New York • Campbell Soup Co. is hoping carrots, high-end juices and refrigerated salad dressings can freshen up its business.
The Camden, N.J.-based company, which is best known for canned soups, said Monday that it will buy natural foods maker Bolthouse Farms for $1.55 billion in a cash deal. Campbell says Bolthouse's juice line will complement its "V8" beverage unit. And the carrots business lets Campbell expand its healthy snacking category.
Campbell also owns Pepperidge Farm cookies and Prego spaghettis sauces.
After years of declining soup sales, Campbell is trying to revive its primary business amid growing competition and evolving consumer tastes. This fall, the company plans to roll out a slew of new products such as soup pouches in flavors like Moroccan chicken in hopes of appealing to younger consumers.
Campbell said that it will operate the Bakersfield, Calif.-based Bolthouse as a separate business unit. It expects the deal will boost adjusted 2013 earnings by 5 cents to 7 cents per share. The acquisition from Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, a private equity firm, is expected to close late this summer.
Even as its U.S. soup sales fell in the third quarter, Campbell in May said that sales in its beverage unit rose 5 percent, driven by gains in its V8 Splash and V-Fusion drinks.
Bolthouse Farms sells drinks and salad dressings under its corporate name. Its carrots are also sold under the "Earthbound Farms" and "Green Giant" brands. The company had sales of $689 million for the fiscal year ended March 31.
Campbell shares slipped 3 cents to $32.96 in morning trading Monday. They are trading near the upper end of their 52-week range of $29.69 to $35.02.