Meal Brands to Eagle Foods

Lisa Johnston
Senior Editor
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helper suddenly salad
Net sales for the Helper and Suddenly Salad businesses were around $235 million in fiscal 2021.

General Mills is selling its Helper main meals and Suddenly Salad side dishes businesses to Eagle Foods as it continues to narrow its focus in the U.S.

The deal, valued around $610 million and expected to close in the first quarter of fiscal 2023, aligns with General Mills’ Accelerate strategy that’s reshaping its portfolio and tightening investment priorities across geographies, platforms, and brands.

The deal is expected to improve General Mills North America retail segment’s growth profile, said Jon Nudi, president of the segment, as well as enable the No. 33 publicly owned consumer goods company to focus more heavily on the brands and categories with better growth and profit opportunities.

Unveiled in 2021, the Accelerate strategy focuses General Mills’ investments in eight markets and prioritizes North America, a region that represented nearly 85% of its fiscal 2021 net sales. General Mills has made a number of significant shifts as part of Accelerate, including realigning its U.S. convenience store business into its North America retail segment, as well as consolidating its Europe, Latin America, Asia. and Australia segments into one reporting unit.

It also sold off its European dough business, and, perhaps most notably, picked up the pet treats business from Tyson Foods last year in a $1.2 billion deal.

The new streamlined operating structure, which consists of four segments — North American retail, North American foodservice, international, and pet — is increasing agility and decision-making speed, according to the company.

Eagle Eye on Growth

Net sales for the Helper and Suddenly Salad businesses were around $235 million in fiscal 2021, and Bernard Kreilmann, CEO of Eagle Foods, pointed to high consumer awareness around the brands and their strong history as making them a good fit for brand building in the Eagle portfolio. The company intends to immediately expand positioning for both the Helper and Suddenly Salad brands.

For Eagle Foods, a 150-year-old manufacturer that focuses heavily on the condensed and evaporated milk category, the acquisition creates three diversified platforms — snacks, baking, and meals and sides — to drive growing center store categories for its retail partners.

Owned by private equity firm Kelso & Company, Eagle Foods products are marketed and distributed through grocery, club, and mass-merchandise stores, as well as private label and foodservice. The Cleveland-based company, which includes Magnolia, PET, Milnot, and Popcorn Indiana in its portfolio, in addition to its namesake brand, intends to further invest in its growing snacks and milk business.

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