Although Skippy is "a good fit" with its other packaged foods, Ettinger said Hormel still needs to figure out how to handle its merchandising of Skippy in stores, such as whether to display it next to other items.
Swings in peanut butter prices have made growth volatile in recent years, but Skippy sales on average have increased about 4 percent annually on a normalized basis, according to a spokesman for Unilever. The American Peanut Council estimates that Americans eat an average of nearly 4 pounds of peanut butter a year.
Hormel expects annual Skippy sales of about $370 million, with almost $100 million of that from outside the U.S. Ettinger expects Skippy sales to grow in the low single digits domestically and in the high single digits overseas.
The deal includes Skippy manufacturing plants in Little Rock, Ark., and Weifang, China. Hormel Foods Corp. said it expects the deal to modestly add to its fiscal 2013 results and add 13 cents to 17 cents per share to fiscal 2014 earnings.
The transaction, which still needs regulatory approval, is expected to close in two parts. The domestic closing is expected by the second quarter and the China business is expected to close by the end of the year.
As Hormel continues to grow, Ettinger said future acquisitions could be larger than they have been in recent years. "It's an $8 billion company now. You have to move the needle," he said.
Unilever, based in the Netherlands and the U.K., is one of the largest consumer products companies in the world. It makes Vaseline, Dove soaps and Lipton tea. The company had indicated last year it was considering selling Skippy as part of a strategic review.Hormel shares were up 4 percent at $33.28.