The maker of Oreo cookies and Cadbury chocolates, which still operates under Zurich-based Kraft Foods Europe GmbH in Europe, is buying Italy’s Vitasnella snack business from France’s Danone for an undisclosed price as part of its consolidation plans in Europe.
It says it will retain Italian production of low-fat Vitasnella biscuits, snacks and bread derivatives. Danone, which sold its global biscuit business to Kraft in 2007 but kept Vitasnella, was making the snacks under license with Kraft before deciding to sell the business. Danone will keep the Vitasnella brand for yogurt and cheese.
"The deal fits well into the spinoff of Kraft Foods Group in North America announced recently and the arrival of a new international company Mondelez International…but it is also a confirmation of the interest of the group in investing in our country for future growth," Valerio Di Natale, head of Kraft Foods in Italy and southern Europe, says in a statement. Keeping production in Italy comes as the country grapples with a deep recession, forcing many industrial groups there to lay off workers or close plants.
The snack market is growing faster than many other consumer segments, as people with a busy lifestyle snap up low-value food to eat on the go. Vitasnella is a brand known in fashion-hungry Italy for low-fat products, which help keep weight under control. Mondelez, which also owns LU biscuits, derives more than one-third of its annual $36 billion revenues from Europe, one of the largest snack markets along with North America.
The group employs about 100,000 people in more than 80 countries, of which 1,500 are in Italy. Mondelez inherited four Kraft plants in Italy, including one in Capriata d'Orba, which makes the Vitasnella products.