Dutch food and nutrition group Royal Numico said today (Monday) that it had signed an agreement to buy Italian baby food company Mellin from Findim Group for 400m euros (US$529.87m)

"The acquisition of Mellin represents an important step forward for our Baby Food strategy in Western Europe," said Jan Bennink, CEO of Numico. "Mellin complements and significantly strengthens our existing operations in terms of product range, channel presence and market position.

"The resulting competitive number 2 position in the Italian baby food market provides Numico with the necessary platform and scale to drive growth in this underdeveloped and fragmented market," he said.

Mellin holds a 21% share of the Italian Baby Food market, with particularly strong positions in the weaning food categories and the fast growing grocery channel. Mellin has significantly outperformed the growth of the Italian Baby Food market in recent years, growing at a rate of 10%.