American food group Kraft has sold its Life Savers and Altoids confectionery division to chewing gum company Wrigleys for $1.5bn.

The group, which also owns Nabisco cereals and Maxwell House coffee, is in the process of closing up to 20 plants internationally in a bid to streamline its portfolio of brands.

Wrigley saw off rival bidders Cadbury Schweppes and Nestlé to secure the deal, having failed to buy the chocolate producer Hershey in 2002.