General Mills is selling the Helper and Suddenly Salad brands for $610 million as the food giant lessens its position in the boxed-meal category it helped create.
The sale to Eagle Family Foods Group is expected to close later this year.
Sales for Suddenly Salad and Helper — which include Chicken Helper, Tuna Helper and Hamburger Helper — totaled $235 million in the last fiscal year. General Mills anticipates taking a roughly $60 million hit to its bottom line over the next year "before factoring in any potential benefit from the use of proceeds from the sale," the company said in a news release.
The divestiture is part of the Golden Valley company's "accelerate" strategy that's selling off products sold in certain regions to free up resources for its highest growth areas.
"This transaction improves our North America Retail segment's growth profile and allows us to increase our focus on brands and categories where we have the best opportunities to drive profitable growth," Jon Nudi, General Mills president of North America retail, said in a news release.
Hamburger Helper launched in 1971 as part of the Betty Crocker brand and was an immediate hit. The brand became a household name, spawning a number of dry dinner mix competitors.
But its popularity waned in the last few decades as consumers turn away from processed foods found in the center aisles of grocery stores. In 2013, General Mills relaunched the brand as Helper and invested in new marketing, with help from the iconic glove mascot, "Lefty."
The company said in 2017 that every weeknight about 1 million households eat Helper.
Cleveland-based Eagle Foods is a leading producer of sweetened condensed milk. It is credited with turning around the struggling Cretors popcorn brand after acquiring it in 2016.
"The Helper and Suddenly Salad brands, with strong heritage and high consumer awareness, are a perfect fit for what Eagle does best — investing in, innovating and revitalizing brands to drive growth and nurture them to reach their full potential," chief executive Bernard Kreilmann said in a statement. "We will immediately start expanding the positioning of these two iconic brands."
A Bloomberg report last fall said General Mills was also considering selling its Progresso soup business.