Anglo-Dutch consumer-goods giant Unilever has teamed up with Italy-based food group Barilla with the intention of “strengthening the presence” of their ice cream and snacking products in the Italian market.

The agreement, effective from January, is aimed at pushing Barilla’s cookie products and Unilever’s Algida ice-cream business – the Cornetto maker – through the in-home and out-of-home channels.

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It will promote a ‘made in Italy’ proposition and see further expansion into own-brand products.

The agreement provides for the distribution of some of Parma-based Barilla’s snacks in single portions through Unilever’s out-of-home channels and is also likely to result in joint product development.

Francesco Del Porto, president of Barilla, which is best known for its pasta products, said: “We’re convinced the gelato market offers attractive prospects, and we know we have in-house brands and products that will definitely be of interest to Italian consumers.

“We are carefully considering this sector and have decided to work with a partner like Algida to support us on this journey of development. The intention is to maintain our commitments in terms of quality, the Italian spirit and the highest quality of raw materials, relying on the great know-how and the massive assets in logistics distribution at Algida.

“Our ambition is also to gain a greater lead in the out-of-home sector, to be made possible by the Unilever Group, its many years of experience and the unparalleled extent of its network.”

Del Porto also suggested the partnership could be extended into “other European countries”.

Fulvio Guarneri, president of Unilever in Italy, said: “Starting up this partnership with Barilla equates to continuing to innovate in as key a business as gelato, which our Algida brand has been leading for decades in Italy and around the world.

“It is a strategic alliance for Made in Italy that will also enable us to bring iconic brands closer and closer to consumers, reaching them with the same strength in both the in-home and out-of-home channels.”

In 2017, Unilever established a similar alliance with another Italian food business, Ferrero, to aid the confectionery firm in entering the frozen sweets sector.