Bega Now Big Cheese in Oz Food & Beverage Sector

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

Bega Cheese has officially become the largest listed Australian food company with the completion its historic $534 million acquisition of Lion Dairy & Drinks business from Japan’s Kirin Holdings.

Bega’s Executive Chairman Barry Irvin told investors in a short statement on Monday that it was a “significant day” in the history of the company.

The Lion deal – sealed in November – will double the size of Bega Cheese with annual sales revenue of $3 billion.

It brings together prominent brands including Vegemite, Dare, Farmers Union, Dairy Farmers, Yoplait, B honey, Big M, Masters, Juice Brothers and Berri, Bega Cheese.

“This goal of creating a great Australian food company with the capacity to service our customers inAustralia and around the world took a major step forward today,” Mr Irvin said in the statement.

Bega shares rose 0.2% to $5.36.

The takeover will increase Bega’s spread – both geographically and operationally across Australia.

Lion brings dairy plants in North Queensland and Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne and Morwell in Victoria, and Penrith and Wetherill Park in Sydney’s out west.

The deal will also see Bega take full control of Canberra’s Capitol Chilled Foods – and acquire 50% with Hong Kong partner Vitasoy International in the Vitasoy plant-based beverage facility in Wodonga on the NSW-Victorian border. (soy, almond and oat milks and associated products).

The Lion-owned juice brands – Berri, Daily Juice and Juice Brothers brands will become 100% owned along with their processing plants at Leeton in southern NSW and Smithfield in Sydney where freezable flavoured ice blocks are also made.

Before the acquisition, Bega owned five dairy factories on the NSW South Coast and in Victoria at Tatura, Strathmerton and Koroit, plus its Port Melbourne spreads and sauces plant.

The Peanut Company of Australia division, bought in 2017-18 to supply its peanut butter needs, has processing operations in southern Queensland at Kingaroy and Tolga on the Atherton Tableland in far north Queensland.

Bega bought Kraft Foods’ brands from Mondelez Australia for $460 million in 2017 which gave it control of Vegemite.


Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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