SunOpta to sell its fiber and starch business

by Jeff Gelski
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TORONTO — SunOpta Inc. has agreed to sell its fiber and starch business to J. Rettenmaier & Sohne Group (JRS) for $37.5 million, subject to certain post-closing adjustments. The sale aligns with SunOpta’s strategy of focusing on the faster growing areas of its business that fit its vertically integrated business model, said Steve Bromley, chief executive officer of Toronto-based SunOpta, when the deal was announced Dec. 15.

“While the fiber and starch business offered limited synergies with our core business, we believe that JRS is well-positioned when it comes to fiber and customized ingredients and will be able to scale the business, which should serve the industry well and be positive for our transitioning employees,” Mr. Bromley said.

JRS, based in Rosenberg, Germany, will acquire SunOpta facilities in Louisville, Ky.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Cambridge, Minn.; Fosston, Minn.; and Galesburg, Ill.

“With this acquisition in the field of our core business we further strengthen our position in the natural fiber market by adding new products as well as a product development pipeline to our portfolio,” said Josef Otto Rettenmaier, chief executive officer of JRS. “We expect synergies and productivity gains not only in production but in most other areas.”

The fiber and starch business accounted for about 4% of SunOpta Foods’ total revenues in fiscal 2013 and the first three quarters of fiscal 2014. SunOpta will continue to operate its integrated grain and fruit-based ingredient platforms.

The sale is expected to close in the next 30 days.
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