CAMDEN, N.J. — Campbell Soup Co. is expanding its presence in the growing packaged fresh food category with the acquisition of Garden Fresh Gourmet for $231 million. Generating $100 million in net sales last year, Garden Fresh Gourmet manufactures the leading branded refrigerated salsa in the United States as well as hummus, dips and tortilla chips.
The business will become part of the Campbell Fresh division, formerly called Packaged Fresh, which also includes Bolthouse Farms juices, carrots salad dressings and children’s snacks; the recently launched 1915 brand of cold-pressed organic juices; and Campbell’s retail refrigerated soups. Under the new enterprise structure, the division will focus on building Campbell’s scale and accelerating growth in the $19 billion packaged fresh foods category.
|Denise Morrison, president and c.e.o. of Campbell.
“The acquisition of Garden Fresh Gourmet is another milestone in reshaping our portfolio toward faster-growing categories, including packaged fresh and organic foods,” said Denise Morrison, president and chief executive officer of Campbell. “Garden Fresh Gourmet’s on-trend products will provide Campbell with another growth engine to help us continue to shift our center of gravity.”
With headquarters in Ferndale, Mich., Garden Fresh Gourmet was founded in 1998 by Jack and Annette Aronson, who began packaging salsa made in-house at their restaurant at the request of a local upscale grocery chain. Mr. Aronson will stay on as an adviser to the business. The company has approximately 500 employees with operations in Grand Rapids Mich.; Inkster, Mich.; and Detroit. Garden Fresh Gourmet will continue to operate out of Ferndale and will be led by Todd Putman, general manager of Garden Fresh, within the Campbell Fresh Division.
“Garden Fresh Gourmet will allow the Campbell Fresh division to expand in the deli section of the grocery store perimeter and will complement our strong presence in the produce section,” said Jeff Dunn, president of Campbell Fresh. “It is a logical extension of our fresh food and beverage platform that resonates with today’s consumers. This is a critical next step in our journey to becoming the leader in the fast-growing packaged fresh category.”
Campbell has been building its footprint in the fresh foods category since 2012, when the company acquired Bolthouse Farms for $1.55 billion. The company followed that transaction with the acquisition of Plum Organics, a maker of foods and snacks for babies, toddlers and children, for an undisclosed amount in 2013.
“Garden Fresh Gourmet is an American success story, whose leadership has built a vibrant brand with a loyal following in faster-growing categories like refrigerated salsas and hummus,” Mr. Dunn said. “We will leverage our packaged fresh production and distribution, sales and brand-building capabilities to help Garden Fresh Gourmet become a national brand.”Campbell expects to complete the transaction in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015. The company said the transaction will not affect its previously announced fiscal 2015 guidance and will slightly accretive beginning in fiscal 2016.