Ongoing rumours that the Irish food and ingredients company Kerry Group had bought up a US fruit flavour operation were at last confirmed with the ambitious food ingredients business broadcasting that it has purchased US-based Da Vinci Gourmet and Crystals International.
Da Vinci Gourmet, a fast-growing manufacturer of gourmet-flavoured syrups based in Seattle and Crystals International, a manufacturer of natural fruit and vegetable flavours in Florida were brought into the Irish fold for the price of US$62m (€53m).
The acquisition of the privately owned Crystals International was made through Mastertaste, Kerry's global flavour division, based in Chicago and is seen as a good fit with the Sun Pure business bought earlier this year by Kerry.
Crystals has an estimated turnover of US$15 million for its freeze-dried products, produces over 400 flavour and colour ingredients and employs 85 people. The chief executive Jennifer Closshey and the chief operations engineer Charles Closshey are understood to be continuing with the company.
For the €3.4bn Irish ingredients company the Da Vinci purchase, a business that specialises in coffee syrups and employs 100 people, serves to consolidate its position in the gourmet coffee segment, going hand in hand with the Stearns and Lehman business acquired in 2002. Figures for the cash sale were not disclosed.
For Hugh Friel, the managing director of the Kerry group, the Crystals acquisition provides the company with the opportunity to build on, and clearly consolidate, its flavour position in the US.
"Combining Crystals International with Mastertaste's existing flavour technologies considerably strengthens the flavour division's position in beverage flavours and bases and in other all-natural sweet and savoury flavour applications," he said in a statement this week.
Last month Kerry shrugged off currency fluctuations and sluggish industry growth rates with interim results showing a rise in operating profits and growth across all leading brands.Against the background of a sharp fall in the dollar, the group reported a 4.1 per cent rise in operating profit (EBITA) for the first six months of 2003 to €133m with operating margin (before goodwill and exceptionals) up from 7.1 per cent to 7.4 per cent.
So who is next on the Kerry acquisition trail?