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General Mills completes Yoplait acquisition

BY Allison Cerra

PARIS — General Mills now has a 51% stake in Yoplait S.A.S. and a 50% interest in a related entity that holds the worldwide Yoplait brands, the company announced Friday.

General Mills acquired the ownership stakes from Europe-based private equity firm PAI Partners and Sodiaal, the largest dairy cooperative in France, for about $1.2 billion. With this transaction, Yoplait will be governed by a supervisory board with representation from General Mills and Sodiaal, as the remaining ownership stakes in both entities will continue to be held by Sodiaal.

General Mills has licensed the Yoplait brand from Yoplait since 1977 and operates the Yoplait business in the United States.

“Yoplait is a fantastic global brand with tremendous potential,” General Mills chairman and CEO Ken Powell said. “General Mills and Sodiaal are well-positioned to advance and grow the Yoplait brand around the world. It is an exciting combination.”

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Marion’s Smart Delights introduces gluten-free baking mixes

BY Allison Cerra

ARLINGTON, Va. — Consumers suffering from a gluten allergy can satisfy their sweet tooth with new certified gluten-free baking mixes.

Marion’s Smart Delights has introduced gluten-free lemon bar and gluten-free cookie and muffin baking mixes. The company said that the mixes offer improved flour blends and more recipe versatility, while still touting the original nutrition benefits, such as reduced sugar, low sodium and whole grains.

"My goal is for everyone to enjoy a healthier, happier relationship with food regardless of their special dietary needs," Marion’s Smart Delights founder and president Marion Braswell said.

The new baking mixes will make their debut at the 57th Annual Summer Fancy Food Show, which is being held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on July 10 to 12.

Marion’s Smart Delights products are available in select stores and can be purchased online for suggested retail prices of $6.35 for the cookie and muffin baking mix, and $6.75 for the lemon bar mix.

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Mars Chocolate to break ground on Topeka, Kan., manufacturing facility

BY Allison Cerra

TOPEKA, Kan. — Mars Chocolate North America this week unveiled plans to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the Midwest, part of the company’s commitment to invest in U.S. manufacturing.

The facility, which will be located in Topeka, Kan., is the first site the company has built in 35 years and will help Mars Chocolate meet the growing demand for its candy products.

“We are excited to announce our plan to construct this new manufacturing site in Topeka,” Mars Chocolate VP supply Mike Wittman said. “The site will be a reflection of our commitment to manufacture our products in the markets where we sell them. Mars looks forward to becoming an important part of the Topeka community.”

Phase one of the new site is planned to be complete in 2013, Mars Chocolate said.

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