The acquisition includes the transfer to Somerdale of AFF’s blended cheese processing assets, brands and associated trademarks. In doing so, Somerdale said it will reinforce its position as a leading supplier of blended cheese to more than 30 countries globally.
The acquisition will enable Somerdale to grow and develop its portfolio of blended cheeses developed specifically for the international marketplace. The deal will see Somerdale acquire the full rights to brands including Tintern and Harlech, which AFF previously produced in partnership with Somerdale. In doing so, it will allow Somerdale to give greater focus to these brands, with plans already in the pipeline to grow sales through new product development, packaging and marketing.
As a result of the acquisition, Somerdale will transfer the production of blended cheese to its other cheese making partners. These include Joseph Heler, the cheesemaker based in Cheshire, which already produce much of the cheese that features in Somerdale’s best-selling Westminster and Coopers Hill brands.
The news of the acquisition comes when Somerdale’s range of classic and contemporary blended cheeses are in strong growth with branded sales up 10.4% year on year.
Alan Jenkins, Director of Somerdale International said, “We are delighted to have acquired the assets of AFF’s blended cheese business. In particular, it will strengthen our position as the leading exporter of British blended cheeses and, working closely with our award-winning cheese makers, it will enable us to give greater focus to the development of brands such as Red Dragon which is already one of our largest selling brands in the US market.
“Across both established international markets such as North America and Australia, and new emerging markets such as China sales of our branded blended cheeses are growing strongly. Key to this is our ability to offer innovative and great tasting flavour combinations; create tailored and seasonal blended cheeses that can provide real excitement and a point of difference to a cheese fixture; and respond to the growing consumer-demand for demonstrable quality, provenance and the evermore important use of clean ingredients and labeling. Our acquisition of the AFF blended cheese business will reinforce both our capacity and capabilities in this fast growing and dynamic part of the market.”
In December, AFF announced it was ending its production of flavored, blended cheeses, to focus on expanding and developing its exports and value-added lines.
AFF said it has been experiencing growth in this area over the last five years in keeping with market trends, and has made investments to support growing demand for products such as halloumi fries, mozzarella sticks and jalapeño poppers.
The business secured a seven-figure finance package from HSBC UK in 2020 to invest in its lines of chilled and frozen dairy and plant-based appetizer and snacking items and vegan ranges, and to reach £50m ($67.5m) sales within the next three years.
The company will also continue to produce its goat’s cheese, its first product in 1981.