Unilever announced Thursday that it would sell its North American pasta sauce brands, Ragu and Bertolli, to Japanese condiments company Mizkan Group for $2.15 billion.
The deal will transfer ownership of two processing plants in the U.S., one in Owensboro, Kentucky and the other in Stockton, California, to the Japanese condiments giant.
Mizkan's chairman Kazuhide Nakano called the deal "an important milestone in our global expansion strategy." The company has a growing stake in North American markets, with the acquisition of World Harbors, a U.S. brand of BBQ sauce and marinades, in 2010 and Border Foods Inc., a U.S. based processor of jalapeño peppers, in 2012.
British-Dutch conglomerate Unilever, meanwhile, has shifted its focus toward emerging markets, where it plans to ramp up sales in higher-margin personal care products.
Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America said in a statement, "This sale represents one of the final steps in reshaping our portfolio in North America to deliver sustainable growth for Unilever, and enables us to sharpen our focus within our foods business."