UK food manufacturer Premier Foods has announced that it has completed the acquisition of Cauldron Foods, a manufacturer of branded, chilled meat free products, from Rayner & Co (Investments) Limited for £27.0m (US$47.8m).

Cauldron is one of the leading brands in the chilled meat free and organic food category and was one of the first manufacturers of tofu in the UK. Cauldron's products include meal-centres (sausages, burgers, grills and bakes); snacks (pâtés and ethnic snacks such as falafel); and tofu (as a base ingredient).

Approximately 92% of sales are under the Cauldron brand with the remainder own label. In the year to 31 December 2004, Cauldron's sales were £14.7m and normalised EBITDA for 2004 was £2.7m. The gross assets of Cauldron Foods at 31 December 2004 were £9.6m and profit before tax for the year to 31 December 2004 was £1.3m.

Premier said the Cauldron brand would sit alongside and be highly complementary to its existing vegetarian food brand, Quorn.

"Under Premier's ownership, Cauldron will benefit from greater investment and access to Premier's infrastructure," the company said.

Cauldron operates from a manufacturing site at Portishead, near Bristol, which employs approximately 215 people.

"Cauldron's strong position in tofu and vegetable based products will further enhance our position in the high-growth healthy eating market and will be highly complementary to our Quorn brand," said Robert Schofield, chief executive of Premier Foods.

"Cauldron fulfils all our acquisition criteria. It enhances our branded mix, it is UK focused and meets all our financial hurdles," he added.