The owners of Unifine Food & Bake Ingredients put the business up for sale in November 2010, after retaining an investment house to conduct a comprehensive review of the business. It was said to have “achieved a strong European market position and has shown robust financial performance.”
The value of the proposed deal with Dawn Foods has not been disclosed, and it is still subject to the approval of the relevant competition authorities.
While Unifine has production facilities in Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, France, the Netherlands and Romania, Dawn Foods, which has a history dating back 90 years, has a physical presence in The Netherlands and the UK.
Dawn Foods claims to have a global distribution network, but spokesperson Stephen Lee declined to provide any details of the proportion of revenues that are currently generated from European sales, nor the company’s plans for expansion overseas.
CEO Carrie Jones-Barber said in a statement that Unifine is seen as an excellent fit due to the product platform and alignment with geographic market priorities.
If the necessary approvals are granted it is expected that the deal will conclude within the next three months.
Even since it emerged that Unifine was up for sale the supplier of pastry mixes, fillings, flavourings and toppings has continued with its own plan for international expansion. In January it teamed up with long-time distributor DKSH to increase its market penetration in Thailand and take advantage of increasing demand for western-style pastries.
As for Cosun, president and CEO Robert Smith said: “We decided to divest our fine bakery operations as these do not fit in our core strategic focus which is on the processing of arable crops.
“Based on the strong growth over the past 10 years and attractive growth prospects, Cosun is confident that Unifine is now ready to take the next step in its evolution as a part of a strategic world player.”
The bakery ingredients sector has been marked by consolidation in recent times, as companies move to strengthen their structures to reduce vulnerability to volatile commodity prices; for example, last May bakery improvers firm Sonneveld was acquired by Orkla Food Ingredients.
Companies that are active in high potential emerging markets like Central and Eastern Europe and Asia are tipped to be attractive targets, as they can offset stagnant growth in more mature Western European markets.