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Princes invests in new tomato processing business

By Sarah Hills , 26-Jan-2012

Princes invests in new tomato processing business

Princes is to become part-owner of its first tomato processing plant in a move expected to bring closer links with growers and suppliers.

The food and drink group and its Italian tomato supply partner, AR Industrie Alimentari SpA (ARIA), have created a new company to include the acquisition of ARIA’s tomato processing factory in Foggia, Italy. The factory produces ambient tomatoes and other Italian products.

The new company, Princes Industrie Alimentari SrL (PIA), will be majority owned (51 per cent) by Princes, whereas previously it had a small shareholding in the Aria business.

Princes stated: “The investment significantly enhances Princes’ scale internationally and provides access to new customers and markets.

“It also supports the further growth of the Napolina business by giving Princes a more direct relationship with its supply partners in Italy.”

Princes is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation. It manufactures, imports and distributes branded and customer own brand products. The Napolina brand includes pasta and Italian pasta sauce.

New European customers

Traditionally Princes has mainly been a UK food manufacturing business, with a number of UK production sites. It’s also claimed to be the third largest drinks supplier in the UK.

However, a spokesman for Princes, which has its headquarters in the UK, told FoodNavigator.com that this latest investment allows the company to “expand their food production into Europe and gets them access to new European customers and market”.

He added: “As a group, Princes is very keen to acquire companies. The last two acquisitions were significant food manufacturing sites.”

He also described them as both resulting in an increased relationship with producers.

In July last year Princes acquired two major UK canning sites in East Anglia in order to grow its business in the UK and continental Europe and they apparently use a large amount of produce from the region.

Princes’ new company includes the Italian factory, which has been in operation since 2009, and some of the supply agreements. Products produced at the 120,000 square metre processing site are for retail, food service and the food manufacturing sector.

It claims the business is expected to generate annual sales exceeding €200 million and process around 400,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes annually.

Ken Critchley, managing director of Princes, said: “This is a significant development for our group and an important step in our strategy for further international growth. PIA creates new partnerships for our business and broadens our access to new customers and markets. The company will continue to support the agricultural community in Italy by developing strong relationships with local growers and suppliers.”

The transfer of ARIA’s assets into the new PIA company is expected to take place within the next few months, subject to regulatory approval.

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