Spain-based dried fruit, nuts and seeds business Importaco has taken a 51% stake in Italian peer Besana, it has announced.

Valencia-based Importaco suggested the deal creates the “European leader in nuts, dried fruit and seeds for sourcing, industrial and commercial capability”.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Importaco, which also makes beverages, sells its products to major retailers on a private label basis. It has a long-standing relationship with Spanish supermarket group Mercadona.

It also operates in the agro-food industry ingredients market and in the foodservice market, especially the hotel and catering industry.

Milan-based Besana also processes nuts, dried fruit and seeds – as well as chocolate and snacks – with 75% of its products going into the private label channel.

It also has a large operation in the UK where it supplies grocery majors including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

In 2019 Importaco reported sales of EUR584m (US$674.1m) while Besana notched up EUR185m.

Following the integration, the group will have cumulative sales of EUR770m, 1,950 employees, factories in five countries and more than 600 suppliers.

Importaco said the deal would “strengthen its specialisation in natural food products while consolidating its international presence”.

Toño Pons will be the chairman of the new group following the integration while the Besana-Calcagni family will be part of leadership team, with Riccardo Calcagni becoming CEO.

Pons said: “Through this transaction, we are consolidating our sustainable growth project based on quality and innovation, and leveraging our internationalisation and specialisation in natural products and healthy foodstuffs.

“We are creating a strong group with a solid competitive position, both in Spain and in other European markets, with a high growth potential.”

Pino Calcagni, president of Besana, said: “In the current scenario, the globalisation of new markets and the development of synergies to improve economies of scale are becoming key commercial factors, the Importaco Group is the ideal strategic partner to achieve these objectives and create value throughout the supply chain.”