Philippine food major buys New Zealand snack firm Griffin’s

Universal Robina Corporation says Griffin's snack brands - including ETA Salty Snacks - are at the forefront of global consumer snacking trends

Universal Robina Corporation (URC) has snapped up New Zealand snack giant Griffin’s Foods for NZ$700m ($606.6m) in a move it says should bolster its presence in the Asian snack sector.

Griffin’s - New Zealand's largest domestic snack player - manufacturers a host of brands including Eta Salty Snacks, Gingernuts, MallowPuffs and Nice & Natural snack bars.

Lance Gokongwei, president and chief executive of URC, said the buy would strengthen the firm’s position across Asia. URC’s Jack ‘n Jill snack brand was its top performer.

“While we have already built very strong brands, our strategy is to continue offering our existing consumers and markets in the ASEAN and Greater China regions with innovative, convenient, lifestyle-focused and on-the-go products,” he said.

Griffin’s portfolio contained exciting and premium brands that would appeal to Asia as the global snacking trend transformed the region’s snacks sector, Gokongwei said.

He said Griffin's was strong in, "Indulgence; a sense of play and excitement; using natural ingredients; ensuring traceability of source; and providing healthy alternatives.”

‘Exciting’ stage of growth

Established in 1864, Griffin’s injected over NZ$180m into company operations over the past eight years under Pacific Equity Partners (PEP) ownership.

Growth has been focused on strengthening domestic business in New Zealand and Australia, but also developing exports. Griffin’s snacks were already sold in more than 20 countries with exports pulling in one third of total company revenues.

The company’s executive chairman Ron Vela said the acquisition would fuel further exports.

“The Griffin’s board believes URC’s significant experience in developing its own export markets makes it the ideal partner to take Griffin’s forward as it embarks on this next exciting stage of growth,” he said.

URC has a stronghold in the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and China, he said.

The sale remained subject to Overseas Investment Office approval, but once finalized, Griffin’s COO Alison Taylor would become CEO. Vela will remain as a consultant to the senior team at URC.

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