Belgian food group Ter Beke and France-based pasta maker Stefano Toselli are studying the creation of a venture in Central and Eastern Europe.

The two companies are looking into selling chilled lasagne and pasta meals in the region and could lead to the construction of a production plant. A final decision will be made by the spring.

If the venture goes ahead, it will be between YHS Holdings, the holding company behind Stefano Toselli, and FreshMeals, Ter Beke’s ready-meals division. Ter Beke will have a call option on its partner’s shares in the venture – and the shares of Stefano Toselli.

Ter Beke MD Marc Hofman said: “This joint venture means an accelerated implementation of our geographical strategy for two of our core products: chilled lasagne and pasta meals. For a decade we have been following the evolution in these emerging markets and we believe the time is now right to move forward.”

Doug Hamer, president of Stefano Toselli and YHS Holdings, said the company was an “important” player in the lasagne category in western Europe and wanted to expand further into the continent.

“We are convinced that the consumer developments in Central and Eastern Europe create the environment for the roll out of our price/quality concept into those markets,” Hamer said.