NEW YORK — Swiss food and drink giant Nestle is selling its U.S. candy business to Italy’s Ferrero for about $2.8 billion in cash. Ferrero will take over iconic chocolate brands Butterfinger and Crunch bars, as well as the sugary Nerds, SweeTarts and FunDip.
After a review of its portfolio last summer, Nestle hinted that it might sell its U.S. business, with its eye on higher-growth areas like pet care, coffee and infant nutrition.
In September, Nestle announced that it bought a majority stake in Blue Bottle Coffee, a high-end coffee company. Other Nestle brands include Purina, Gerber and Stouffer’s.
Ferrero is best known in the United States for Tic Tac mints, Nutella spreads, Ferrero Rocher pralines and Fannie May chocolates.
In October, Ferrero bought the maker of Brach’s and Lemonhead candies. Ferrara Candy will remain headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace and continue to operate its production and distribution centers. Ferrara is the third-largest, non-chocolate candy company in the United States, created by the merger of Ferrara Pan Candy Co. and Farley’s & Sathers Candy Co. in 2012.
Nestle, based in Switzerland, says its U.S. candy business accounts for about 3 percent of its U.S. division’s sales.
The deal is expected to close at the end of the first quarter.