Nestle SA (NESN), the world's largest food company, is looking to divest its PowerBar energy bars, a pioneer of sports nutrition products, according to four people familiar with the matter.

The sale of PowerBar could fetch several hundred million dollars, the people said this week. They asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

Nestle declined to comment.

The brand, which one of the sources said generates about $175 million in revenue, was founded by Brian Maxwell, a Canadian athlete and entrepreneur.

Nestle bought it in 2000 for an undisclosed price, though some media reports pegged it at $375 million. The brand now includes a range of energy bars, sports drinks, gels and protein supplements but is facing increasing competition from other brands with wider appeal such as Clif Bar & Company and Kind Healthy Snacks.

Nestle, based in Vevey, Switzerland, sells everything from baby formula, bottled water and coffee to ice cream, chocolate bars and pet food. The once best-in-class company has stumbled lately, and missed sales forecasts in the first half of 2013 and trimmed its full-year target.

Its results have disappointed investors for several straight quarters, with second-quarter figures suggesting a sharp slowdown to the lowest sales growth in over three years.

The company said it was "actively looking" at its 8,000 brands for laggards. In addition to PowerBar, other possible candidates for pruning could include Jenny Craig diet centers and Lean Cuisine frozen meals, analysts have said.

Nestle is not the only conglomerate divesting underperforming or unrelated businesses.

Rival Unilever Plc (ULVR) parted with its Skippy peanut butter and Wish-Bone salad dressings , Campbell Soup Co (CPB) struck a deal to sell some European brands and GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) is selling its Lucozade and Ribena drinks.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller in London and Olivia Oran in New York; editing by Soyoung Kim and Matthew Lewis)