Terms of the deal were not disclosed. France-based Danone (OTCQX:DANOY), the world’s largest yogurt maker and also the owner of the Horizon Organic milk brand, said the sale of the beleaguered Earthbound business is part of its “portfolio management and capital allocation optimization strategy.”
Earthbound, a Certified B Corp. founded in 1984 in San Juan Bautista, Calif., is the largest U.S. producer of organic salads. The company was acquired in 2014 by The WhiteWave Foods Co. for about $608 million.
The sale of Earthbound may come as no surprise since Danone has been wrestling with the decision to divest the iconic organic produce brand, which had not produced a positive sales quarter for Danone since it was acquired in 2017.
In fact, in February 2017, prior to its sale to Danone by WhiteWave, Earthbound had posted declining sales for the second year in a row. Earthbound’s 2016 net sales came in at $543.4 million, a 4 percent drop compared to 2015’s sales of $567 million, which were down 2 percent from 2014’s sales of $575 million.
In April 2018, CFO Cabanis told analysts on a conference call that Earthbound’s days may be numbered. In June, Bloomberg reported that private equity and corporate suitors were expressing interest in Earthbound.
Danone said it will publish its first quarter sales next Wednesday.