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Smucker seen considering sale for Robin Hood, other baking brands

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Reuters — J.M. Smucker is considering a sale of its baking brands, including Pillsbury and Robin Hood, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The unit could fetch as much as US$700 million (C$902.4 million), Bloomberg reported, citing one of the sources.

A final decision to pursue a sale has not been made and Smucker may keep the unit, sources told Bloomberg.

Smucker acquired the Robin Hood and Pillsbury brands as part of its deal to buy International Multifoods in 2004.

Smucker’s Canadian arm sells Robin Hood flour and baking products in the retail and grocery market, with flour milled by Ardent Mills under a co-packing agreement.

Denver-based Ardent, which has Canadian facilities at Montreal, Saskatoon, Mississauga and Brampton, Ont., also uses the Robin Hood brand under license from Smucker to sell flour in Canadian foodservice and industrial markets.

Ardent’s Canadian grain-based foodservice and industrial business had been owned by Smucker’s Canadian arm until 2006 when it sold that operation to one of Ardent’s heritage companies, Horizon Milling.

The Robin Hood brand took a hit last spring when it was caught up in a major E. coli-related product recall linked to flours and flour products made at Ardent. In Canada, 30 people were sickened in the related E. coli 0121 outbreak.

Smucker’s baking brands segment contributed to a decline in net sales in its U.S. retail consumer foods business in the third quarter, the company said in February.

Smucker said Tuesday it would abandon its plan to acquire Conagra Brands’ Wesson Oil brand after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission had moved to block the deal arguing it would likely lessen competition and violate anti-trust law.

J.M. Smucker did not respond to a request for comment outside business hours.

Reporting for Reuters by Vibhuti Sharma in Bangalore. Includes files from Network staff.

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