Today, Nestlé announced it has sold its United States-based ice cream business—which includes brands such as Häagen-Dazs, Dreyer’s, Edy’s, Skinny Cow, and Drumstick—for $4 billion to Froneri, a joint venture it created with European private equity firm PAI Partners. The sale will consolidate Nestlé’s US ice cream holdings with Froneri’s existing portfolio to create a larger ice cream company to compete with Unilever during a time when Americans continue to consume fewer dairy products. While Nestlé is still in the dairy ice cream business in Canada, Latin America, and Asia, some analysts believe the company will exit dairy altogether. “Mark Schneider, Nestlé chief executive, has been restructuring the group’s portfolio as consumer tastes shift toward healthy and convenient products and the growth of some of its more traditional lines slows,” financial media outlet Barron’s says. Over the years, Nestlé has been the subject of many undercover investigations. Earlier this year, animal-rights group Compassion Over Killing exposed rampant abuse at Martin Farms, a dairy supplier for Nestlé’s Dreyer’s ice cream brand. Nestlé’s exit from the US dairy ice cream business comes shortly after Dean Foods—the largest milk producer in the country—filed for bankruptcy protection.
Since Nestlé acquired vegetarian brand Sweet Earth in 2017, its focus has been shifting toward developing products for the modern consumer. This fall, it debuted vegan Awesome Burger and Awesome Grounds at retailers nationwide. In October, Nestlé unveiled its newest vegan innovation: the “PB Triple Play”—a packaged deal that includes vegan bacon, dairy-free cheese, and the Awesome Burger patty which allows foodservice providers to craft the ultimate vegan bacon cheeseburger. In the spring of 2020, the company will debut meatless versions of two of its iconic frozen food items: DiGiorno Meatless Supreme and Stouffer’s Meatless Lasagne, both made with its vegan Awesome Grounds.