Organic and plant-based food and drinks company SunOpta has sold its ingredients business Tradin Organic for US$390M, Global AgInvesting Media reported on 26 November.

Ontario-based SunOpta’s sale of Tradin to commodities trader Amsterdam Commodities (Acomo) followed the sale of its organic soya and corn business to Pipeline Foods for US$66M two years previously.

The sale of the ingredients unit, which had posted sales of US$488M for the 12 months to 26 September, would allow the company to focus on its plant-based food and drinks business, Global AgInvesting Media said.

SunOpta said the move would also reduce its exposure to the volatility of commodity trading while strengthening long-term margins and growth rates.

“This transaction further solidifies SunOpta’s future direction as a high-growth, plant-based company,” said SunOpta CEO Joe Ennen.

“Furthermore, this transaction de-levers and strengthens SunOpta’s balance sheet, enabling the acceleration of near-term expansion plans in our fast-growing plant-based food and beverage segment.”

As part of the deal, Ennen said the company had signed an agreement with Acomo to continue supplying the organic ingredients it sourced.

“The long-term supply agreement negotiated as part of this transaction provides SunOpta with the benefit of a continued strategic relationship with a leading global ingredient player in Acomo,” he added.

The agreement also involved the sale of SunOpta’s processing facilities in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Silistra, Bulgaria, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Yirgalem, Ethiopia, with all facilities and employees transferring to Acomo.

“With the exciting acquisition of Tradin, Acomo will realise a highly complementary acquisition, creating a leading global player across organic and conventional unlisted commodities,” said Acomo Group managing director Allard Goldschmeding.

“The company is a leading partner for the organic food industry, benefitting from the rapidly growing global consumer demand for sustainable and healthy foods.”

Moving forward under Acomo, Tradin’s plans included the expansion of its cocoa capabilities and developing processing facilities for plant-based ingredients of meat replacements.

One of its goals was to dedicate more resources to West Africa and East Africa.

While SunOpta had not disclosed details of its plant-based business expansion, Ennen said plans included both high-return capital investment projects and synergistic acquisitions.

New directions could take the company outside the US market and into new categories such as plant-based dairy products, Ennen told Food Navigator USA.

SunOpta is currently a provider of soya, oat and hemp ingredients for the production of plant-based dairy alternatives. It also supplies plant-based powders sourced for their fibre and protein content for the production of beverages, snacks and baked goods.

Tradin Organic works with small-scale organic farmers worldwide.