Alantra portfolio company Surexport strengthens berry leadership with three strategic acquistions
By Lynda Kiernan-Stone
The health and wellness trend so strong among consumers, combined with the desire for on-the-go natural snacks, has made the berry category one of the fastest-growing in the Western European fruit and vegetable market, and a focus for investment.
Consumer demand for fresh berries is strong due to the combination of their health benefits, appealing taste, versatility, and their alignment with current dietary and culinary trends. And as consumers increasingly seek both convenience and nutrition in their food choices, fresh berries continue to be a popular and highly sought-after option.
Between 2022-2027, Technavio forecasts that the global fresh berry market will maintain a CAGR of 5.69 percent and increase in value by US$10.2 billion while the degree of fragmentation in the industry decreases over that time period.
This potential is reflected in the sheer scale of the recent deal executed by a consortium led by Paine Schwartz Partners (PSP) including Driscoll’s Inc. and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, for the takeover of leading Australian fresh berry, citrus, avocado and vegetable grower, packer, and distributor Costa Group for A$1.5 billion (US$950 million).
However, let’s step back for a moment. It was back at the very beginning of 2021 that private equity investor Alantra announced it had acquired a majority stake in Surexport, Europe’s leading independent producer and distributor of fresh berries, through its Alantra Private Equity III fund that closed at EUR450 million (US$547 million) in 2018.
Founded in 1994 in Huelva, Spain, Surexport is a leading fully-integrated producer of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries with land in Spain, Morocco, Portugal, and Kenya and revenue for the 2022-2023 period of EUR 220 million from 1,600 hectares of cultivated acreage.
Surexport has worked to set itself apart from its rivals through its differentiated product portfolio including new and exclusive varieties offering the flavor, appearance, and longer shelf life demanded by retailers and consumers; best-in-class logistics and packing facilities including its fully-automated facility recently brought on-line in Huelva, Spain; and its long-standing commercial relationships with Europe’s food retailers.
However, Surexport is not stopping there. The company has just announced its successful completion of three highly strategic acquisitions: Portuguese raspberry producer Solana; Moroccan blueberry producer AG Group; and Spanish producer of organic berries Flor De Doñana.
These three deals, which were supported by Alantra Private Equity and co-investors Keyhaven Capital and Oquendo Capital, will act to further consolidate Surexport’s leadership position in what is a highly fragmented industry by broadening its production capabilities in core geographies, expanding its product offerings in a complementary way, and boosting its year-round availability of products to Europe’s retailers.
“Considering the three add-on acquisitions and other strategic projects currently underway in Peru, Mexico, and Eastern Europe, to serve the soaring demand in the berry sector, Surexport expects to surpass €300 million in revenues over the next three years,” stated Alantra.