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Glanbia builds US beverage expertise to ride whey protein wave

By Ben Bouckley , 26-Jul-2012

Glanbia has acquired US beverage manufacturer and co-packer Aseptic Solutions (ASI) for $60m, and told BeverageDaily.com the move would strengthen its hand in the growing whey protein segment.

Founded in 2004, California-based ASI employs 175 staff and manufactures and co-packs nutritional and dietary beverages including vitamin shots, protein shakes and 100% natural fruit juices.

It specializes in premium shelf-stable high acid beverages made using aseptic technology, and will be integrated into Glanbia Nutritionals’ Ingredient Technologies business unit in Wisconsin.

Nutritionals growth strategy

Glanbia said the ASI acquisition fitted its nutritionals growth strategy, and a spokeswoman told BeverageDaily.com that ASI would provide support to its strong whey protein business, which is primarily focused on B2B sales.

So why opt to buy ASI? “We had a pre-existing relationship with ASI [as a co-packer], the company had been in the business for 10 years and is very successful in its operating markets,” she said.

We asked one industry source, who wished to remain anonymous, whether he believed the move for ASI – which sells products via retail and multi-level channels – made business sense for Glanbia.

He told BeverageDaily.com: “Yes. In so far as they seem to be adding expertise they don’t currently have, I suspect the motivation was to bring this capability within Glanbia.

“They clearly have the capability to organise all the various ingredients, but not to pack, manufacture or co-package it in aseptic containers.

“So I would imagine that it’s the final piece of jigsaw of solutions – putting the ingredients technologies together with the technology of putting it in the bottle, which was plainly with this firm.

“Glanbia have said, ‘looking at our business on a forward basis – maybe producing more drink-based products and having the total capability to do so is a competitive advantage’, I would imagine.”

Full-blown beverage manufacturer?

So despite being relatively small, could this takeover mark a move towards Glanbia becoming a full-blown beverage manufacturer?

“I think yes, probably. If you look at Glanbia across the States, they have very strong brand positions in various proteins in powder forms,” the source told this publication.

“But where they have produced those protein formulations in liquid form, especially in aseptic liquid form, they’ve had to go outside and outsource it.

“We can only guess at the intention, but I imagine they’re saying, ‘if we can bring this capability back into the group then opportunities to do other things are increased’. I think that’s what this is about.”

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