Wessanen extends into gluten-free market with Mrs Crimble’s acquisition

By Vince Bamford

- Last updated on GMT

Gluten-free market tipped to grow 13% this year. Photo: iStock - szefei
Gluten-free market tipped to grow 13% this year. Photo: iStock - szefei

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Kallo and Bjorg owner Wessanen is extending into the gluten-free market with the acquisition of UK gluten-free baked goods manufacturer Mrs Crimble’s.

Established more than 30 years ago, Mrs Crimble’s is a leading UK free-from brand known for its macaroons and other gluten-free products including cakes, biscuits, snacks and treats.

Mrs Crimble’s net revenue in 2015 was £12.7m ($17m).

Wessanen, which did not reveal financial details of the deal, described Mrs Crimble’s as one of the UK’s best-known names in the gluten-free category, adding it would look to expand the brand's presence in the on-the-go market.

Booming gluten-free market

The acquisition takes Wessanen into the booming gluten-free category, which has been tipped by Mintel to grow 13% in the UK this year to £531m ($700m), up from an estimated £470m ($620m) in 2015.

This gives us a great opportunity to benefit from the growing potential of the free-from category in the UK and internationally​,” added Patrick Cairns, CEO of Wessanen UK. “Mrs Crimble’s is another great addition to our portfolio of natural and healthy brands, which will help us drive further growth in the market​.”

Cairns told BakeryandSnacks that Wessanen had been interested in moving into the gluten-free market for a number of years.

"Mrs Crimble’s was obviously a pioneer of that category​," he said. "We’ve been in contact with Mrs Crimble’s on and off for a number of years, and now seemed the natural time to do this​."

Overseas expansion

Cairns added that Wessanen planned to grow the Mrs Crimble's range and expand its overseas business, which is currently around 10% of turnover.

"We see lots of potential in on-the-go formats, such as cake slices for the convenience channel​," he added.

Mrs Crimble's products are produced through a network of long-term manufacturing partners, and Wessanen would continue to leverage this.

"We are very familiar with that type of manufacturing – about 50% of our goods are sourced through co-packers​," he added. "We can also tap our existing supplier base throughout Europe​."

Dutch business Wessanen focuses on healthier and sustainable businesses, particularly organic brands.

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In the UK, this includes Clipper Teas, Kallo rice cakes, Whole Earth peanut butter and the Almond Breeze milk alternative. Wessanen’s European businesses include organic food brands Bjorg, Allos, Isola Bio and Bonneterre.

Strong base in UK

"The acquisition of Mrs Crimble’s is a further step in the execution of our strategy​,” said Wessanen CEO Christophe Barnouin. “The brand has great knowledge in gluten-free ‘sweet-in-between’ products and a strong base in the UK​.

This acquisition will further strengthen our operations in the UK market and gives us an entry into a strategic growth segment​."

Mrs Crimble’s said it was very proud of what it had achieved.

We believe Wessanen are very well placed to take both the brand and the people who have developed this business on to the next level, both in the UK and internationally​,” added a spokesperson.

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