ST. LOUIS, MO. — Benson Hill has taken another step toward sharpening its focus on its Ingredients business segment, this time with the announcement it has agreed to sell the assets and equity related to its Fresh business to IMG Enterprises for $21 million.

Under terms of the two-part transaction, Groveland, Fla.-based IMG Enterprises acquired Benson Hill’s Vero Beach, Fla. facility, real estate and packhouse for $18 million in late December. The rest of Benson Hill’s Fresh business will be divested to IMG Enterprises during the second quarter of 2023 for a purchase price of $3 million pursuant to a stock purchase agreement.

Benson Hill said it plans to use proceeds from the divestiture to supplement its plans to fully fund its Ingredients business, inclusive of debt repayments, and execute its previously announced strategic initiatives.

“We’re pleased to bring this process to a successful close,” said Dean Freeman, chief financial officer of Benson Hill. “We believe there is tremendous opportunity to grow our proprietary ingredients portfolio in the food, oil and aquaculture markets. Selling the Fresh business enhances our focus and further enables disciplined capital allocation in support of our strategic growth objectives.”

Benson Hill said it will record the Fresh Segment as discontinued operations, and following the closing of the second transaction expects to record an approximate 50% non-cash write-off of the book value of the business.

With the divestiture of its Fresh business Benson Hill is now able to fully focus on its Ingredients business, which is expected to generate revenues of between $370 million to $390 million in fiscal 2022. Over the past nearly two years, Benson Hill has taken steps to strengthen its Ingredients business, beginning with the July 2021 hiring of longtime ADM executive Bruce Bennett to lead its Ingredients business segment. In January 2022, the company acquired ZFS Creston, LLC, an established food grade white flake and soy flour manufacturing operation in southwest Iowa for approximately $102 million, primarily financed through a new debt facility. The investment fulfilled a final step in Benson Hill’s ability to convert its proprietary soybeans into value-added soy protein ingredients for the underserved human and pet food categories. A month later Benson Hill launched TruVail, a line of domestically sourced non-GMO, plant-based protein ingredients sourced from its proprietary ultra-high protein soybeans.

In August 2022, Benson Hill entered a long-term strategic partnership with ADM to scale innovative soy ingredients to help meet the rapidly growing demand for plant-based proteins and serve a variety of plant-based food and beverage markets to meet savory, sweet and dairy customer needs. As part of the partnership, ADM said it will process and commercialize a portfolio of proprietary ingredients derived from Benson Hill Ultra-High Protein (UHP) soybeans through an exclusive North American licensing partnership. In addition, the companies plan to scale innovative ingredients enabled by Benson Hill genetics that feature less-processed proteins with significant water and carbon sustainability benefits.

Most recently, Benson Hill in November 2022 unveiled plans to invest $28 million to expand in Creston, Iowa. The expansion will include the addition of a 15,000-square-foot building and the purchase of equipment to create an extrusion facility to spur product innovation and increase manufacturing scale. The resulting high-protein soy ingredients will be marketed to consumer packaged goods companies.

Read more news from pet food and treat industry suppliers.