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Dr. Oetker orders McCain pizza

N.B. plant included in sale of McCain's frozen pizza business

Germany’s Dr. Oetker is set to take a bigger slice of the Canadian and U.S. pizza market, with a deal to buy McCain Foods’ North American frozen pizza business.

New Brunswick-based McCain announced Wednesday it will sell its non-Pizza Pocket-related frozen pizza business to Dr. Oetker for an undisclosed sum, pending regulatory approvals in Canada.

The deal includes two McCain pizza processing plants: a Canadian facility at Grand Falls, N.B., about 180 km northwest of Fredericton, and a plant in the U.S. at Lodi, N.J., just west of Hackensack.

All staff at the New Brunswick and New Jersey plants will be offered continued employment with Oetker, the two privately-held companies said Wednesday.

McCain CEO Dirk Van de Put said Oetker’s commitment to the staff’s continued employment was an “important factor” in the decision to sell.

The German food firm will also get a two-year licence for the use of the McCain brand name in Canada.

The Ellio’s brand, which McCain uses in the U.S. to market rectangular toaster-oven-sized frozen pizzas, also goes to Oetker in the deal. McCain bought the Ellio’s operation in 1988.

McCain, meanwhile, keeps its Pizza Pocket business in Canada — and its remaining frozen pizza businesses outside North America. Financial terms of the deal will not be released, a McCain spokesperson said.

“Ideally positioned”

Looking to cut out its overseas shipments of up to 75,000 pizzas per day to North America, Oetker in May opened its own major Canadian frozen pizza processing plant and warehousing operation at London, Ont., producing its Ristorante, Casa di Mama and Panebello pizza brands. [Related story]

“The McCain business is a perfect fit for us and furthers our strategic goal of establishing ourselves as leader in the Canadian frozen pizza market and therewith strengthening our position in this market as well as expanding our position in the northeast of the U.S.,” Dr. Oetker chairman Richard Oetker said in the company’s release.

Adding two new sites to the $113 million London project, he said, means “we are ideally positioned to meet the growing demand for Dr. Oetker pizzas in Canada and the U.S.”

Oetker, which also markets baking ingredients and dessert mixes in Canada under the Dr. Oetker name, has operated in Canada since 1960 — originally under the name Condima Imports. The German firm has also owned the Shirriff pudding and pie filling brand in Canada since 1992.

McCain, best known for its frozen french fry business, has been in frozen pizza since 1976, when it built and opened the Grand Falls plant, which would be expanded in 2004.

The company later set up frozen pizza operations at Ballarat, Australia and Scarborough, England in 1979 and took up the business of a Mississauga-based mini-pizza maker, Aloro Foods, in 2000.

“Pizza represents a small portion of McCain’s North American business and today’s announcement enables us to focus on businesses where we believe we can drive long-term growth for the benefit of employees and customers,” Van de Put said Wednesday. — Network

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