$1.62-billion deal: Parmalat Group acquires Kraft Heinz natural cheese division

Kraft Heinz's Ingleside plant. ©2018 Google

INGLESIDE — Ingleside is set to join Winchester as a local Parmalat town, with the Kraft plant here among the assets changing hands as part of a $1.62-billion deal for Kraft Heinz Canada’s natural cheese division.

Parmalat Group today announced the impending acquisition that includes iconic cheese brands Cracker Barrel, P’tit Quebec and aMOOza!

“This deal will be good news for consumers, farmers, retailers, and the local community in Ingleside where nearly 400 local employees will be joining Parmalat Canada,” Parmalat’s public relations firm wrote in an email to Nation Valley News.

“Today’s announcement speaks volumes about our drive to support dairy farmers, help the local economy and continue to build on our family tradition of cheese making,” said Mark Taylor, Parmalat CEO and President, in the accompanying press release.

“We are excited to work closely with the community and our stakeholders to ensure we can grow sustainably and help Canada’s natural cheese business thrive. Parmalat’s brands in Canada date back as far as 1881 (Balderson). This deep-rooted heritage in Canada makes the proposed transaction a logical step for us as we seek to make an even more significant economic and social contribution in Canada.

Getting the Ingleside facility  “helps expand our operations in Eastern Canada” and positions Parmalat for “future growth,” says the purchasing corporation.

The South Stormont operation “fits well into our current network,” according to Parmalat, which plans to use the former Kraft plant to “improve efficiencies and grow the business. The brands being acquired have wide brand recognition and offer channels for business expansion.”

The company also lauds the deal for helping to “protect and grow job opportunities and support dairy farm incomes.”

Existing Parmalat factories in Winchester, Belleville and Victoriaville will remain open after the Kraft line has been purchased, raising the corporation’s cheese-plant fleet from three to four in Ontario and Quebec.  In all, Parmalat — listed on the Italian stock exchange and controlled by French-based Lactalis Group — operates 16 Canadian dairy processing facilities and employs 3,000 people in this country.

It says the Kraft transaction represents a “significant investment in Canadian dairy” and a “vote of confidence in Canada’s dairy industry that will provide important benefits to Canada.”

It also highlights the deal for allowing Parmalat “to utilize more of the milk ingredients we produce which will allow us to become more self-sufficient [and] reduce waste …”

The subject of Parmalat’s waste volume — and accompanying odour — curdled into a hot local election and community issue in nearby Winchester this summer, following a $15-million capacity expansion at that factory in 2017. Parmalat scrambled to bring technological improvements online while assuring the community an end to the problem was in sight.

The U.S.-based seller plans “to focus on the segments and categories where we have stronger brand equity, competitive advantage and greater growth prospects,” according to Bernardo Hees, Kraft Heinz Chief Executive Officer.

“We’re excited about what this transaction means for our future growth and business in Canada,” said Hees in a press release. “We also believe Parmalat is uniquely positioned to advance the natural cheese business given their experience and focus on the dairy industry.”


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