Parmalat, the Italian dairy group, has hinted it would like to expand in Australia but refused to comment on reports linking it to a possible bid for the dairy business of Goodman Fielder.

A report in Italy had claimed that Parmalat was looking at an offer through its investment bank Mediobanca.

Goodman, the Australian food group, operates across a number of categories, including bakery, dairy and home ingredients.

In the company's fiscal 2008 year, Goodman's fresh dairy and meats division saw sales jump 19.4% to A$469.9m (US$314.4m) but soaring raw milk costs contributed to a 31.9% slump in EBIT to A$34.4m.

A Reuters report today (19 January) cited a source close to the issue as denying that Parmalat had any interest in bidding for Goodman's dairy business.

When contacted by just-food, a Parmalat spokesperson declined to comment directly on Goodman but said Australia was a "rather important" market for the company.

The spokesperson added that it was "true [Parmalat] is looking for consolidation" in Australia.

Officials at Goodman could not be reached for immediate comment.