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Land O'Lakes looks to be rid o' egg business

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Land O'Lakes is looking to extract itself from the egg business.

The Star Tribune reports that the the Minnesota-based farmers’ cooperative disclosed in its annual report that it is exploring “options to divest of this business.” The company declined to make a company spokesperson available to the newspaper to provide comment for the story. But in an e-mail exchange about what prompted the decision, Land O’Lakes replied that it “constantly evaluates all segments of its business as part of our strategic plan. We are focused on smart, strategic growth and aligning our businesses to optimize our growth strategy.”

Although eggs represent a single-digit percentage of the co-op's $14.2 billion sales, Land O'Lakes is the third-largest egg producer through its egg subsidiary Moark. Moark, which has operations in California, Missouri and Maine entered into a joint venture with Land O’Lakes in 2000 and later became a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O’Lakes.

Earlier this month as Easter approached, the Springfield, Missouri News-Leader published the story of Moark's donation of 12,600 dozen with 151,200 eggs to a regional food bank, the Ozarks Food Harvest. Moark also donated 23,334 dozen eggs with 280,000 eggs to a Maine food bank, according to WLBZ in Bangor.

The news comes following a shakeup at another Minnesota company that is in the egg business. Earlier this month, TwinCitiesBusiness magazine reported that Post Holdings plans to acquire Minnetonka-based Michael Foods for $2.45 billion. The private Michael Foods produces and distributes a number of egg products and its website says it is he world’s largest egg processing company. The Post deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014. A company spokeswoman said the deal would not result in job loss or relocation of the company's 3,500 employees.

Land O’Lakes would continue to have a presence in eggs through a two-year marketing joint venture with Eggland’s Best. Minnesota is the nation's eighth largest egg producer.

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