Alpro goes to Texas
Ghent-based Vandemoortele, Belgium's largest privately-owned food company, has agreed to sell soy-products subsidiary Alpro to Dean Foods of Dallas, Texas. The sale price was reported at €325 million.
Sale of pioneering soy subsidiary will allow growth in other areas
Alpro, which makes soy-based foods and drinks, made €260 million in sales last year. The company, which pioneered the use of soy derivatives 25 years ago, employs 650 people and has production facilities in the UK, France and the Netherlands, as well as Belgium. As well as Alpro branded milks, spreads and desserts, the company also produces the Provamel line of bio soy products.
Until now, Dean has been largely limited to the US and Canada. The sale will extend the company's global reach, CEO Gregg Engles said. Alpro products are not sold in the US, where Dean's Silk line is the leading soy drinks brand.
"Earlier this year we decided to change our strategy and concentrate on our Frozen Bakery and margarine and fats activities, which together account for 80% of our group turnover, and which are aimed at professional and industrial clients," said group chairman Jean Vandemoortele. "Alpro is mainly a consumer product. It would have been difficult for us to continue supporting both growth activities. The sale offers the best chance of future growth." Vandemoortele expects turnover this year of €1.1 billion.
Bernard Deryckere will continue to be CEO of Alpro. "I am very optimistic about the future," he said in a statement. Alpro will operate as a separate division, while Vandemoortele will continue to market the brand in Belgium and Luxemburg; its margarines and fats division holds some rights to Alpro lines.
Dean Foods was one of three contenders to take over Alpro, as well as multinational Unilever and the Finnish Raisio. The income from the sale will, Vandemoortele said, provide the necessary means for the two other divisions to go forward. It will also replenish the company's depleted coffers: last year's acquisition for €300 million of the French producer of deep-frozen baked goods, Panavi, left Vandemoortele with a pile of debt.