It's only natural for the Kerry Group, one of the largest food companies in Europe, to keep adding to its mix. Offering some 15,000 products, Kerry's primary business is ingredients. These include breadings, seasonings, flavorings, fruit preparations, and dairy-based ingredients, all of which it sells to food processors and pharmaceutical manufacturers. The company is also a food processor itself, and offers processed meats (Mattessons, Richmond, Wall's), frozen entrees (Ballyfree, Denny), flour (Homepride), dairy products and juices (Dawn), and bottled water (Kelly Spring). Kerry Group has operations in Europe, North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, and customers in more than 140 countries.
Kerry continues to grow its business through acquisitions. In early 2011 it acquired UK frozen ready-meals maker Headland Foods. However, six months later the deal attracted the attention of the UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) after complaints from consumers about rising prices in the wake of the merger. According to the OFT, Kerry and Headland are the two largest suppliers of frozen ready meals to UK retail customers. The deal has been referred to the Competition Commission for an in-depth investigation.
Kerry announced the addition of the Germany's SuCrest in September 2011. SuCrest makes more than 500 types of ingredients for candies and sweets, such as caramel, creams, and pastes. It has two factories in Germany and Belarus and a sales office in Russia. Soon after, Kerry undertook a much larger acquisition; it purchased the global flavors business of agribusiness giant Cargill for $230 million. Cargill's flavors business, once part of its Food Ingredients and Applications division, spans 22 countries and generates approximately $200 million annually. Kerry garners production facilities in Europe, North America, and Asia.
In 2010 it acquired General Mills' Australian frozen bakery business, which includes the Croissant King and van den Bergh's frozen dough and pastry products sold to professional bakers. The deal included plants in Queensland and New South Wales. Previously, Kerry acquired the savory ingredients and flavors company Prima, located in Costa Rica, in 2009.
With a solid foothold in the ingredient sectors in Europe and North America, Kerry is focused on expanding into the growing markets of South America and Asia. In the Asian sphere, it took over Melbourne-based Cookie Dough Co. Not neglecting its European operations, it acquired Dera Holding, a savory flavoring company with manufacturing facilities in Belgium and the Czech Republic.
The company also has been busy boosting its foods operations. It added the UK's George Adams Pastry, which increased Kerry's private-label savory pastry business. In 2010 Kerry bought Irish cheesemaker Newmarket Co-operative Creameries for about €33 million ($42 million). (Newmarket had been a major supplier of cheese to Kerry Group's branded cheese business.) In North America, Kerry added the ready-to-eat cereal maker, California-headquartered Nutritional Food Products.
Some deals for Kerry have been more difficult to close. Announced in 2008, Kerry's $259 million proposed takeover of Breeo Foods was investigated by the EU's Competition Authority, which later that year blocked the merger on grounds of unfair competition in the rasher (bacon), cooked meat, and processed cheese sectors. The decision to block the takeover was subsequently nullified by the courts and Kerry proceeded with the takeover, which became final in 2009. The deal added the Shaws, Galtee, Roscrea, Calvita, Dairygold, and Mitchelstown brands to Kerry's food brands.
The farmer/members, through Kerry Co-operative Creameries, owns about 24% of the company. – less