UK: Premier in talks with Mizkan over US deal

By Michelle Russell | 31 October 2012

Japanese condiment group Mizkan has confirmed to just-food it is in talks with Premier Foods plc over a potential manufacturing deal in the US.

Speaking following the firm's purchase of Premier's Branston pickle brand yesterday (30 October), Mizkan Euro-Americas president Craig Smith said the company is exploring joint manufacturing and distribution synergies with the UK food maker.

"We are one of the largest condiment players in the US, we have 15 plants across the country producing a wide variety of products," Smith told just-food. "We can do what Premier can do probably more efficiently here from a cost standpoint. We also have R&D and market knowledge that they don't have and to the extent that we can make it work for both of us, we are both interested in continuing those discussion."

Smith said the deal would include distribution "and/or manufacturing". He declined to comment further on the deal or which brands would be involved in the agreement. "We are under a confidentiality agreement," he added.

Premier chief executive Mike Clarke told the Daily Mail yesterday that he is focused on growing Premier after completing a series of disposals.

He told the publication Premier was in dialogue with Mizkan and Hain about "building a strong business in America" and potentially in other geographies. Clarke said the company was also in talks with a large retailer, which he did not name.

The UK food manufacturer announced the sale of its sweet pickles and table sauces to Mizkan yesterday for GBP92.5m. The deal includes Branston sweet pickle, ketchup, relish, salad cream and mayonnaise, as well as Premier's factory in Bury St Edmunds.

The sale is the second transaction between Premier and Mizkan in four months. In June, Premier sold its vinegar and sour pickles business, including the Sarson's and Haywards brands, to Mizkan for GBP41m (US$65.8m).

Sectors: Condiments, dressings & sauces

Companies: Mizkan, Premier Foods plc

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