Both Swedish and Norwegian confectionery producers separately said they planned to expand their operations and merge with a Nordic player although falling short of naming one.

In Sweden, Cloetta Fazer managing director Lennart Bohlin said the sale of its trading business including brand names such as Heinz and Bassetts to Swiss Valora for SKr500m (US$47m) paved the way for acquistions in its core confectionery operations.

"The money will be spent on further expansion on the Nordic market," Lennart Bohlin said.

Cloetta Fazer is a publicly quoted company on the Stockholm Stock Exchange.
Meanwhile, at Norway's Orkla-controlled confectionery group Nidar, company offical Rune Helland was quoted as saying that Nidar planned on merging its operations with other Nordic players.

Although denying Cloetta Fazer was holding direct merger talks with Nidar, Mr Bohlin said he could not deny the two companies were communicating. He also welcomed the ambitions expressed by the Nidar official.

"It's good that Nidar too realises the need for furthur restructuring of the Nordic (confectionery) market. Naturally, we would be interested in a deal with Nidar, but big deals such as these are very problematic to carry out and at the end it is a question for the owners to decide," Bohlin was quoted as saying.

Danish group Toms Anton Berg has also figured in the merger speculations in recent months.

By Jerry Simonsson, just-food.com correspondent