Mitsui Co., the Japanese food-to-chemicals conglomerate, has snapped up a stake in Italy-based rice and pulses supplier Euricom.

In a statement issued today (13 June), Mitsui said it would pay around Y200bn ($143.3m) for its “partial shareholding” in the company.

A separate statement from Euricom said Mitsui would be a “minority shareholder”. The deal gives Euricom an enterprise value of €500m ($540.4m), the company added.

In April last year, the two businesses announced a “strategic partnership” through which they set out to work in areas including sourcing and new product development.

As part of that deal, Mitsui acquired a minority stake in Euricom’s Polish rice subsidiary Przedsiębiorstwo Rol-Ryż.

Mitsui’s move to invest in Euricom itself will swap its stake in Rol-Ryż for new shares in the Italian group.

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By GlobalData

The new deal with Mitsui is the first time Euricom’s two founding families – the Nervis and Sempios – have accepted outside investment in the company.

Bruno Sempio, Euricom’s chairman, “will continue to control Euricom and lead its management team on a sole control basis”, the rice group added.

Mr. Sempio added: “After developing a trusted relationship with Mitsui over the last years, we are pleased to formally welcome Mitsui in Euricom’s shareholding. Mitsui has proven to be a reliable long-term partner helping family-owned companies, like ours, build a more institutionalised and global platform for growth while respecting the existing day-to day management and entrepreneurship of the company. This is exactly the type of support that we need in this critical juncture of the group’s development to take Euricom to the next level of growth and global reach.”

Euricom sells rice into Europe’s retail and foodservice markets. It also supplies B2B customers. In 2022, the company generated a turnover of €800m and an after-tax profit of “about €40m”. It sources rice from southern Europe, South America, India and south-east Asia.

In its statement, Mitsui suggested growing demand for rice products, particularly in Europe, lay behind its investment in Euricom.

“Against the backdrop of dietary diversification and a growing focus on health and the environment, the markets for rice products and pulses are growing across the globe. In Europe, surging immigration is also contributing to significant demand growth,” the company said.

Mitsui said its investment in Mauritius-based pulses supplier ETG could benefit Euricom.

“By leveraging ETG’s raw material procurement networks in Africa and North America with Euricom’s extensive sales channels and close relationships with major European retailers, Euricom can step up the development of new rice products and strengthen their business operations in areas other than rice products, such as pulses,” Mitsui added.

Just Food has approached Euricom and Mitsui for further comment.