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Raisio sees huge growth in healthy snacking

By Jane Byrne , 11-Feb-2010

The growth potential in the premium functional snack category on the heels of increased consumer and regulatory demand for healthy snacking is the driver behind Finnish company Raisio’s bid to acquire a UK cereal and fruit bar manufacturer.

The owner of the plant stanol cholesterol-lowering range, Benecol, said that it has offered investors in the Leeds-based Glisten €1.61 a share, claiming that it has already received support from shareholders which accounts for 49.2 per cent of the voting rights and that senior management are keen to accept the offer.

Glisten has had an uncertain period recently, reporting a drop in annual earnings after sales weakened. Besides cereal and fruit bars, the company also makes nuts under the premium priced Dormen's brand, which it bought in 2007 along with a 50 per cent stake in low-calorie confectionery maker Skinny Candy.

The company also supplies the Weight Watchers brand with low fat savoury snacks.

Chief executive officer, Matti Rihko said the acquisition of the UK company would enable Raisio get a stronger foothold in that market, which he added is the most developed and the most challenging in Europe in terms of the health and nutrition snack sector.

He told Nutraingredients.com this morning that Raisio also saw further acquisition opportunities in terms of healthy snacks makers in the Benelux countries, Germany and Eastern Europe.

Raisio results

Meanwhile Raisio published its annual results for 2009 today, with the company saying it would move into a growth phase in 2010 and 2011 that would result in a significant hike in sales but would mean the company will fall short of its EBIT targets.

"The target EBIT of 10 per cent for the brands division and 5 per cent for the B2B division will not yet be achieved in 2010," said the firm.

The ingredients supplier said it recorded a rise in underlying EBIT from €20.2m in 2008 to €20.5m in the last 12 months but underlying sales fell from €463.2m to €375.9m.

Rihko added that Raisio's main target in 2010 was to increase its net sales, and that this would be sought through organic growth in the domestic market as well as the previously mentioned acquisition policy.

Snacking for digestive health

A recent report from market analysts Frost & Sullivan claims that the bakery and cereals sector will dominate the digestive health ingredients market, fuelled by the ease of inclusion of prebiotics into ambient products.

And the researchers noted that a growing number of breakfast cereal manufacturers are using prebiotics as a way of promoting the 'feel good factor' to the consumer or as a way of adding extra fibre to biscuits and breakfast products.

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