ITALY’s Ferrero will buy Eat Natural, a British maker of cereal bars, muesli and granola, to expand into healthier snacks, the companies said on Thursday(17).

As part of the deal, Ferrero will take over Eat Natural’s production facilities in Halstead, southeast England, and plans to retain the company’s management and employees.

Ferrero says it plans to maintain and further embed Eat Natural’s strong brand authenticity, while supporting the company with distribution and expansion to new markets and category segment opportunities.

“Eat Natural are an excellent strategic fit for the Ferrero Group as we continue to expand our overall footprint and product offerings into the healthier snacking market segment,” said Giovanni Ferrero, executive chairman of the Ferrero Group.

“Eat Natural are a family-orientated company who share a number of the same values as us, and like us care deeply for our consumers, the environment and the communities in which we operate. I very much look forward to welcoming them to the Ferrero Group.”

In 1996, fruit and nut importer Praveen Vijh joined with his friend and fellow engineering graduate Preet Grewal to create a healthier alternative for a confectionary-centric marketplace. Thus born Eat Natural.

The company now produces nearly 100 million bars a year at its ‘Makery’ in Halstead, Essex, and exports to 37 countries worldwide.

“We are very happy to be joining the Ferrero Group,” said Eat Natural co-founder, Praveen Vijh.

“Ferrero is a fabulous company and we are proud that they would like us to be part of their family. We have many shared ethics and both have a vision to make healthier snacking available for everyone. Like us, they pride themselves on a commitment to ingredients, taste and storytelling. We can’t wait to get started.”

Lapo Civiletti, CEO of the Ferrero Group, said, “We are bringing a much-loved, authentic product portfolio into our business, with a very strong market position in the healthier snacks segment. This will allow us to be present in this relevant market segment, fulfilling the evolving needs and trends of consumers. We very much look forward to working with the Eat Natural team as we build our journey of growth together.”

The deal is expected to close in the coming months, the companies said, without disclosing any financial details.

In October Ferrero agreed to buy Britain’s Fox’s Biscuits.

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