Zentis Buys Sweet Ovations

Zentis, a European fruit processing company, has acquired U.S.-based Sweet Ovations. Terms were not released. Sweet Ovations was previously owned by the private equity firm Speyside Equity.


Europe’s leading fruit-processing company is taking another key step in expanding its global operations. On November 1, 2012, Zentis acquired the U.S. company Sweet Ovations LLC, which has two manufacturing facilities: one East Coast operation in Philadelphia and one West Coast plant near Los Angeles. “This acquisition together with our existing facility in Plymouth, Indiana, is in keeping with our overall expansion strategy and helps solidify our position in North America”, states Karl-Heinz Johnen, member of the management board, responsible for sales and marketing. Johnen further explains that this move significantly expands the customer portfolio and generates synergies to use resources more efficiently. The executive management regards the acquisition as the next logical step in assisting Zentis to gain an even more prominent international profile and to further develop markets outside of Europe.

The previous owner of Sweet Ovations is the private equity firm Speyside Equity. “We feel that we have taken the company as far as we reasonably could during our seven years of ownership. Sweet Ovations needs to continue to grow and the opportunity presented by such a focused, global leader as Zentis makes a lot of sense. It’s a great fit. We will continue to look for new opportunities to acquire spin-offs and underperforming businesses, with an emphasis in traditional manufacturing industries”, commented Speyside partner Kevin Daugherty. Sweet Ovations’ President, Kevin Dulin, added “this business combination should create a great springboard for further growth under Zentis’ watch.”

Sweet Ovations was established in 1931. The company focuses primarily on the yogurt, bakery and ice-cream industries, as well as on large clients in the foodservice industry and in the well-known dairy brands. Annual revenues total more than 100 million U.S. dollars, and manufacturing capacity exceeds 65,000 tons.

World-class expertise and facilities

Zentis has operated its own manufacturing facility in Plymouth, Indiana, in the U.S.A. since 2006. “Our mission with the acquisition of Sweet Ovations is not directed towards building up a new business; rather, this acquisition allows us to draw from the world-class expertise and facilities of both companies”, advises Stephan Jansen, member of the management board, responsible for finances and IT/organization. Dietmar Otte, member of the management board, responsible for production and engineering, explains: “the existing Sweet Ovations facilities are state-of-the-art and can be incorporated into Zentis operations without the need for modifications. Likewise, the workforce of 250 employees will be integrated into the Zentis operation. An integration team will oversee a smooth assimilation while allowing all plants to retain a high level of autonomy.

Moreover, this alliance will generate strong research and development collaboration and depth. Norbert Weichele, CEO of Zentis Food Solutions North America, said: “Sweet Ovations will enable us to enrich our internally generated expertise in areas such as bakery products, ice cream and foodservice. This will provide the company with a great deal of potential for new growth. ”

Zentis Profile:

Zentis was founded in Aachen in 1893. It continues to operate as a family-owned business. Today, Zentis is the leading fruit-processing company in Europe, and is currently the number two producer of jams and fruit spreads in Germany. Zentis’ reputation for producing only top quality products under the strictest quality control is renowned. In 2011 Zentis’ quality was awarded Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft e. V. (DLG) and the State seal for Food NRW North Rhine-Westphalia. Zentis’ consumer brands include Belfrutta gourmet jams, Aachener Pflumli plum butter, Zentis Fruhstucks-Konfiture breakfast jams, Zentis Balance sugar-free jam, 75% Frucht fruit spread, Fein Cremig creamy fruit spreads, Zentis Leichte Fruchte Stevia sweetened light fruit spread, and Nusspli hazelnut spread. Innovative developments for the dairy industry are a speciality of Zentis, such as the newest market introduction of stable cereals for yogurt. Zentis employs more than 1,300 people at its main plant in Aachen and has more than 600 employees at sites in Poland, Hungary, Russia and the U.S.A. The company has received a number of awards for its activities promoting active environmental protection. Zentis is a world-class, innovative partner in the processing industry and a producer of goods with strong brand appeal. The company operates four divisions: sweet spreads (gourmet jams, jellies and sweet cream spreads), fruit preparations for the bakery and confectionery industry, confectionery products (marzipan and chocolate speciality consumer goods) and fruit preparations for the dairy industry.

Profile of Speyside Equity:
Since 2005, Speyside Equity has been investing in traditional businesses which have a history of profitability, a robust market position and a management team that will continue to run the business following the acquisition. Speyside focuses its search for investment opportunities on spin-offs from major multinational groups in classic industrial sectors. Speyside has significant expertise in support and implementation for complex carve-outs and is currently in a phase of identifying further industries and companies which match its investment philosophy. The target corridor for additional investments relates to companies in developed markets with a focus on the U.S.A. and Europe, typically valued between US$ 20 and 200 million.