Bonduelle said its acquisition of three processing plants and one repacking centre in the US would boost the volume of its frozen vegetable offerings in the country by around 150%.
The France-based company, which has its North American headquarters in Quebec, Canada, announced Friday it had purchased the raft of facilities from the US outfit Allens.
The deal marks a significant development in Bonduelle’s regional strategy as it seeks to claim a greater share of the lucrative US market, as well as realise exchange rate and transport cost savings.
Until now, the firm has been content to export produce from its Canadian base into the US.
The transaction, which the firm said could be sealed by the end of the month, would see its frozen vegetable output in the US leap by 150,000 tonnes per year, based on Allens’ volumes last year.
The Arkansas-based company said the sales split of this saw 44% of this going to the general public, 40% to foodservice and 16% to industrial sales.
Under the terms of the deal, the French company will buy four of the five Allens frozen vegetable processing sites - Bergen, Oakfield and Brockport (State of New York) and Fairwater (Wisconsin) with approximately 400 permanent employees.
This includes established brand names Chill Ripe and Garden Classic brands, as well as a license to use certain brand names retained by Allens for a transitional period of 18 months.
The US firm will continue to own and operate its Montezuma, Georgia facility following the transaction, which specializes in frozen breaded vegetable products and Southern-style frozen vegetables.
North American strategy shift
The announcement shows the company’s clear intent to step up its US operations.
Until now, Bonduelle North America has located its canned and frozen vegetables in Canada under distributors' own brands and under its own labels with over 335,000 tonnes of vegetables grown in Quebec and Ontario.
It previous allocated around 30% of its production - around 100,000 tonnes - for export to the United States, mainly as frozen produce via the foodservice networks. This acquisition will not only allow it to reinforce the growth of its US sales but will also enhance its ability to balance exchange rate and climate-related risks, said the company in a statement.
The Bonduelle Group, with its global in Northern France, produces a range of processed vegetables at 42 production sites in Western Europe, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Canada and Brazil. It calims annual sales of €1.7bn (US$2.2bn) and employs 7,250 permanent employees worldwide.