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Nestle to buy Ortega from Nabisco

GLENDALE, Calif., Sept. 11 -- Swiss food giant Nestle SA announced Monday it has agreed to buy the Ortega Mexican foods business from Nabisco Inc. for an undisclosed amount of cash. Nestle said it is making the deal to move into the business of selling Mexican foods in supermarkets.

It already operates a Que Bueno business selling Mexican foods to food-service customers. Ortega products include salsas, chile peppers, taco shells, taco sauces, seasonings and refried beans sold to grocery stores and food service outlets nationwide. 'The strong Ortega brand, long synonymous with high-quality, authentic Mexican food, will position us to be a leader in the high- growth Mexican food category,' said Joe Weller, Nestle USA chairman and chief executive officer. New York-based Nabisco said Ortega is an attractive business with excellent growth potential. 'However, it does not fit well with the balance of the businesses in our portfolio or with our long-term strategic objectives,' said John Greeniaus, president and chief executive officer of Nabisco. Ortega will become part of the culinary division of Nestle Food Co., one of Nestle USA's four operating companies. The division's other well- known brands include Contadina dalla Casa Buitoni tomato products, Nestle Toll House Morsels, Carnation Evaporated Milk and Libby's pumpkin and canned meats. Ortega produces salsas, jalapenos and other peppers at a plant in Oxnard, California, and the employees at that facility will continue as Nabisco employees as part of the deal. Ortega's sauces, seasonings and taco shells are produced at a factory in Stoughton, Wisconsin.

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