F&B deal activity takes a breather

Following a frenetic end to 2017, corporate activity in the food and beverage industry slowed down in January and February, with six transactions announced during this period.

In2Food Group, a supplier of freshly prepared meals to David Jones, announced the acquisition of three state-based fruit and vegetable providore businesses: Yarra Valley Farms, T&F All States and Briz Fresh. The combined value of the three acquisitions is estimated to be $50 million.

Private equity firm, Next Capital, completed the acquisition of Noisette Bakery. Noisette is a Melbourne-based artisanal commercial bakery that sells a range of breads, cakes and pastries. The business distributes to the foodservice market in Melbourne and also distributes from two retail sites in Melbourne.

Acquisitions announced
As reported in our previous article, Quadrant Private Equity acquired an 85 per cent shareholding in confectionery maker, Darrell Lea, in what is considered a standout transaction. The transaction values the Darrell Lea business at approximately $200 million.

Grocery delivery business Aussie Farmers Direct entered voluntary administration on 5 March 2018, with the closure of the business described as “hugely disappointing”. Aussie Farmers Direct had approximately 100 franchisees, 260 employees and 100,000 customers and was started 13 years ago. Korda Mentha was appointed as administrator.

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[Ben van der Westhuizen and David Baveystock are directors of Comet Line Consulting, an advisory business that specialises in acquisitions and divestments within the Australian food and beverage industry. For more information visit  www.cometlineconsulting.com.au]

Grocery clearance store business NQR sold

Grocery clearance store business NQR has been sold as a going concern and will continue to operate.

Bruno Secatore and Luke Targett of turnaround, restructuring and insolvency advisory firm Cor Cordis were appointed as Administrators of the Australian-owned NQR Grocery Clearance Stores business on 24 January 2018.

NQR offers a simple and effective clearance solution for manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, offering big brand products at cheap prices across Victoria. The business has continued to trade throughout the Administration period from its remaining 14 stores, after four stores were closed shortly after the appointment.

“Following a process of making improvements to prepare the business as an attractive asset for sale, we are very pleased to be able to announce that an agreement to sell the business as a going concern has been successfully negotiated,” Cor Cordis Partner Luke Targett said.

“We consider this to be a very positive result given the tough retail environment. We appreciate the unwavering support of the NQR staff, suppliers and loyal customers. We are pleased that the long established business will continue to provide a niche offering to the community and that so many jobs have been saved,” he said.

Based in Melbourne, the company currently has almost 200 staff, both in retail and administration.

The Purchaser will take day-to-day control of the business from 12 April 2018 by way of a License Agreement with completion of the sale expected to occur immediately prior to the second meeting of creditors around mid May 2018.

A spokesman for the entity that has purchased the NQR business – a private equity group run by like-minded deep discount professionals – said that they look forward to reviving the NQR business, a true Australian owned discount grocery business, with a key focus on delivering unparalleled savings to everyday customers.

“In the coming weeks there will be a formal announcement from the incoming CEO who will announce exciting news for all customers, suppliers & partners of the NQR business,” the spokesperson said.

The NQR business will continue to operate as normal and will be focused on offering great discounts on leading grocery items to all its customers.

NHP to acquire Rockwell Automation related business assets

NHP Electrical Engineering Products (NHP) announced today the acquisition of the Rockwell Automation related business assets from Rexel Industrial Automation, a business of Rexel Australia.  As part of the transaction, NHP has been granted exclusive distribution rights for the complete range of Rockwell Automation products, systems and solutions throughout New South Wales and South East Queensland. This acquisition expands NHP’s existing distribution coverage for Rockwell Automation to now cover the entire South Pacific region.

“With the acquisition of the Rockwell Automation related business assets from Rexel Industrial Automation which includes a strong team of automation professionals, we have strengthened NHP’s position as the local choice for specialist electrical and automation products, systems and solutions. As the exclusive distributor across the entire South Pacific for Rockwell Automation combined with NHP’s existing complimentary product solutions and value-add manufacturing capabilities, we have the largest coverage of automation and control solutions in the region,” said NHP’s CEO & Managing Director, Stephen Coop.

The acquisition by NHP expands opportunities for Rockwell Automation in New South Wales and South East Queensland by leveraging NHP’s extensive manufacturing and partner network.

“We are proud and excited to be expanding our relationship with NHP across the South Pacific region as we work together to further enhance the efficiency of our customers, by delivering smarter, safer and more sustainable operational outcomes through Rockwell Automation’s Connected Enterprise solutions and by providing a simpler model to engage with our businesses across the South Pacific. We would like to thank Rexel for their strong partnership and collaboration over the past 17 years in this region,” said Scott Wooldridge, Managing Director Australia and New Zealand, Rockwell Automation.

“Rexel Industrial Automation has made a very positive contribution to the Rexel business as an authorised Rockwell Automation distributor over the years.  The sale of Rexel’s Rockwell Automation related business assets to NHP, represents a good outcome for all parties. Rexel remains focused on continuing its growth in the traditional Electrical Distribution market and developing its business across a number of specialty areas with a wide range of technical offerings,” said Rexel Australia’s Managing Director, Robert McLeod.

NHP will assume responsibility for the distribution of Rockwell Automation throughout the entire South Pacific region on 1st May 2018.  During April 2018, NHP and Rexel Industrial Automation will continue to trade as separate entities throughout this one month transition period. NHP will be in contact with all existing Rockwell Automation customers from Rexel Industrial Automation throughout April.

Image:  (l-r) Scott Wooldridge (Rockwell Automation) and Stephen Coop (NHP)

 

ACCC flags concerns about Saputo-Murray Goulburn deal

The ACCC says its concerns around the proposed acquisition of the assets of Murray Goulburn by Saputo are solely in relation to Murray Goulburn’s Koroit dairy plant in western Victoria, in particular the impact the acquisition will have on competition for farmers’ milk in the area.

The ACCC outlined its concerns in a Statement of Issues paper today and is seeking responses from interested parties by 13 March.

The ACCC says Saputo’s Allansford plant and Murray Goulburn’s Koroit plant would have over two thirds of the raw milk processing capacity in the south-west Victoria / south-east South Australia region. The two plants currently acquire the majority of raw milk from dairy farmers in the area.

“While Saputo is proposing to acquire most of the Murray Goulburn business, our only concern is in relation to Murray Goulburn’s Koroit plant,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“Our view is that Saputo owning the Koroit plant would substantially lessen competition for the acquisition of dairy farmers’ raw milk in the region.”

Fonterra is the only other major competitor with a processing plant in the region. The ACCC’s concerns are that Saputo and Fonterra would be more likely to offer lower prices if Saputo acquired Koroit, and that there would be very limited alternatives for many farmers.

“When Murray Goulburn dropped its prices in 2015–16, Fonterra was quick to follow. Our analysis has shown that many farmers switched to Saputo in response, the only other major processor nearby,” Mr Sims said.

“We are concerned this transaction would ultimately lead to lower prices being paid to dairy farmers in the region.”

The ACCC says during its extensive consultations with farmers in the area, it heard from dairy farmers who just want the Saputo transaction to proceed.

“We understand Murray Goulburn faces an uncertain future, and that many farmers just want certainty after a tumultuous few years,” Mr Sims said.

“However, if the acquisition of Koroit by Saputo proceeds, our view is that dairy farmers in the region will be worse off and face lower raw milk prices in the longer run. It’s important to preserve competition in these markets so dairy farmers get a price for their product determined by healthy competition.”

“The ACCC considers that Koroit would remain in the market, continue to operate, and would likely be acquired by another business if the Saputo acquisition does not proceed,” Mr Sims said.

There are unlikely to be competition concerns in other regions where there is currently no overlap between Murray Goulburn plants and Saputo plants, or in downstream dairy product markets, such as fresh milk, butter, cheese and cream.

While concerns were expressed by industry participants in relation to bulk cream, the ACCC considered that those concerns arose primarily from a recent decrease in bulk cream production overall rather than any potential impact on competition from the proposed acquisition.

The ACCC invites further submissions from interested parties in response to the Statement of Issues by 13 March. The ACCC’s final decision is due on 29 March.

Corporate activity in food & beverage industry looking strong

Corporate activity in the food and beverage industry was high in November and December 2017 with several substantial transactions announced during this period. Deal making momentum has continued in the fourth quarter of 2017 with nine acquisitions announced.

Acquisitions announced

The standout transaction in the quarter was the acquisition of an 85% shareholding in Darrell Lea by Quadrant Private Equity. The transaction values the Darrell Lea business at approximately $200 million. Darrell Lea reported earnings of $23 million in 2017. Quadrant Private Equity also acquired the VIP Petfoods business from the Quinn family in 2015.

In the animal feed sector, private equity firm Adamantem Capital, announced the acquisition of a controlling stake in high performance horse food maker Hygain, for around $150 million.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewer acquired Adelaide based craft brewer, Pirate Life. AB InBev announced that it would inject $10 million into Pirate Life to commission a new brewing facility. The acquisition of Pirate Life follows on AB Inbev’s acquisition of 4 Pines brewery in September 2017.

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Lion acquired a minority stake in Schibello Coffee. Schibello is the owner of the Schibello, Art Caffé and Cleanskin coffee brands and the Paddington Fine Tea and Chocoloco hot chocolate brands. The acquisition is consistent with Lion’s strategy to seek investment opportunities in high growth categories where there are synergies with the Lion business.

Listings on the ASX

Ocean Grown Abalone successfully listed on the Australian Securities Exchange on 17 November 2017 after raising $10 million. The company is positioned to accelerate development of its clean, green and sustainable sea ranching model for quality ocean grown abalone product.

2018 is shaping up to be a dynamic year across the food and beverage industry with strong investor interest in the industry from both trade investors and financial investors.

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Ben van der Westhuizen and David Baveystock are directors of Comet Line Consulting, an advisory business that specialises in acquisitions and divestments within the Australian food & beverage industry. For more information visit www.cometlineconsulting.com.au.

 

Murray Goulburn still having trouble as it awaits sale

Murray Goulburn has experienced a 30 per cent drop in milk intake, as it waits for its sale to Canadian dairy giant Saputo to be approved.

On top of that, the dairy co-operative posted a $1.1 billion fall in revenue and an after tax loss of $27.5 million for the period.

MG said in a statement that successful completion of the of the sale is expected to result in a favourable outcome for stakeholders, including ensuring value for shareholders and unit holders and a competitive milk price and milk collection commitment for suppliers.

“The first half of this financial year has continued to be challenging for MG. The inability to pay a competitive milk price has resulted in a substantial loss of milk. While management initiatives continue to address the cost base and commercial performance, the business remains exposed to competitive pressures and future refinancing requirements,” said MG’s Chief Executive Officer, Ari Mervis.

The sale is subject to approval by an ordinary resolution of MG’s voting shareholders at a MG shareholders’ meeting, as well as by the ACCC and the Foreign Investment Review Board and completion of other customary conditions. It is expected to close in the first half of this year.

Nufarm acquires FMC herbicide portfolio

Nufarm has completed the acquisition of a European herbicide product portfolio from FMC Corporation. The proposed acquisition was announced back in Novermber 2017.

According to a Nufarm press release, the company’s program of work to integrate the portfolio into its European product suite is well advanced. In the first full year of Nufarm ownership (FY2019), the portfolio is expected to generate net sales of approximately $30 million an d contribute EBITDA of approximately $15 million. In the 2018 financial year, Nufarm anticipates an underlying EBITDA contribution from the newly acquired product portfolio of approximately $5 million.

Currently, Nufarm’s acquisition of the Century European product portfolio from Adama and Sygenta is progressing through the European Commission approval process. This process is ongoing, with acquisition completion anticipated in Q1 2018.

Keurig, Dr Pepper Snapple merge to create beverage giant

Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Keurig Green Mountain have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create Keurig Dr Pepper (“KDP”), a new beverage company of scale with a portfolio of iconic consumer brands and unrivalled distribution capability to reach virtually every point-of-sale in North America.

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the Dr Pepper Snapple Board of Directors, Dr Pepper Snapple shareholders will receive US$103.75 per share in a special cash dividend and retain 13 per cent of the combined company.

KDP will have pro forma combined 2017 annual revenues of approximately $11 billion. This combination of two iconic beverage companies joins together well-known brands Dr Pepper, 7UP, Snapple, A&W, Mott’s and Sunkist with leading coffee brand Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and the innovative Keurig single-serve coffee system, as well as more than 75 owned, licensed and partner brands in the Keurig system.

Larry Young, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dr Pepper Snapple, said, “This transaction will deliver significant and immediate value to our shareholders, along with the opportunity to participate in the long-term upside potential of our combined company and attract new brands and beverage categories to our platform in a fast-changing industry landscape. We are excited to combine with Keurig to build on the rich heritage and expertise of both companies and provide the highest-quality hot and cold beverages to satisfy every consumer throughout the day.”

Bob Gamgort, Chief Executive Officer of Keurig, said, “Our view of the industry through the lens of consumer needs, versus traditional manufacturer-defined segments, unlocks the opportunity to combine hot and cold beverages and create a platform to increase exposure to high-growth formats. The combination of Dr Pepper Snapple and Keurig will create a new scale beverage company which addresses today’s consumer needs, with a powerful platform of consumer brands and an unparalleled distribution capability to reach virtually every consumer, everywhere. We are fortunate to have talented leadership teams within both companies, and I look forward to working together with the Dr Pepper Snapple team to make this combination a success for all of our stakeholders.”

Keurig and Dr Pepper Snapple will continue to operate out of their current locations and Bob Gamgort, CEO of the combined company, will be based in Burlington, Mass. The combined company will draw on the leadership teams of both companies, who will continue running their respective businesses.

Brownes Dairy sold to Shanghai Ground Food Tech

Chinese firm Shanghai Ground Food Tech has purchased the 130-year-old Western Australian dairy company, Brownes Dairy.

Brownes said in a statement that the deal will see Brownes remain an integral part of the WA dairy industry for generations to come, while creating access to emerging overseas markets and the potential for new product development.

Under the terms of sale, Brownes will retain its current management, including Managing Director Tony Girgis whose decision to lead the business going forward was important to both parties.

Girgis said today’s announcement was a defining moment for the future of WA’s oldest dairy as it looked to continue producing some of the highest quality dairy products anywhere in the world.

“As it has done for 130 years, Brownes will remain an important part of the WA community and continue to contribute to the sustainability of the local dairy industry,” Girgis said.

“This deal is a significant step in positioning Brownes for growth well into the future and we are excited at the opportunities offered to the business, our suppliers, employees and consumers.”

 

Girgis said the deal would pave the way for Brownes to develop new product lines and access emerging export markets, particularly in Asia.

WAFarmers Dairy Section President Michael Partridge welcomed the purchase.

“The new owner is a Chinese company that has experience in operating dairy businesses in China,” he said.

“It is hoped this understanding will gain the WA dairy industry greater access to markets in China and hopefully other Asian countries moving forward, which can only be embraced as a positive move, particularly if local manufacturing capacities are also developed.

Chinese investors buy The Real Pet Food Company

The majority owner of the Real Pet Food Company, Quadrant Private Equity, has announced that it has entered into an agreement to divest its interest in the Company to a partnership comprising some of the Asia-Pacific’s leading investors.

The transaction, which is subject to FIRB approval, values the Real Pet Food Company at $1 billion.

The partner group is led by Hosen Capital, a leading private equity firm based in Beijing, together with China’s largest private agribusiness enterprise New Hope Group, and Singapore investment company, Temasek.

Quadrant Private Equity invested into the Real Pet Food Company in June 2015 alongside the founding Quinn family and management. Since then, the Company has grown significantly through innovation in brands, products and markets across ranges such as Nature’s Gift, Nature’s Goodness, Farmers Market, Billy + Margot, Ivory Coat and Jimbos.

The new partner group will continue to drive innovation and growth in Australia and New Zealand, alongside the Quinn family and management. The partners will also take advantage of their regional and international operations to help grow the Real Pet Food Company internationally.

“Everybody wins…” said David Grant, the CEO of the Real Pet Food Company. “For the past two years Quadrant have supported us to grow strongly in our home markets. Now our Asia- Pacific partners are ideally suited to support us as we look to take our success to the Chinese and North American markets.”

“Our products being Australian-made gives us a significant advantage. Our provenance will be important as we grow offshore. All the while, we will maintain our passion and focus on being be the best, most caring and innovative, pet food company in Australia and New Zealand.”

“This is a logical next step for a real local success story. Our partners share a common vision for the Real Pet Food Company. The opportunity to each bring our respective capabilities will help the company accelerate its growth and open new market opportunities,” said Nick Dowling, CEO of New Hope Group in Australia & New Zealand and spokesperson for the partner group.

 

Kraft buys Gravox, Fountain brands

Multinational food giant Kraft Heinz has purchased Suntory Group’s Cerebos Food & Instant Coffee business, which includes brands like Gravox and Fountain, for $A290 million.

The sale is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2018, subject to regulatory approvals.

The deal also includes the brands Saxa, Foster Clark’s, Gregg’s, Bisto, Raro and Asian Home Gourmet. However, it does not include the Cerebos Fresh Coffee business in Australia/New Zealand, which SBF will retain and will form part of a new business unit focused on capturing a larger share of the rapidly growing global fresh coffee market.

Bruno Lino, CEO of Kraft Heinz Australia and New Zealand, who will lead the combined business, said: “The transaction provides an exciting opportunity for Kraft Heinz to expand its portfolio into complementary categories, stretching the footprint of Cerebos’ brands into new categories and markets.”

“In addition to the iconic local brands, Cerebos has a strong team that will play an important role in our future growth. This transaction reinforces our commitment and long-term plan to the Australia and New Zealand markets in addition to our significant investment in the Kraft brand for 2018. We will continue investing in our brands, factories and our employees to meet consumer needs and expectations.”

Terry Svenson, CEO of Cerebos Australia/New Zealand, said the company was pleased with the outcome of the transaction.

“As we announced in April 2017, the Food & Instant Coffee business has a number of market-leading brands across Australia and New Zealand and has made significant progress in recent years, particularly in relation to improvements in manufacturing efficiency.

“However, Food & Instant Coffee is not a core focus category for SBF and we believe this business can be maximised under different ownership. The Food & Instant Coffee business will now have opportunities to leverage Kraft Heinz’s operations to grow the business further.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corporate activity in food & beverage sector remains high

Within the food and beverage sector, deal making momentum from the second quarter of the year was carried forward into the third quarter. A total of eight acquisitions were announced in the third quarter, with the pipeline for the remainder of the year looking strong.

Acquisitions announced

Brisbane based Blue Sky private equity acquired a majority stake in Adelaide based Sunfresh Salads. Sunfresh Salads is a major supplier of ready to eat meals, fresh salads and frozen products to retail and foodservice in South Australia and Victoria.

Unilever Australia announced the acquisition of Toowoomba based Weis ice cream. The Weis ice cream range will complement Unilever’s existing brand portfolio which includes Ben & Jerry’s, Grom, Talenti and Streets.

Light Warrior, the investment fund set up by former Swisse Wellness CEO, Radek Sali, has made an equity investment in Hydralyte as part of a capital raise. The proceeds from capital raise will be applied to fund Hydralyte’s US expansion.

Bindaree Beef sold 51 per cent of the company to the Hui family and Archstone Investment Co in return for a significant investment in Bindaree Beef. The Hong Kong based Hui family acquired the shareholding in Bindaree Beef after Shangdong Delisi walked away from a deal to acquire 45 per cent of Bindaree Beef in 2016.

The Kin Group, back by Raphael Geminder, acquired the Cobs Popcorn business from founders John and Ravit Walys. Recent investments made by the Kin Group includes Green’s Foods and The Cake Syndicate.

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Listings on the ASX

There have been no listings of food and beverage businesses on the ASX in the months of July and August 2017.

The number of new listings, especially smaller IPOs of food and beverage business, have reduced significantly in 2017 mainly due to a lack of institutional funds interested in smaller IPOs.

Deal activity notably remained high in the third quarter of 2017 and we expect this high level of activity to continue for the remainder of 2017.

Ben van der Westhuizen and David Baveystock are directors of Comet Line Consulting, an advisory business that specialises in acquisitions and divestments within the Australian food and beverage industry.

Allegro Funds buys Everest Foods

Sydney-based turnaround firm Allegro Funds has purchased Everest Foods, a manufacturer and distributor of premium ice cream, gelato, sorbet and frozen desserts.

Established in 1958 and based in Melbourne, Everest Foods’ brands include NorgenVaaz and Gelateria brands and the Everest gelato brand. The company has a unique platform underpinned by leading agile production capabilities, long-standing customer relationships and national distribution footprint.

Comet Line Consulting advised Everest Foods on the sale of the business.

“We are delighted to have helped the vendor successfully exit Everest Foods and to have found such a strong new owner for the business,” said Ben van der Westhuizen, Director, Comet Line Consulting.

Murray Goulburn side steps buyout speculation

Dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn has avoided speculation around who will buy it out, saying there is no certainty that any transaction will even eventuate.

Media reports have named Bega Cheese, Chinese dairy company Yili, New Zealand’s Fonterra, Denmark-based international co-op Arla, Chinese group Fuyuan Farming, and Canada’s Saputo (which owns Warrnambool Cheese and Butter) as possible bidders for MG.

A statement from MG read: “MG confirms that it has received a number of confidential, non-binding indicative proposals. These proposals have ranged from the sale of certain assets to whole of company transactions. No offer has been received for the units in MG Unit Trust for $1.20 per unit, as speculated in the media.

“MG and its financial advisor Deutsche Bank AG are engaging with a number of parties to assess their proposals, including valuation. At this point it is too early to make any comment about valuation or implementation. MG notes there is no certainty that any transaction will eventuate.”

Any offers from overseas would be subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Packaging companies Propac, IPG announce merger

Packaging manufacturer Pro-Pac has agreed to a $177.5 million transformational merger with Integrated Packaging Group (IPG).

IPG is Australia’s largest specialist manufacturer in flexibles, film and wrap – and operates five manufacturing facilities across Australia and New Zealand.

“The combination of Pro-Pac and IPG provides many exciting opportunities in the growing Australian flexibles packaging market,” said Pro-Pac CEO Grant Harrod.

“Pro-Pac’s expanded capacity to manufacture and distribute high-quality products will delight our customer base and provide us with a one-stop-shop offering.

“Pro-Pac will be a world class manufacturer without geographic constraints as we increase our offerings in key areas such as food service and agriculture film.”

The merger will also see Rupert Harrington, Advent’s executive chairman, appointed to Pro-Pac’s senior management team, bringing to the table experience in manufacturing, services, health and technology.

IPG’s CEO, John Cerini, will also be appointed to lead Pro-Pac’s Industrial and Flexible Division.

“The acquisition of IPG represents a significant milestone in the realisation of Pro-Pac’s vision to become the pre-eminent flexible and industrial packaging manufacturer and distributer in Australia,” said Pro-Pac chairman Ahmed Fahour.

“The opportunity to combine two very complementary businesses will deliver significant long-term value to Pro-Pac shareholders.”

Buyout of Western Meat Packers Abattoir

Rod and Shana Russell have completed a buyout of Russell and Lee family members in Western Meat Packers Group’s Margaret River abattoir. This means the couple now have 100 per cent ownership of all assets of Western Meat Packers Group, which employs 360 people and has an annual turnover of about $150 million.

Announcing the successful buyout, WMPG CEO Andrew Fuda said such a positive investment by the founders of the business, which began in 1983, signalled an exciting stage in the beef company’s future.

With a five day a week throughput of about 400 cattle a day and some relief in sight in terms of cattle supply, the Margaret River facility, located on a 100-hectare site and employing 100 people, is implementing significant chiller capacity upgrades and other fitouts to accommodate developing export market prospects.

“Although we currently send all beef, typically sides and quarters, overnight to WMPG’s Osborne Park boning and packing facility to ensure rapid turnaround from paddock to plate, we’re moving towards boning and packing at our Margaret River plant to optimise expanding business opportunities in Asia in particular,” Fuda said.

“A new integrated chiller and freezer unit at Margaret River will allow faster packing and freezing, minimising shrinkage while also improving yields of offals, which are becoming increasingly sought after by WMPG’s Asian export customers.

According to Fuda, the new fitout also meant that shifts could be expanded and processing could move to seven days, with a weekly slaughter capacity of more than 4000 head.

“Also, with chilling and freezing all under one roof and on the site where the cattle are slaughtered and processed, it’ll put us in the frame for export listings for China and Malaysia, both markets we’ve been working on for quite some time,” he said

“The Western Meat Packers brand and reputation for quality and reliability in Asian markets, developed and nurtured over 30 plus years by Rod and senior management gives us confidence that once equipped with the appropriate listings, we can move quickly to supply.”

Jamie Warburton Andrew Fuda at WMPG Margaret River.
Jamie Warburton Andrew Fuda at WMPG Margaret River.

Unilever buys Aussie ice cream company Weis

Multinational food giant Uniliver has purchased Weis, the 60 year-old Australian maker of the iconic mango and cream ice cream bar.

Weis was founded in 1957 by Les Weis with the original iconic Fruito Bar. Its unique range features a variety of formats including single bar, multi-pack bars, dairy-free sorbet tubs and frozen yogurt tubs. Weis ice creams continue to be made in its factory in Toowoomba, Queensland, using locally sourced, natural and high-quality ingredients.

“We are committed to providing Weis consumers and customers with the same exceptional products with the same high quality natural ingredients and we are pleased to be continuing its manufacturing operation here in Toowoomba. We look forward to welcoming Weis’ strong, dedicated and passionate team to Unilever,” said Clive Stiff, Unilever Australia & New Zealand CEO.

Stiff pointed out that another of Unilever’s ice crean brands, Streets, was created in Australia by Edwin ‘Ted’ Street in the 1920s and that ice cream is strategically important to Unilever Australia.

“Our family made this decision because Unilever demonstrated their understanding of our brand, our products and how important our people and the Toowoomba manufacturing site are in ensuring Weis’ success into the future,” said Weis Managing Director, Julie Weis.

“In addition Unilever’s scale will enable greater market access and growth that will provide opportunities for our extended Weis family of staff, suppliers, customers and of course our wonderful consumers. “

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Detmold acquires Heshan Innopak business in China

Australian owned packaging company, Detmold Group has reached agreement with United States based Novolex to purchase the Heshan Innopak assets and business. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of August.

Innopak is a subsidiary of the Burrows Paper Corporation which was acquired by Novolex in December 2016. Innopak manufactures a range of food wraps, paper takeaway, carry and industrial bags and food cartons in its facility in Heshan, Guangdong, China.

Detmold Group has been successfully operating in China for over 20 years, employing over 800 people and operating a substantial manufacturing facility in the Heshan, China area. Detmold Group will take over the Innopak operations and continue to manufacture at both sites ensuring all customers receive a seamless transition. All Innopak staff will be offered employment by Detmold on comparable terms, including local Innopak management.

“We are pleased to announce this acquisition, which is an important step in our continued growth in the China market. Detmold Group’s global customers will also benefit from the additional capacity and capability that this manufacturing expansion brings to our organization,” said Detmold Group Chief Executive Officer, Alf Ianniello.

“We hope that all of Innopak’s 120 staff take up our offer to continue their careers with the Detmold Group.”

Spice maker McCormick buys Reckitt Benckiser Group’s food division

Reckitt Benckiser Group has entered into an agreement to sell its Food business, including the French’s, Frank’s RedHot and Cattlemen’s brands, to McCormick & Company for $4.2 billion on a cash-free, debt-free basis.

Today’s announcement follows a comprehensive strategic review of French’s Food. The valuation achieved reflects the quality of this highly profitable, growth business.

McCormick will retain the leading brand names of French’s, Frank’s RedHot and Cattlemen’s. RB Food’s focus on creating high quality products with simple ingredients makes it a strong match with McCormick.

“Our French’s Food business is a true reflection of RB’s strengths – a portfolio of great brands driven through a culture of innovation by passionate people to deliver consistent outperformance. We are pleased to be selling to owners who can provide the necessary resources, market expertise and global platform, whilst being a good home for our people. French’s Food is well positioned to continue on its successful growth trajectory under the food-focused ownership of McCormick,” said Rakesh Kapoor, Chief Executive Officer of RB.

The consideration is subject to customary working capital adjustments at completion. RB intends to use the net proceeds to reduce its debt. The transaction is subject to certain regulatory approvals and completion is expected during Q3 2017. The transaction constitutes a class 2 transaction for the purposes of the UK Listing Rules.

Vegemite back in Australian hands

Vegemite has returned to Australian hands, with Bega Cheese finalising its acquisition of the brand from Mondelez International.

The $460m deal, which was stalled by a cyber attack, includes the iconic Vegemite brand as well as other brands such as ZoOSh salad dressings and beef extract Bonox.

The acquisition includes the brands’ manufacturing facilities.

Bega Cheese executive chairman Barry Irvin has said the Vegemite brand will continue to focus on local growth, however there are also plans to expand to the Asian market.

The deal has led to the creation of 200 jobs in Melbourne.

The takeover was initially stalled due to an outage of the Mondelez global IT network, which was attributed to a global cyber attack.

This is the first time in 90 years that the Vegemite brand has been in Australian ownership.