Kerry’s food preservation play

Cantillon: Irish food giant champions new technologies with €853m acquisition

Kerry has announced its €853 million purchase of preservatives maker Hare Topco, which trades as Niacet. Photograph: Kerry

Kerry has announced its €853 million purchase of preservatives maker Hare Topco, which trades as Niacet. Photograph: Kerry

 

Meat production has a large environmental impact, producing greenhouse gas emissions. The land used for meat production is increasingly encroaching on wild habitats, opening doors for pathogens to jump to domesticated animals and humans. Think of swine flu and avian flu. We don’t yet know how or where Covid-19 originated.

And there is growing consumer anxiety around food safety – about 700 million people get sick every year from eating unsafe food products – which have heightened since the emergence of Covid-19.

Making fresh meat last longer would arrest – to a point – some of these issues and could reduce the mountain of food waste being produced each year. It is increasingly being looked at by the food industry as a way of decreasing its carbon footprint and becoming more sustainable.

This is the backdrop to Kerry’s €853 million purchase of preservatives maker Hare Topco, which trades as Niacet. While food preservation is already a focus for Kerry, the Niacet deal, announced yesterday, significantly increases its presence in the fast-growing sector.

The Irish company said the deal comes at a time of growing demand for longer-lasting food as consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of waste.

It said Niacet had “clear leadership positions” in bakery and pharma, and cost-effective low-sodium preservation systems for meat and plant-based food. Niacet’s complementary capabilities would enhance Kerry’s existing food protection and preservation strategy to offer new products and technologies in a broader market, it said.

Kerry’s calling card is to acquire businesses with cutting edge food technologies that can be applied to a wider range of products. Last year it bought Canadian probiotics company Bio-K Plus International and is in the process of working Bio-K’s suite of biotics into a new line of functional foods. The Niacet deal is the latest play by the Irish food group in this space, while also exiting legacy businesses, with the sale of its consumer foods’ meats and meals business in the UK and Ireland announced late last week.

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