Mondelēz International has acquired Australian premium cracker manufacturer Gourmet Food Holdings. The global FMCG giant said it gives the company an entry into a whole new snacking market in the health and wellness space.

Gourmet Food Holdings co-founder and CEO Todd Wilson told Food & Drink Business it was a great result for the founders and shareholders.

“We’re very pleased and the business is going to be in good hands. Mondelēz is going to run Gourmet Food as an independent business, which is the correct decision at this time,” Wilson said.

The current COO Oliver Flint has been announced as the business’ new managing director, Wilson will stay on in an advisory role.

“Five years ago, we manufactured our first batch of premium-style crackers, and since then we’ve grown rapidly, becoming leaders across several categories and channels,” said Wilson. “We’re so excited to be joining Mondelēz International and their family of brands. They’re on a mission to lead the future of snacking and we can’t wait to join them.” 

Mondelēz International Australia, New Zealand and Japan president Darren O’Brien said Gourmet Food had become a category leader through an “innovative, agile and consumer centric approach”.

It's main brands are OB Finest, Olina’s Bakehouse and Crispbic.

O’Brien said the business complemented Mondelēz’s geographic scale and coverage. “It’s our ambition to build their portfolio of brands for more consumers in Australia and around the world,” he said.

The company started manufacturing gourmet crackers in 2015 with four staff, one production line and four products. Wilson said it grew quickly because the company “reinvigorated” the Australian deli cracker category. “We saw an opportunity, so we pounced,” he told Food & Drink Business in August 2019.  

By 2017-18, the company had grown to 80 SKUs and within three years it was the top ranked supplier in the Australian Grocery Deli Category of the Advantage Report, a 360-degree survey that sets the supplier performance benchmark across the retail sector.

By 2018, it had outgrown its facility and made the decision to seek external to step change its manufacturing capability and capacity. Champ Private Equity acquired the company as part of its Gourmet Food Group in 2018.

“Not growing was not an option. We love to grow, we thrive on growing and growing quickly.

“My experience in manufacturing is that space creates opportunity. Opportunity to be daring and creative with new product development. NPD and speed to market is in our DNA - it’s what we love and what we thrive on,” Wilson said.

In August 2019, the company opened a 12,500 square metre facility in Dandenong, Victoria, which positioned it as the manufacturer of the most diverse range of premium crackers in the southern hemisphere.

At capacity, the factory manufactures 250,000 crackers an hour, manufacturing six distinctive product types on eight production lines with 120 SKUs.

“We’re excited about the prospect of further investment to support growth, expansion and exports. Together with Gourmet Food’s deep local cracker knowledge, we will continue to grow and deliver the best snacking products for consumers here and overseas,” said O’Brien. 

Mondelēz will operate Gourmet Food as a separate business, fostering its innovative, agile and consumer centric approach, and will provide resources to accelerate Gourmet Food’s growth.

Included in the transaction is Gourmet Food’s prepackaged seafood business including the Ocean Blue brand.

With 2020 net revenues of approximately $27 billion, MDLZ is leading the future of snacking with iconic global and local brands such as OREO, belVita and LU biscuits; Cadbury Dairy Milk, Milka and Toblerone chocolate; Sour Patch Kids candy and Trident gum.

At the beginning of the year there was conjecture about Gourmet Food Holdings owner CPE Capital looking for a buyer. Mondelēz was in the mix along with KKR – owner of Arnott’s Group – and Pacific Equity Partners.

Arnott’s has been on its own acquisition path in the snacks and cereal space, having acquired the beleaguered Freedom Foods Group’s division for $20 million in December and Diver Foods in February.

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