United Natural Foods buys SunOpta unit

by Eric Schroeder
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — United Natural Foods, Inc., Canada’s largest distributor of organic, natural, kosher and specialty foods, completed its acquisition of the Canadian food distribution assets of the SunOpta Distribution Group (S.D.G.) for approximately C$68 million ($66.5 million) in cash. The business will be operated through a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Natural Foods and will operate in Canada as UNFI Canada, Inc.

SunOpta has retained the natural health products distribution and manufacturing assets, which represent the balance of the assets in S.D.G.

The Canadian food distribution assets generated $169.6 million of the $237.3 million in total sales for S.D.G. during fiscal 2009, while the natural health products distribution and manufacturing assets generated $67.7 million.

SunOpta said it expects to realize a net gain on the sale of the Canadian food distribution assets with the amount being dependent on finalization of the closing balance sheet and related closing costs.

“We are very happy to have closed this acquisition as it represents the latest step in our strategy to grow our business in the Canadian market and we look forward to working closely with our new UNFI. Canada associates,” said Steve Spinner, president and chief executive officer of UNFI.

Steve Bromley, president and c.e.o. of SunOpta, said the sale is an important step in SunOpta’s strategy to focus on its core food manufacturing platform, strengthening its balance sheet and positioning the company for the future.

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