Ebro Foods has snapped up Spanish baby-food maker BIA, with the rice and pasta giant looking to tap into growing demand in select European markets for organic baby food.

The Jerez-based BIA entered bankruptcy protection in 2015 but Ebro sees an opportunity to meet demand in Spain and France.

At present, BIA sells its baby-food in Spain. An Ebro spokesperson said the new asset will be managed by Celnat, the France-based organic food group it acquired in 2016.

“In France, they have seen there is some space to compete against a premium brand called Babybio and against Hipp,” the spokesperson said.

Ebro plans to increase BIA’s production. “There is a high potential for growth,” the spokesperson insisted.

The spokesperson suggested BIA had applied for bankruptcy protection as the business had grown too quickly, not least in a period of economic turmoil in Spain. BIA was set up in 2011, the spokesperson noted.

The family-owned BIA entered bankruptcy protection three years ago, the company was then managed by another business but Ebro said the unnamed party did not want to buy the baby-food maker outright. An Ebro spokesperson said it is probable one of the members of the founding family will join the new owner.

The financial details of the deal were undisclosed and the spokesperson refused to be drawn on how much Ebro had paid for the business or on the new asset’s annual sales and profits.

Ebro’s acquisition of BIA is the company’s first substantive investment in baby food since its days as Ebro Puleva, when it also marketed dairy and infant-formula products. Ebro sold its dairy business to Lactalis in 2010 and became Ebro Foods, focusing on rice and pasta.