UPDATE 1-SunOpta to buy private frozen fruit supplier for about $450 mln

Fri Jul 31, 2015 12:44pm EDT
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By Anet Josline Pinto

July 31 (Reuters) - Canadian organic foods supplier SunOpta Inc said it would buy organic frozen fruit supplier Sunrise Holdings Delaware Inc for about $450 million in a move to strengthen its packaged products business.

SunOpta, which also sells agricultural produce and food ingredients, said it was buying Sunrise from a group of investors led by private equity firm Paine & Partners LLC.

Demand for organic food, from fruits to meat, has risen steadily in the last decade as consumers become more concerned about genetically modified crops and chemicals used in the food chain.

"From a strategy perspective, I think (the deal) is a solid move," said D A Davidson & Co analyst Eric Gottlieb.

The deal will help SunOpta become the U.S. leader in the "individually quick-frozen organic food" business, Gottlieb told Reuters.

Individually quick-frozen foods do not stick together as a block, making foods such as strawberries and blueberries easier to use.

"It is a niche area that is growing at a very high rate," Gottlieb said.   Continued...