The company yesterday signed an agreement to acquire all the shares of the Nutkoa chocolate spread factory in Italy, only a month after Belgium-based chocolate factory All Crump. The move marks the latest consolidation in Europe's food market, with companies seeking greater cost efficiency through bigger economies of scale. Larger companies theoretically can also compete better with the giants in the industry, such as Nestle. "With these two acquisitions, Natra has formed a business unit projected to invoice more than 100 million euros in 2008, with a volume superior to 50,000 tonnes a year, or 15 per cent of the European market share," the company said. The company also now claims to be the second largest chocolate spread manufacturer in the world in terms of market share, coming after Ferraro, makers of the universally popular Nutella. Natra will acquire Nutkao, established in Italy in 1982, in the next four months for €48m, the company said. The Italy-based firm will help Natra in its attempts to move into the private label brand (PLB) market. Nutkao supplies such PLB products to 27 countries around the world, with strong sales in chocolate spread loving countries such as France, Italy and Switzerland. "Nutkao has a production of 24,000 tonnes a year and up to now it was positioned as the fourth European company in terms of production volume," Natra said. In October, the company also acquired Belgium-based All Crump for €45m, taking on board its private label products as well as the brands Palinutta, Patillia and Crumpy. "All Crump projects to close the business year with sales of €50m, whereas Nutkao projects sales in excess of €45m for the same period," Natra said. For the tax year 2006, Nutkao posted net sales of €35m and sales of All Crump products totalled €48m. Natra produces 45,000 tonnes of cocoa and chocolate products each year, and recorded profits of €380m in 2007. Every year the company sells nearly 500m chocolate products in Europe; 400m flavoured chocolate products, 80m chocolate bars and 18m boxes of chocolates.