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Distributor United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Canadian food distribution assets of the SunOpta Distribution Group business (SDG) of SunOpta Inc. for about CDN $68 million in cash. The deal is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close by early next month. Upon closing, the SDG business will be operated through a wholly owned subsidiary of UNFI under the name UNFI Canada, Inc.
Purchasing Canada’s largest distributor of organic, natural, kosher and specialty foods will provide Providence, R.I.-based UNFI with an immediate springboard for growth in the Canadian market. Founded in 2002, Toronto-based SDG has about 6,000 customer locations, 15,000 SKUs and five distribution centers.
“This acquisition is the latest step in our strategy to grow our specialty foods and organic business,” said UNFI president and CEO Steve Spinner. “Both companies have a rich history of commitment to sustainability, integrity and philanthropy.”
“This transaction offers us additional resources to expand our product offerings and serve more customers with greater efficiencies, utilizing items such as UNFI’s substantial purchasing power and sophisticated inter-regional logistics system,” added SDG president Roger Eacock.
According to Steve Bromley, president and CEO of SunOpta: “Divesting the food distribution assets is an important milestone in our strategy to focus on our core food manufacturing platform, strengthening our balance sheet and positioning SunOpta for the future. We have long admired UNFI’s strong values and commitment to the natural, organic and specialty foods industry, and believe they will bring great value to the Canadian marketplace.”
Brampton, Ontario-based SunOpta currently consists of three business segments: SunOpta Foods, which specializes in sourcing, processing and distribution of natural and organic food products integrated from seed through packaged products; Opta Minerals Inc.(66.4 percent owned by company), a producer, distributor, and recycler of environmentally friendly industrial minerals; and SunOpta BioProcess Inc., which engineers and markets proprietary steam explosion technology systems for the biofuel, pulp and food processing industries.
UNFI carries and distributes more than 60,000 products to over 17,000 customer locations nationwide. The company serves a wide variety of retail formats, among them conventional supermarket chains, natural product superstores, independent retail operators and the foodservice channel.