Leading Japanese manufacturer, Nichirei Foods, has bought 51 per cent of the Japanese sales office of the international bakery group.
Jesper Skovlund, a spokesperson for the firm, told BakeryandSnacks that the Asian markets have been challenging for Lantmännen in that bread is not such a staple part of the diet there.
He said that teaming up with Nichirei Foods will boost their presence in Japan and other Asian markets as the Japanese company has the contacts and marketing know-how to assist Lantmännen in gaining a stronger foothold in the region.
The company envisages that the partnership will result in a doubling of turnover for its frozen bread range over the next 24 months in Japan.
The bakery group said that it has also sold its Korean sales company to the local management team, who are set to continue the business as sole agent of Unibake’s products.
Skovlund said the new operations set up in both Japan and Korea will free up Lantmännen’s resources to concentrate new investment in the markets where it is strongest, mainly Europe and North America but he did not disclose if this strategy is would be translated into acquisitions in those regions over the coming months.
Over the last 18 months Lantmännen Unibake has invested heavily in the UK market.
In May 2008 the bakery group bought the bakery Eurobuns and one year later acquired the majority shareholding in Bakehouse, the UK’s leading supplier of Danish pastries, croissants and speciality bread, to make the UK now Lantmännen Unibake’s largest market.
And the group said it is set to further consolidating its position in the UK market by investing in new production capacity.
Last month, Lantmännen said that it also streamlined operations in Denmark through the replacement of two existing lines in Holstebro and Hatting with a new bakery line that is expected to start production of its breakfast range by spring 2011.