Campbell Soup picks Plum, enters baby food category

by Keith Nunes
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CAMDEN, N.J. — The Campbell Soup Co. has entered into an agreement to acquire Plum Organics, Emeryville, Calif., a maker of foods and snacks for babies, toddlers and children, from the private equity firm Catterton Partners. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“Plum Organics’ nutritious, on-trend products are a great addition to our North American portfolio of leading brands,” said Denise Morrison, president and chief executive officer of Campbell Soup. “The acquisition will help deliver on our dual mandate to strengthen our core businesses and to expand into faster-growing categories and adjacencies. It represents another step toward our long-term goal of shifting Campbell’s center of gravity.”

The acquisition of Plum will provide a platform for Campbell to extend its simple meals, snacks and beverages products into a new category. Plum’s products have strong distribution in key customer channels, including on-line, natural and baby specialty outlets, according to Campbell Soup. With the addition of Plum Organics’ products, Campbell’s portfolio of child-focused soups, beverages and snacks will have annual sales of more than $1 billion.

Started in 2007, Plum Organics has a portfolio of 150 products. Leading products from the company include organic baby food in squeezable pouches; Super Puffs, a line of bite size puffed snacks; Plum Mighty Four, a line of snack pouches for toddlers; and Plum Kids’ Mashups, a line of squeezable fruit, vegetable and Greek yogurt products.

“Plum was founded by a group of parents on a mission to give the very best food to our little ones,” said Neil Grimmer. “To date, we’ve made a huge impact serving over 200 million organic meals and snacks. Joining the Campbell family will allow us to amplify our mission to reach even more little ones on a global scale. We look forward to building an exciting future together.”

Campbell plans to operate Plum Organics as a standalone business within its Campbell North America division. Senior members of Plum Organics’ management team, including Mr. Grimmer, will join Campbell, and continue to lead Plum Organics from Emeryville. As president of Plum, Mr. Grimmer will report to Mark Alexander, president of Campbell North America.

Campbell said it will fund the acquisition through available credit. The closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions and is expected to occur in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013.

Plum Organics has sales of $93 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2012. Campbell said the acquisition will not affect its previously-announced fiscal 2013 guidance.

Earlier this month Danone, Paris, entered into an agreement to acquire a majority stake in the Happy Family baby food brand, which is based in New York. Terms of that agreement were not disclosed, and once the transaction is complete Danone will own 90% of the company. Annual sale for Happy Family are approximately $60 million. The company offers a full line of products for babies, toddlers and children.
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