Australia’s Freedom Foods has entered a strategic partnership with a unit of e-commerce behemoth Alibaba for the supply of cereals and snacks in China.

The “exclusive” agreement covers the distribution of Freedom Foods’ branded Arnold’s Farm range by Theland New Cloud Digimart Co., a China-based brand owner with online and offline capabilities stretching across 25 provinces, and majority-owned by Alibaba. Theland’s portfolio includes meat, dairy, cereals, water and supplements.

Sydney-listed Freedom Foods also said it has started supplying A2 milk to Theland in UHT format, with additional products and formats planned for next year.  

Freedom Foods “strategic relationship with Alibaba provides for deeper customer-focused integration into online channels and for accelerated distribution into Alibaba’s offline ‘new retail’ strategy”, the New South Wales-based firm said in a statement.

Rory MacLeod, Freedom Foods’ managing director and chief executive, said the company has been selling its products into China for more than five years and has built dedicated online and offline sales, which have established initial capabilities for brands such as Arnold’s Farm.

He added that here is a trend among China consumers looking for healthy Western breakfasts and snacks.

“We have a good footprint here in China and it is strategic long-term partnerships like this with Theland that will help us continue our strong trajectory for driving our brands and products into China, supported by our unique supply sources and scaled manufacturing capabilities in Australia,” MacLeod added. “There remains significant growth opportunity into cereals and snacks categories in China.”

Under the terms of the new deal, Freedom Foods and Theland will establish a joint venture in China after a transitory period to develop and market Arnold’s products in China. The JV will own the Chinese language trademark for the brand and will be responsible for sales, marketing and distribution.