Speculation is mounting that Anglo-Dutch household products and food giant Unilever is seeking a buyer for its European frozen foods business and has hired Goldman Sachs to trawl for buyers.

Analysts point to a decline in sales in recent years - down year-on-year in 2004 to £4.49 billion ($8.09bn; €6.61bn) from £4.74bn in 2003.

This is attributed to the impact in norther Europe of last year's cooler summer on ice cream sales and the trend for consumers to switch to foods they perceive as healthier.

The division is home to such brands as Birds Eye and Findus plus a range of ice-creams including Solero, Carte d' Or, Heart, Magnum, Ben & Jerry's and Walls.

Word among the moneymen on both sides of the Atlantic is that despite recent heavy investment and relaunches, Unilever no longer sees the frozen foods business as core and looks instead to personal-care and household products to generate its target growth rates.

Data sourced from mad.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff