General Mills acquired Brazilian yogurt maker Carolina Administracao e Participacoes Societarias Ltda., (Carolina), a privately held dairy products company headquartered in Ribeirao Claro, Parana, Brazil. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. General Mills made the announcement on Dec. 23.

Carolina is a family-owned Brazilian company established in 1969. A leading regional dairy products producer, Carolina is especially known for its strong regional yogurt brands, Carolina, VeryGurt and Gluck.

Operating primarily in southern and southeastern Brazil, Carolina sources high-quality milk from farmers in the dairy-rich region of Parana, and markets more than 20 different dairy product lines. Employing more than 390 people in Ribeirao Claro and across the region, Carolina has significant regional operating, sales and distribution infrastructure.

General Mills executive calls Carolina ‘a perfect fit’

"We are delighted to add Carolina's strong brands and talented team to General Mills' growing international business," said Chris O'Leary, General Mills' Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer—International. "Carolina's strong capabilities in yogurt and dairy will accelerate General Mills' growth in Brazil. We plan to invest and build on the strong Carolina product portfolio, leveraging our own expertise and the Carolina team to grow and expand in Brazil – a very important market for General Mills International."

Carolina founder Maurício Araújo said, "We are pleased to see our Carolina brands and businesses joining General Mills. As a family-owned company, it was important to us to join a company that shared Carolina's values of 'doing the right thing' as we continue to grow our business. The global capabilities of General Mills will help our talented and committed Carolina employee team continue to grow our brands and businesses. We look forward to accelerating the growth of Carolina for years to come."

"Brazil is a strategic market for General Mills, and yogurt is a growing category," added Olivier Faujour, President, Global Yogurt and Ice Cream for General Mills. "Carolina's quality brands and products match perfectly with General Mills' company mission, which is to serve the world by making food people love. General Mills' global dairy capabilities will complement and build upon Carolina's already strong reputation for quality products and dairy 'know-how.' It should be a perfect fit that will allow us to bring even more delight to Brazilian consumers with superior quality yogurt and dairy products."

General Mills continues to invest in Brazil, an important market for General Mills International. The addition of Yoki Alimentos in 2012 more than doubled General Mills' annual sales in Latin America. Its 2011 acquisition of Yoplait International also greatly expanded General Mills' yogurt portfolio, a business it has continued to expand with the recent entry of Yoplait into China.

Yoplait Greek yogurt sales were strong in first half

Earlier in December, General Mills reported that through the first six months, net sales declined 4% to $8.63 billion, but on a constant-currency basis, net sales increased 1%. The company stated that products in its U.S. Retail segment making “particularly strong contributions to first-half net sales results” were Yoplait Greek yogurt, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms cereals, Nature Valley grain snacks, Annie's soup and other natural and organic products, Totino's hot snacks, and Progresso soup.

In the Convenience Stores and Foodservice segment, Yoplait Greek and Parfait Pro yogurt varieties were strong net sales contributors, along with Pillsbury frozen mini-bagels, Bugles and Chex Mix salty snacks. International products posting strong first-half net sales contributions included Häagen-Dazs ice cream and Old El Paso Mexican products in Europe, Nature Valley snacks in Canada, and Betty Crocker sweet snacks in the Asia-Pacific region.

General Mills is hitting its targets to reduce sodium

In a separate statement, General Mills said it is meeting its commitments to reduce sodium by 20% across 10 key U.S. retail product categories by the end of 2015. The company said it has met or exceeded its stated goal in seven of ten categories, with reductions across the 10 categories ranging from 18% to 35%. The categories include cereals, dry dinners, frozen pizza, Mexican dinners, refrigerated dough products, savory snacks, canned vegetables, side dishes, soups, and variety baking mixes.