Mondelez to enter crackers category in Australia

Mondelez to enter crackers category in Australia

Mondelez International has entered what it calls the "premium" biscuit and cracker segment in Australia and New Zealand with an agreement to acquire Gourmet Food Holdings.

The US-based snacking and confectionery major, owner of the Cadbury chocolate range and Oreo snacks, said the crackers deal is a "strategic" fit, with plans to accelerate Gourmet Food's growth, "leveraging its manufacturing, research and development capabilities".

Current owners, Sydney-based private-equity firm CPE Capital, formed Gourmet Food in 2018 - when the investor was known as Champ Private Equity - through the merger of MaxFoods and Fine Food Holdings. Media reports in Australia suggested in January the private-equity firm had put the company on the market, with Mondelez understood to be one of the interested parties, along with other private-equity businesses.

As well as crackers, Gourmet Food has a presence in seafood with salmon and ocean trout marketed under the Ocean Blue brand.

Asked by just-food if the seafood part of the business would eventually be sold, a spokesperson for Mondelez said "any long-term predictions about what products we may or may not sell would be speculation at this stage".

The snacking giant already markets its Oreo, Belvita, Captain's Table, Premium and Ritz snack brands in Australia, and the transaction for Gourmet Food will add the brands OB finest, Olina's Bakehouse and Crispbic sold in retailers in Australia and New Zealand to the portfolio.

Mondelez confirmed Gourmet Food also exports to the UK and the US, and "a number" of countries in Asia.

Meanwhile, Dirk Van de Put, chairman and CEO of Mondelez, said in a statement today (9 March): "This is a great strategic asset for us in a very important market. With our iconic biscuit brands such as Oreo and belVita, as well as our leadership in chocolate with Cadbury, this acquisition will accelerate our broader snacking leadership in Australia and New Zealand."

Financial terms were not disclosed, with the deal for Melbourne-based Gourmet Food expected to close in April to give Mondelez a seventh manufacturing facility in Australia. The company's chief operating officer Oliver Flint will become managing director, while current CEO Todd Wilson will remain with Gourmet Food as an advisor.

The Mondelez spokesperson continued: "We have a strong vision, predicated on growth, innovation and local manufacturing for Gourmet Food. The proposed transaction will enable us to invest in and unlock growth potential across the Gourmet Food portfolio, particularly in the premium cracker and health and wellness space."