The Braes Group, created just a year ago by a group of senior food industry executives specifically to become a world leader in natural food ingredients, has completed its fourth acquisition.

In a deal backed by 3i, it has bought the combined businesses of Obipektin AG and Spreda AG, a Swiss-based leader in the supply of speciality food ingredients, for £16m.

It is the Braes Group’s first acquisition in mainland Europe following its buy out of the Anglo-US feed ingredients businesses formerly owned by Hays plc in October last year, and its subsequent purchases of Lovesgrove Research and Britannia Natural Products. Both these deals were supported by an earlier £12m capital injection from 3i.

This latest buy is a further step towards the Braes Group stated aim of building a £300m global business in natural human and animal food ingredients. The Group is still actively seeking other acquisition opportunities.

Obipektin and Spreda produce and supply high end pectins and fruit and vegetable powders for the food and pharmaceutical industries. The purchase complements the businesses already acquired by the Braes Group, where the overall strategy is to leverage the opportunities presented by the increasing focus on health and nutrition within both the animal and human food sectors.

Nigel Garrow, CEO of the Braes Group, said of the latest deal: “This is an ideal acquisition for the Braes Group, given the company’s excellent technical reputation in the markets it serves. We are keen to use the skills and experience within Obipektin and Spreda together with the Braes teams to open up new product opportunities and new markets building on the successes already achieved.”

Confirming both existing and future support for the growth of the Braes Group, Paul Cannings of 3i added: “Natural and functional ingredients are growth areas in the food sector and there are many businesses with a range of products which would fare better as part of a larger group. We anticipate strengthening our support for the Braes Group as it gathers the critical mass necessary for it to become a world leader in its sector.”

By Stephen Blake, editor, Food Industry News