By Laura Lorenzetti
May 22, 2014

FORTUNE — Unilever agreed to sell its Ragu and Bertolli brands for about $2.15 billion to Japan-based Mizkan Group, the company announced Thursday.

Unilever, the maker of beauty brands such as Dove and Vaseline, has been looking to sell its North American pasta sauce business since at least April when the company conducted a strategic review that re-focused its food assets.

“This sale represents one of the final steps in reshaping our portfolio in North America to deliver sustainable growth,” Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America, said in a statement. “And [the sale] enables us to sharpen our focus within our foods business.”

The British-Dutch consumer products company sold its Wish-Bone salad dressing and Skippy peanut butter brands last year and has reportedly been looking to divest its Slim Fast business, as well. It has held onto some of its other food businesses, including Lipton and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Unilever will maintain the sales rights to Ragu and Bertolli in Europe.

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Ragu and Bertolli lead the pasta sauce category in the U.S., and the two brands have annual sales of more than $600 million. The sale also includes a sauce processing and packaging facility in Owensboro, Ky., and a tomato processing facility in Stockton, Calif.

The purchase will help Mizkan, the 210-year-old maker of condiments and seasonings, continue its expansion beyond the Japanese market. Mizkan bought British food brands Sarson’s, Haywards and Dufrais last year and U.S.-based Border Foods, a processor of jalapeños, in 2011.


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