Danone Considers Selling Organic Produce Company

(Bloomberg) -- Danone is exploring a sale of California organic produce distributor Earthbound Farm LLC amid interest from potential private equity and corporate buyers, people familiar with the matter said.

Danone is working with financial advisers on the possible disposal, which could fetch about $500 million, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public. No decision has been made and Danone could opt to keep Earthbound Farm, they said.

A representative for Danone declined to comment.

Danone, based in Paris, is bringing Earthbound Farm to market as it seeks to revamp its fresh foods business in North America, which has been a drag on earnings. While Danone’s first priority is turning the unit around, it would also "decide on any strategic options" for the business, Chief Financial Officer Cecile Cabanis said in a conference call discussing earnings in April.

Danone acquired Earthbound Farm as part of its $12.5 billion takeover of WhiteWave Foods Co. in 2017. WhiteWave bought Earthbound Farm in 2014 for $600 million.

Based in San Juan Bautista, Earthbound Farm’s products include fresh, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables, according to its website.

It was founded in 1984 by Drew and Myra Goodman, who started selling organic raspberries from their backyard garden at a roadside farm stand that the company still runs.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.