Kavli, the Nordic food manufacturer, has struck a deal to acquire Verso Food, a supplier of vegetarian foods based in Finland.

Erik Volden, Kavli’s CEO, said the acquisition showed the company wanted to step up its business in the plant-based market.

“Acquiring Verso Food signals Kavli’s increased investment in this area,” Volden said. “A growing number of people want to eat less meat and more fruit and vegetables. You no longer have to be a vegetarian to be on the lookout for plant-based alternatives to meat. Many others also want to change their diets.”

Kavli, which counts cheese brand Primula and pâté supplier Castle MacLellan Foods among its assets, said it had entered into plant-based foods in 2013 when it snapped up another Finnish business, Planti, which markets oat- and soy-based products.

Verso, set up in 2010, supplies vegetarian foods based on fava beans. Volden added: “Verso Food also fits into our long-term strategy of investing more in plant-based categories, both from a consumer and sustainability perspective. This was also important in 2013, when we acquired Planti.”

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By GlobalData

Helsinki-based Verso employs 17 staff and generated a turnover of “just over” EUR6m (US$6.7m), Kavli said in a statement. Verso plans to open a new factory north of Helsinki in Kauhava this spring. It has already struck deals to sell into “several” other countries, Kavli said, without specifying all of the territories.

Volden said: “We will also invest in and develop Verso further, as we see a potential far beyond Finland. We expect to be launching several of the company’s products in Sweden during 2019.”

Leena Saarinen, chair of Verso’s board, explained why the company has decided to sell to Kavli. “A growth company needs an owner who is willing to invest in long-term growth. So we are very happy to have Kavli as our new owner, a company whose ownership form and strategy proves it is very focused on the longer term,” Saarinen said.

Kavli, owned by the Norway-based Kavli Trust, booked turnover of almost EUR350m in 2018.