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General Mills sells Green Giant for $765M, 'small number' of layoffs possible

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The Jolly Green Giant is leaving Minnesota after General Mills agreed to sell the iconic brand to B&G Foods Inc. for $765 million in cash.

The Golden Valley-based food producer announced in a press release Thursday it sold Green Giant and its Le Sueur canned vegetable brand to the New Jersey company, which owns Molly McButter cheese flavoring and Pirate's Booty rice-and-corn puffs.

General Mills, which employs 42,000 worldwide, had put the frozen vegetable brand up for sale in March, and said it plans to use the proceeds to pay for share buybacks and reduce its debt.

The Star Tribune notes the company owns several factories for Green Giant and also contracts with Seneca Foods for its canned vegetable products, which has four plants in Minnesota and 16 in other states.

The newspaper adds it is unclear how many Minnesota employees will be affected by the sale, but that the company is working to minimize the number who will lose their jobs, with a spokesperson saying the number is expected "to be small."

The Associated Press reports the sale is a sign of General Mills "trying to adapt to shifting U.S. tastes," moving away from packaged and frozen foods at a time when sales are declining.

The company has been changing its focus to cater to the growing demand for more organic and natural products, making its famous Cheerios cereal brand gluten-free, using 100 percent cage-free eggs as ingredients in its products, and expanding its Yoplait yogurt brand.

As part of its restructuring, the company announced up to 725 layoffs earlier this year, however the majority of those were outside of Minnesota.

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