US food producer Heinz has bought three state-owned companies to boost its operations on the Chinese mainland.

Guangzhou Meiweiyuan Foodstuffs Co, Guangzhou Meiweiyuan Foodstuffs Factory and Panyu Jinmai Foodstuffs Factory have all been acquired from the Guangzhou government's Panyu Food and Grain Bureau for an undisclosed sum.

The deals give Heinz a foothold in the growing market for sauces and condiments in China.

John Crawshaw, area president of Heinz Asia, is reported in the Chinese press saying: "Through our market research, we found the (sauces) industry a promising but also a highly competitive one. By forming the joint venture with Meiweiyuan, we can have a greater China presence."

Heinz Greater China hopes the tie-up will enable it to double the sales it achieved last year, which amounted to US$50m. Annual sales for Meiweiyuan are about US$20m, according to the South China Morning Post.