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Electrolux buys sous vide machine maker Anova for $250 million

The Swedish appliance giant announced early Monday that it would buy the US-based sous vide startup.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Anova Culinary displayed its updated line of precision cookers at CES 2017 in Las Vegas.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Electrolux, the world's second largest appliance company, will buy the precision cooker manufacturer Anova Culinary for $250 million, the companies announced Sunday.

"Although we, from afar, come across as very different companies, we have a lot in common," said Ola Nilsson, the executive vice president of small appliances at Electrolux, in a video to Anova employees. "We have a great passion for great tasting food, both of us."

Anova is known for its Anova Precision Cooker ($138.99 at Amazon.com), an immersion circulator that heats and controls the temperature of a water bath you'd use for sous vide cooking. Here's how sous vide (French for "under vacuum") works: You put a cut of meat or another food item into a plastic bag and remove as much air as you can from the inside. You put the bag into a container of water. A sous vide machine like the Anova Precision Cooker will heat that water to the temperature you set and maintain that temperature while your food cooks inside the plastic bag.

Anova launched its precision cooker with a successful campaign on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter in 2014. Since then, the small appliance has evolved to include versions with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, along with a $99 Bluetooth model (the company's cheapest) that will begin to ship this year. Anova has also created a precision oven that's set for a summer 2017 release; the countertop oven will sear, convection bake, steam cook and connect to the company's precision cookers. And Anova products have become more widely available since they were first released online only -- you can now buy a precision cooker at Target or Best Buy.

"It's really a different business model than what we're used to, and it's something we can learn a lot from," Electrolux CEO Jonas Samuelson said in an online video about the acquisition.

As part of the acquisition, Anova will continue to operate "with its own distinct brand identity" under the leadership of the company's CEO and cofounder Stephen Svajian, the company said. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and final closing conditions.

Electrolux's investment in Anova could help bolster the popularity of sous vide in America. We've seen big-name manufacturers such as KitchenAid put their brand behind sous vide devices in other countries, where the method of cooking is more common, but Stockholm-based Electrolux is the largest company we've seen take an interest in an American sous vide product. With the resources of an appliance giant at its disposal, we could see more products from Anova, integration with Electrolux's large appliances, wider availability of Anova's current products -- or a combination of all three.

"With Electrolux, we'll have the resources and reach to continue to change the way people cook," Svajian said in a statement. "Electrolux is committed to helping Anova continue its mission of building the Anova Kitchen  --  a kitchen where devices are precise, dead simple to use, affordable and connected in a meaningful way to help people cook like pros every day."

Anova is also poised to expand more aggressively overseas thanks to Electrolux's established international footprint, Svajian said.

Electrolux's purchase of Anova shows that the manufacturer wants to become more of a household name in America through its small appliances. The company's lineup of countertop cooking appliances is pretty slim in the US, and in December 2015, it downsized its small appliance operations in the US, Sweden and China. The cutbacks were related to its attempt to acquire GE Appliances and a subsequent payout of $175 million to end that deal after an objection from the US Department of Justice (China-based Haier later bought GE Appliances). Electrolux's small appliances arm seems to be back on its feet, but ready to invest in established companies like Anova rather than starting from scratch with its own products.