IRELAND – Irish food group, Valeo Foods is in exclusive talks with Campbell Soup to buy the company’s Kettle Foods business in UK and Ireland for about US$60million (€54 million).

Earlier this year, Campbell hired Barclays to sell the global operations of Kettle after pressure from an activist shareholder, which pushed for the disposal of non-core assets to cut debt and reduce costs.

However, the Seamus Fitzpatrick backed Irish food group buyout talks are believed to exclude Kettle’s operations outside of the UK and Ireland.

In addition to its flagship posh crisps, Kettle Foods also owns Metcalfe’s Skinny Popcorn and Yellow Chips.

Campbell has only owned Kettle Foods since 2018, when it acquired Snyder’s-Lance, the brand’s parent – which had previously acquired Kettle from Diamond Foods, another US-based group.

With the new deal, the Rowse Honey and Barratt confectionery brands owner will have clocked more than a dozen the number of acquisitions its has made since it was founded with backing from Mr Fitzpatrick’s Capvest in 2010.

The spin of takeovers underlines Valeo’s ambitions of searching for products with significant growth potential in a fast-changing environment dominated by consumers’ growing desire for healthier products.

Valeo’s prospective deal for Kettle UK may spark a new phase in the Irish company’s strategy of consolidation in the Irish, UK and European ambient foods space.

It also signals Valeo’s intention to open up a new platform for the group, in the snacks sector. sources said that if completed, the Kettle business would form the basis of a new snacking division at Valeo, reports SkyNews.

Among the major deals closed by Valeo in recent years include last year’s €110 million acquisition of confectionery group Tagarine, whose brands include sweetshop favourites such as Fruit Salads and Refreshers.

It also bought Dolciaria Val d’Enza, an Italian confectioner, and Rasio, a confectioner whose products include the XXX mint brand, for a combined €115 million cash.

The Irish-based company, which had a turnover last year of ‎ €870m, has four principal divisions: Ireland, the UK, Europe and confectionery.

Rival upmarket crisp brands Tyrrell’s and Piper have recently been bought out by Instersnack and Pepsico respectively.