Frozen bakery buys see Kerry capitalise on Asia-Pacific growth

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags General mills Baking

Kerry Group has strengthened its presence in Asia-Pacific region after acquiring General Mills’ Australian bakery businesses for a sum believed to be around €20m.

The global food and ingredients giant will acquire Croissant King and Van den Bergh’s frozen bakery businesses under the terms of the deal, where these firms product frozen dough and pastry products sold to professional bakers.

Director of corporate affairs for Kerry Group, Frank Hayes, confirmed to that the firm had added the firms, with two associated factories, to its existing Kerry Pinnacle pastry business in Australia.

Kerry Group reported in November that Asia-Pacific business volumes grew 15.8 per cent in 2010 relative to the first nine months of 2009, and Hayes said the firm's development within the regional lifestyle bakery segment resulted from “business growth in Australia, while New Zealand and Asian markets are also developing”.

Hayes added: “The purchase consolidates and further grows our position providing lifestyle bakery products to supermarkets and QSRs ​[quick service retailers​] within the region.”

Asia-Pacific growth opportunity

According to General Mills, the sale includes two plants located in Mansfield, Queensland and Camelia, New South Wales, with around 110 employees transfering to Kerry Group when the sale becomes effective on December 1 2010.

Kerry Group’s existing Australian asset Kerry Pinnacle already provides in-house pastries for supermarkets, and stockbroker John O’Reilly from Davy Stockbrokers said the acquisitions could provide an “opportunity to grow the business within Asia Pacific”.

US-based General Mills acquired van den Bergh’s in 1999 and Croissant King in 2005, and managing director Markus Muehleisan said the sale marked a shift in focus for the food firm’s remaining bakery interests, since“General Mills’ focus is on growing our key brands in retail”.

General Mills posted global net sales of US $16bn in 2010, and key retail bakery brands the firm is pushing include Betty Crocker baked goods and Nature Valley muesli bars, with the latter introduced to Australia last April.

Recent Kerry acquisitions

Muehleisan added: “While our bakery team has built a solid business of frozen pastries and dough products serving bakers for almost 20 year, Kerry’s scale and experience also positions it well to grow and advance the business in this category. General Mills will continue to focus on our retail channels.”

Kerry Group's latest acquisition follows other major recent investments. In early November it bought California-based Agilex Flavors, which develops sweet, fruit and brown flavours for bakery, nutritional and beverage sectors; it also acquired Irish-based cheesemaker Newmarket Creameries for around €33m this September.

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