Organic and plant-based food and drinks company SunOpta has sold its sunflower and roasted snacks division to US private investment firm Pacific Avenue Capital Partners for US$16M.

The acquisition of the division, which previously formed part of SunOpta’s Plant-Based Foods and Beverages segment, included three processing facilities, the company said on 13 October.

SunOpta said the acquired sunflower business would become Sunrich Products under Pacific Avenue’s stewardship.

Based in Crookston, Minnesota, Sunrich is a provider of farm-to-product sunflowerseeds, chickpeas and other snacks.

“We look forward to further innovating our portfolio of healthy products made from sunflower and other… crops,” Sunrich Products CEO Kent Johnson said on 18 October following the acquisition.

Following the sale, which closed on 11 October, SunOpta said its Plant-Based Foods and Beverages division would focus on a range of plant-based drinks using oat, almond, rice, soya, coconut, hemp and other bases, as well as soup, tea, nutritional drinks and liquid and powdered ingredients.

“This divestiture of a non-core business represents further progress against our strategic imperative of portfolio transformation, focusing on high-growth, high-return opportunities,” SunOpta CEO Joe Ennen said.

SunOpta manufactures natural, organic and speciality products for leading private label brands and also produces its own brands, including organic oat creamer SOWN and organic rice drink Dream.