Spanish food group Ebro Foods has acquired a stake in Italian rice producer Riso Scotti.

Ebro, which last year told just-food it would look to make further acquisitions and expand its geographic reach, purchased the Scotti Group-owned firm for EUR18m (US$24m), it revealed today (18 February).

Scotti specialises in the production and processing of rice, in particular risotto rice, for sale in seventy countries. Products include rice and soybean milk, rice biscuits, rice oils and ready meals for the premium market.

“With this joint venture, Ebro aims to consolidate its worldwide leadership of the rice sector through the international development of new references and specialities, especially related with the Italian concept of risotto and a commitment to high value-added products sold through gourmet shops,” the company said.

The deal is expected to close no later than 31 May.

Speaking to just-food last year, CEO Antonio Hernandez Callejas said Ebro has room to grow in geographies beyond its two biggest markets of Europe and North America. The chief executive said this may be done through acquisitions and said the company was eyeing a number of South American companies, and revealed it had an interest in entering Brazil and Mexico in particular.