Importaco has acquired a 51% stake in Besana, which is the UK's third largest business-to-business (B2B) nut and dried fruit company by turnover. The deal reinforces Besana's international presence and specialisation in natural food products such as hazelnuts, cashew nuts, almonds, peanuts and seeds. Internationally, Besana supplies products for retail own-label, branded and foodservice lines as well as for further manufacturing and offers retail and bulk industrial packaging solutions.
A spokesman for Besana told Food Manufacture: "There are plans for increasing investment in the Ipswich factory. The factory will continue to employ more than 60 people locally with scope for this to grow as production increases. The merger will be fully completed in the next couple of years.
"During this process Importaco and Besana will strengthen their business presence in key markets (this includes the UK). In terms of technology, the factory has pasteurisation, sorting and mixing lines.
480 UK product lines
"Besana’s first factory operations in the UK were in the Cotswolds during the early 1990s. Besana has been based in Ipswich since early 2014 and this factory is its main distribution centre in the UK. 10.1 tonnes of product are packed and distributed there annually for the UK market. Its end-user customers are B2B businesses. Currently 480 product lines are distributed in the UK market."
Importaco said it also aimed to use the move to build trade in the UK, as well as its target international markets Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland and Scandinavia. UK revenue for the 2019-2020 financial year equated to £86.3m.
The merger makes the Importaco group one of the European market's key players, on the same footing as the major brands given its size, geographical coverage and growth potential.
Top line stats on the new group post-merger
- €770m turnover
- 1,950 employees
- 17 factories in five countries (Spain, Poland, Italy, Turkey and the UK)
- Purchase volume of 123,000 tonnes
- 600 suppliers
The new group would continue to have a significant focus on research and development (R&D), investing more than €2m a year in the area, according to Importaco. Current research projects concentrated on food safety and healthy eating, it said.
Specific projects include using neuroscience to understand consumer perception of nuts; developing analysis techniques for allergen control; creating recyclable packaging and implementing controls for emerging risks such as viruses. The group is also working on reducing the use of additives for clean label purposes and improving the nutritional profile of products through salt reduction by modifying nut texture.
The Besana-Calcagni family is part of the group leadership team following the integration. Riccardo Calcagni has been confirmed as chief executive officer and Pino Calcagni as honorary president of Besana.
Natural products and healthy foodstuffs
"Through this transaction, we are consolidating our sustainable growth project based on quality and innovation, and leveraging our internationalisation and specialisation in natural products and healthy foodstuffs," said Toño Pons, president of Importaco. "We are creating a strong group with a solid competitive position, both in Spain and in other European markets, with a high growth potential."
Pino Calcagni, president of Besana, said: "In the current scenario, the globalisation of new markets and the development of synergies to improve economies of scale are becoming key commercial factors. The Importaco Group is the ideal strategic partner to achieve these objectives and create value throughout the supply chain."