Swiss-based chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut Group said Wednesday it has signed an agreement to acquire Australian privately-owned chocolate producer GKC Foods (Australia) Pty Ltd, as the group sees growing opportunities in Australian and New Zealand chocolate confectionery markets.
The strategic acquisition establishes Barry Callebaut’s direct presence and manufacturing capacity in the growing Australian market, it said in a statement.
“The acquisition of GKC Foods empowers the group to expand its position in the industrial chocolate market and to leverage its value-adding gourmet and specialties business in Australia and New Zealand,” it added.
GKC Foods, which has been manufacturing “Made in Australia” chocolate and confectionery products since the 1980s, produces a wide range of products including organic and vegan chocolate. The company operates a chocolate factory and a warehouse in Melbourne.
Barry Callebaut’s investment involves upgrading and expanding the factory’s existing infrastructure; installing a new state-of-the-art chocolate production line, and the deployment of an integrated management system to enhance automated production.
In addition, the company will employ around 50 people at the site, including GKC Foods’ existing employees, who will transfer to Barry Callebaut upon completion of the transaction.
The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and other closing conditions. It is expected to be completed before the end of this year, according to the statement. The parties have agreed not to disclose any financial details of the transaction.
“We strongly believe in the growth opportunities of the Australian and New Zealand chocolate confectionery markets,” said Ben De Schryver, President of Barry Callebaut in Asia Pacific.
John Borell, Managing Director of GKC Foods, added: “Our agreement with Barry Callebaut will ensure the successful future of GKC Foods and our team as part of a large, international, group.”
Barry Callebaut is one of the largest chocolate and cocoa manufacturers in Asia Pacific. The company already operates 10 chocolate and cocoa factories in Asia, in markets such as China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.
In the last 12 months, the company has also expanded its sales operations in Indonesia and the Philippines. It recently announced the groundbreaking of a new chocolate factory in India, which is expected to be ready in late-2020. Barry Callebaut’s Asia Pacific Headquarters are in Singapore.