Texas-based Riviana Foods has announced that it has reached an agreement in principle to create a new joint venture in the UK rice market with Spanish food firm Ebro Puleva.

The joint venture will combine Riviana's UK subsidiary, Stevens & Brotherton (S&B) with Ebro Puleva's UK subsidiary, Joseph Heap & Sons, and will be owned 51% by Ebro Puleva and 49% by Riviana.

The transaction is expected to close by year-end. 

S&B markets and distributes branded and private label rice, dried fruit and other food products in the UK. Heap is a supplier of rice flour and bulk rice to industrial customers in the UK. The combined organisation will base its commercial marketing and sales activities for rice as well as dried fruit and other food products in Orpington. Rice milling and rice flour production will remain in Liverpool.