As 2008 draws to a close, BakeryandSnacks.com recalls some of the mergers and acquisitions that have seen consolidation of bakery manufacturing over the past year.
Vivartia, Greece's largest food production company, announced in March that it was breaking into the US bakery market with the acquisition of biscuit and cookie firm Nonni. The $320m (€492.7m) acquisition marked the company's first ever move into the US; its operations had previously been focused mainly on Eastern Europe.
Finsbury strengthened its position in the UK gluten-free bakery market in April with the acquisition of two manufacturers in the country - Yorkshire Farm Bakery (YFB) and A&P Foods. The announcement demonstrates a common trend among bakery firms of moving into the market for healthier foods, as companies can no longer rely on traditional products – seen as being full of unhealthy fat and sugar – to maintain profits.
Kraft Foods announced on 24 April that it had signed agreements to sell its Artiach biscuits business in Spain to Barcelona-based bakery Panrico, and its Balaton chocolate trademark in Hungary to Nestle. Kraft's decision to divest some of its European trademarks aimed to fulfil regulatory requirements set by the European Commission following Kraft's acquisition of Groupe Danone's global biscuit business, including LU Iberia and Gyori Keksz, in November 2007.
The Vandemoortele Group announced its plans to take over Group Panavi in June, expanding its presence in the European frozen bakery products market. The Belgian company said that with the takeover of Panavi, the French market leader in frozen bakery products, it was “ranking itself among the European top in the sector of frozen bakery products.”
Navigable Foods, a Kellogg's majority-owned subsidiary acquired the assets of Zhenghang Food Company, a manufacturer of cookies and crackers in China in July. The international cereals and convenience foods manufacturer said the business move will help it in its bid to achieve expansion in high-growth markets.
In August, Swiss bakery giant Hiestand and Irish group IAWS, merged to become the world’s biggest manufacturer of frozen baked goods. The new conglomerate was renamed Aryzta, following more than five years of collaboration between the companies. The move was subject to anti-trust assessment but gained approval in early August after being mooted in June.
In October, Fazer Group agreed a deal to acquire farmer-owned Swedish cooperative Lantmännen Färskbröd which would make it the second-largest producer of bakery products in Sweden. Fazer said it plans to invest €50m in the bakery over the next three years pending the deal’s approval by the Swedish Competition Commission.