US agribusiness giant Cargill has announced it has reached an agreement to purchase UK flavour company The Duckworth Group.

The two companies intend to complete the acquisition by the end of 2003.

The Duckworth Group is privately held and has manufacturing facilities in the UK, Africa, China and India - as well as a network of applications and sales offices across these regions and the Middle East. The company is currently the largest independent flavour company in the UK, and employs 170 people at its two sites in Manchester and Runcorn.

Although Cargill already produces flavour carriers, texturisers, emulsifiers, functional ingredients, sweeteners and other specialty ingredients, the acquisition will be Cargill's first flavour business in Europe.

"A core component of Cargill's strategy is to become a world leader in integrating ingredients that play a vital role in the consumer sensory experience with foods and beverages. We are focused on providing customers with solutions and The Duckworth Group provides the unique technologies and capabilities we seek," said Robert R. Parmelee, president of Cargill Food System Design.