Buyer found for struggling food business, hundreds of jobs saved

Buyer found for struggling food business, hundreds of jobs saved

Agribusiness
As many as 400 jobs have been saved with the purchase of In2Food by Produce Republic.

As many as 400 jobs have been saved with the purchase of In2Food by Produce Republic.

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A Melbourne food processing company has bought struggling In2Food and saved 400 jobs in the process.

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A Melbourne food processor has bought struggling In2Food and saved 400 jobs in the process.

In2food, a national fresh food wholesaler, went into receivership in August blaming the coronavirus pandemic's snap lockdowns.

In2food, which also trades as Yarra Valley Farms Australia, supplies supermarkets, hospitals, aged care, retailers, airlines and restaurants with fresh farm foods.

Chief executive officer Bill Kollatos said the disruption of snap lockdowns in multiple states, combined with the "problematic retail journey within the Ready To Eat meals category", left the company no choice but to enter voluntary administration.

Receiver FTI Consulting held a competitive bidding process to sell the company to Produce Republic.

Produce Republic is the owner of food processing brands including Yarra Valley-basedfrozen fruit supplier Aussie Frozen Fruit.

In2Food sources fresh fruit and vegetables directly from growers and produce markets and prepares the produce for customers including hotels, the restaurant and catering industry, health and aged care facilities, and food manufacturers.

The group operates a network of 10 storage, distribution and packaging facilities throughout Australia and a fleet of more than 100 trucks.

Produce Republic's managing director, Brett Jackson, said Produce Republic was well placed to return In2Food to profitable growth as Australia emerged from the disruption of COVID-19 and lockdowns, preserving a valuable supply outlet for produce growers.

"We're excited by the potential of a recapitalised and revitalised In2Food," Mr Jackson said.

"While the business was adversely affected by COVID-19 it has outstanding fundamentals, with established supply relationships with local growers, a diverse customer base, loyal employees and an integrated national footprint. In2Food is uniquely placed to service both locally and at national scale," he said.

"One of our first priorities will be to re-engage with the vast network of growers who have supplied In2Food previously.

"Produce Republic is led by people who understand growers and their concerns. Our commitment is to partner closely with growers as we gear up to meet the surge in demand from customer segments like airlines, restaurants and catering as our economies open up.

Established in 2019 by Sydney-based investment group Remagen Capital, Produce Republic is a leading supplier of frozen fruit into the retail market.

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