Kerry Group buys US ‘clean label’ firms for €325m

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Kerry Group plans to buy two food seasoning firms in the US for €325m that it says will enhance its group of natural ingredient firms.

The firm said it was to buy savoury seasoning firm Ariake USA, the American business of Ariake Japan, as well as the American coatings and seasonings business of Southeastern Mills.

Ariake’s “highly specialised extraction technologies” for seasoning stocks and broths derived from poultry, pork and vegetables would enhance its so-called clean label offerings, it said.

Clean label refers to natural ingredients and minimally processed foods which replaces flavours, colouring, preservatives and sweeteners with healthier alternatives where possible.

The Georgia-based Southeastern Mills business, which manufactures coatings and seasonings, would enhance its offering in meat seasoning, Kerry said.

Southeastern Mills manufactures coatings, food bases and gravy, baking and seasoning mixes and serves processors, restaurants and food-service distributors.

Kerry said it will finance both acquisitions from existing lines of credit. It brings the firm’s spend this year on mergers and acquisitions to over €800m.

Broker Davy reiterates its ‘outperform’ rating on Kerry shares following the announcement.

The report from the broker last month on clean label challenges for firms said that Kerry has replaced the common food flavouring disodium inosinate with chicken fat, stock, and spices.

Its shares fell almost 1% and have now shed 4% this year, valuing the firm at €15.8bn.

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