French dairy cooperative Sodiaal has agreed to a deal that will give General Mills full ownership of the Yoplait business in Canada

General Mills has entered into a memorandum of understanding to sell its 51% controlling interest in Yoplait to French dairy cooperative Sodiaal in exchange for full ownership of the Canadian Yoplait business and a reduced royalty rate for use of the Yoplait and Liberté brands in the US and Canada.

Yoplait is the world’s largest franchise brand of yoghurt. It has been jointly owned by US-based food giant General Mills and Sodiaal since 2011.

Under the terms of the transaction, General Mills would acquire Sodiaal’s 49% ownership interest in Yoplait Canada Holding Co., making the Yoplait Canada business a wholly owned subsidiary of General Mills. Yoplait Canada generated $290 million in net sales in fiscal 2020.

Upon completion of the deal, Yoplait would operate Yoplait’s yoghurt businesses in France, the UK and certain other markets, and manage a network of 28 franchisees manufacturing and distributing Yoplait branded products in more than 40 countries around the world.

The company reported that net sales for the Yoplait business that would be wholly owned by Sodiaal totalled $740 million in fiscal 2020.

“We’re taking another step toward advancing our ‘accelerate’ strategy and further reshaping our portfolio to drive profitable growth for the long term,” said General Mills chairman and chief executive officer Jeff Harmening. “This transaction improves our growth profile, enhances our margins, and creates value for our shareholders. Additionally, it increases our focus on the brand platforms that have the greatest growth potential.”

Following completion of the transaction, General Mills would wholly own yoghurt operations in the US and Canada that generated a combined $1.4 billion in net sales in fiscal 2020 and would distribute Yoplait and Liberté branded products in these countries on a royalty-free basis.

Dana McNabb, group president of General Mills’ Europe and Australia segment, said the transaction allows the company to increase the focus on advantaged global platforms, including Mexican food, super-premium ice cream, and snack bars.

“We are pleased to be returning the European Yoplait business to the brand’s original creator and our trusted partner, Sodiaal,” said McNabb. “The General Mills team will work diligently alongside Sodiaal to ensure a smooth transition as this business enters its next chapter.”

The proposed transaction is expected to close by the end of calendar 2021.

Date published: 23 March 2021

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