SPAIN – Paulig, a Finnish family-owned food and drink company, is seeking to strengthen its position in the Tex-Mex and snacking markets in Europe through the acquisition of Spanish snack company Liven.  

Headquartered in Sant Cugat del Vallés, Liven produces corn, vegetable, cereal, and legume snacks, as well as gluten-free and organic products. 

It has production plants in the Barcelona towns of Puig-Reig and Berga and a distribution center in Ocaña (Toledo) and employs 290 people. 

The organic snack company generated a turnover of €63 million (US$70.91 million) in 2020. 

Paulig’s CEO, Rolf Ladau, said: “The acquisition of Liven is an important step in the execution of our growth strategy and ambition to become one of the fastest-growing and [most] profitable food and beverage companies in Europe, and a sustainable frontrunner in the industry”. 

Liven’s agile innovation and production capabilities strengthen Paulig’s position as the leading European Tex Mex company, and also complement our offering with new types of snacks”. 

Paulig is an international food company with a number of brands including Paulig, Santa Maria, Risenta, Gold&Green and Poco Loco brands. 

The company is present in 13 countries, it has more than 2,000 employees and made sales of 920 million euros in 2020. 

UK food deals rocket in 2021 

Meanwhile, the amount of UK food industry mergers and acquisitions (M&A) soared in 2021 to the highest level in more than ten years, according to financial advisory firm Oghma Partners.  

Compared to the previous year, the number of deals rose by 50.8% to 89 transactions, representing an estimated value of £6.6bn (US$7.43 billion).  

Core areas that attracted the attention of investors were the plant-based sector and, conversely, meat and seafood.

 Plant-based deals included Sonae acquiring Gosh Food and Saputo acquiring cheese alternative supplier Bute Island Foods before snapping up Wensleydale Dairy Products. 

In meat and seafood, Sofina acquired Eight Fifty Food Group, the owner of Karro Food Group and Young’s Seafood, for £1.2bn – the deal with the second-biggest price tag during the year.  

Pilgrim’s Pride also acquired the Kerry Group’s Consumer Foods Meat & Meals business for £704m, prior to subsidiary Pilgrim’s UK announcing the takeover of lamb processor Randall Parker Foods.  

The highest value transaction during the period was Bain Capital’s acquisition of European ambient foods business Valeo Foods for £1.5bn.  

Outside of those, there was significant interest in direct-to-consumer (D2C) businesses, as shown by Nestlé’s acquisition of Simply Cook, following its purchase of Mindful Chef at the end of 2020.  

Italian pasta giant Barilla also acquired a majority stake in D2C meal kit start-up Pasta Evangelists.  

According to the report, almost two-fifths of investors were overseas buyers, while a fifth were in the financial or private equity sectors. 

Mark Lynch, partner at Oghma Partners told Food Manufacture: “There may be some consolidation of demand from the consumer as we come out of COVID, however we think the long term trends for D2C businesses remain positive and expect to see continued M&A in the space.” 

Oghma Partners said it did not expect the pace of investment in this area to slacken in 2022.

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