Kraft Heinz buys Cerebos Greggs factory

The Cerebos Greggs factory in Dunedin has been bought by the Kraft Heinz Company. Photo: Gregor...
The Cerebos Greggs factory in Dunedin has been bought by the Kraft Heinz Company. Photo: Gregor Richardson
The Cerebos Greggs food and instant coffee factory in Dunedin has been sold, as part of a wider $A290 million ($NZ319.1 million) acquisition of New Zealand, Australian and Asian assets by food giant The Kraft Heinz Company.

With hundreds of Cadbury staff facing redundancy in coming months, the existing jobs at the Cerebos Greggs Dunedin factory appear to be safe.

In late April, Japanese corporate Suntory Group put up for sale its combined food and instant coffee divisions across Australia and New Zealand, but it is retaining the fresh coffee divisions.

Confirmation of the sale by Suntory yesterday followed a relatively recent $20million refurbishment of the Cerebos Gregg’s Dunedin plant.

About 800 staff work in the combined New Zealand and Australian operations.

Cerebos management in Dunedin were unavailable for an interview, but a Kraft Heinz spokesman in Australia responded to questions.

"We do not anticipate closure of any factories as most of the Cerebos brand categories are incremental to our category portfolio," the spokesman said.

Another source close to the sale believed there were no plans for Kraft to restructure any factories. It would instead focus on further investment.In another statement Kraft Heinz Australia and New Zealand chief executive Bruno Lino  said the acquisition would reinforce Kraft’s commitment to and long-term plan for the New Zealand and Australian markets, in addition to its "significant investment" in the Kraft brand during 2018.

"The transaction provides an exciting opportunity for Kraft Heinz to expand its portfolio into complementary categories, stretching the footprint of Cerebos’ brands into new categories and markets," Mr Lino said.

In addition to what he described as "iconic local brands", Mr Lino said Cerebos had a strong team which would play an important role in growth.

Cerebos Australia New Zealand chief executive Terry Svenson  said in a joint statement the food and instant coffee divisions were not a core focus for Suntory and he believed this business could be "maximised" under Kraft Heinz ownership.

"The Food and Instant Coffee business will now have opportunities to leverage Kraft Heinz’s operations to grow the business further," he said in a statement.

The sale was subject to regulatory approvals, but was expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2018.

Suntory said it would be retaining the fresh coffee division, to form part of a new business unit focused on capturing a larger market share of the rapidly growing global fresh coffee market.

Cerebos’ Food and Instant Coffee business includes brands in New Zealand and Australia such as Fountain, Gravox, Saxa, Foster Clark’s, Gregg’s, Bisto, Raro and Asian Home Gourmet. It has brands across several other food categories including sauces, gravies, herbs and spices, salt, condiments, Asian sauces, desserts and cooking ingredients.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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