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Owner of Siggi's Icelandic yogurt taps bank for sale

Lauren Hirsch
The owner of the popular Siggi's yogurt brand is working with an investment bank to explore a sale, sources tell CNBC.

The maker of Siggi's Icelandic yogurt is working with investment bank JPMorgan on a possible sale of the company, according to people familiar with the matter.

Siggi's value was not immediately clear.

Owner The Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corporation is one of the first yogurt brands to focus solely on low-sugar flavors. It expects to generate sales of $200 million next year and is growing at a rate of 50 percent a year, the sources said. The brand's sparse white packaging, tart taste and high protein has earned it a loyal following among the health-conscious set.

The sources asked not to be named because the process is confidential. Siggi's did not immediately respond to requests for comment. JP Morgan declined to comment.

The company was founded in 2004 by Siggi Hilmarsson, who had moved from Iceland to the U.S. to attend Columbia Business School.

It sells in retailers like Kroger , Whole Foods Market and Starbucks . A sale to a larger company like Dean Foods , General Mills or Pepsi could give the yogurt brand an opportunity to more quickly scale up. It is not certain whether any of these companies will choose to bid for the company.

The $7.6 billion yogurt category has been a growing segment of the food industry for the past several years, as consumers increasingly look to high-protein alternatives to their morning cereal.

Still, some of the industry's explosive growth has tapered. Yogurt sales dropped 2.5 percent this year over last, according to Nielsen. Sales of Greek yogurt — once the dairy darling — dropped 4.8 percent over last year.

Packaged food giant General Mills recorded a double-digit drop for its yogurt sales this past quarter, as demand for Yoplait Greek and Yoplait Light products remained weak.

Still, much smaller specialty Icelandic and Australian yogurt variations grew 73 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

Siggi's is not the first yogurt brand to tap the interest of corporate acquirers this year. Danone sold its organic Stonyfield yogurt to family-owned French dairy company Lactalis for $875 million, in an auction that also drew the interest of Chinese dairy company Yili, Grupo Lala and Dean Foods .

It is also not the first snack brand to test large food companies' interest, as sales growth of their brands slow and consumers increasingly prefer their food on-the-go. Conagra acquired Boomchickapop popcorn's parent company Angie's Artisan Treats , and Kellogg acquired RX Bar for $600 million .