Oil & Vinegar

British group Abf acquires Acetum

Associated British Foods invests 300 million euro for the Italian balsamic vinegar company based in Modena. The opinion of the top management in our exclusive interview

Associated British Foods (Abf) – owner of Twinings tea brand among many others – has acquired Acetum, the Italian balsamic vinegar company based in Cavezzo (Modena) for 300 million euro (according to Barclays). Abf is based in London and in 2016 it generated a business of 13.4 billion pound (14.75 billion euro) with a net income of 900 million euro. We have reached agreement to acquire Acetum S.p.A.Abf explained in an official statementthe leading Italian producer of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (BVM), one of the best known vinegars in the world, which has been granted European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status due to its unique manufacturing tradition and provenance, as well as its high quality. Completion of the transaction is subject to antitrust clearance in Germany and Austria.

A leading brand

Acetum was founded by Cesare Mazzetti and Marco Bombarda, both of whom will remain in the business, and is based in the Province of Modena in Northern Italy, the region traditionally associated with balsamic vinegar. Its brands include Mazzetti, which is the leading brand in Germany and Australia, as well as Acetum and Fini. In the year ended 31 December 2016 the business generated net sales of 103 million euro. Abf declares they have ambitious plans to grow these brands. The acquisition will broaden our international presence in specialty foods.

Back part of an industrial group

I can not confirm the economic terms of the agreement – says Acetum President Cesare Mazzetti in an exclusive interview with Food but Abf proposal was satisfactory and the sale process to the British group has been, therefore, quite fast. It’s a real pleasure for us to be part of an industrial group again, after this financial time period which has been useful to optimize our organization after the external lines growth phase of recent years. However, this new relationship with a food company will be easier, given that producers speak the same language, even if the acquisition of a company with a PGI production is a first absolute for Abf group. They will have to learn how to deal with the typical problems of consortia.

90% of Acetum production is exported

At the end of 2016 Acetum had a consolidated net turnover of 103 million euros, 90% of which were produced overseas in around 60 countries including Iran. Balsamic vinegar of Modena – explains Mazzetticonfirms itself as a highly loved product abroad. The United States is the most important export market, with almost 40% of sales – a share that could still grow as “Italian sounding” products on the shelves are worth more than a half of Italian companies total sales. Growth rates are no longer those of the recent years, when balsamic vinegar sales were growing at two digits. Now we are around 2% growth and 700 million worth of consumption of our productions, but there are still many opportunities. That’s why Abf chose to enter this industry by recruiting the leading company, with five factories that also produce wine and apple vinegar, in addition to balsamic glaze.