Refresco makes first North American acquisition in the soft drinks sector

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags United states

Picture credit: Refresco. The company bottles soft drinks and fruit juices in Europe.
Picture credit: Refresco. The company bottles soft drinks and fruit juices in Europe.
European-based Refresco Group has agreed to acquire Whitlock Packaging, in the US, for $129m.

The company claims up to 80% of customers from Whitlock Packaging already work with Refresco, which bottles soft drinks and fruit juices in Europe, and it wants to take advantage of the US firm’s co-packing side of the business.

Buy & build strategy

Hans Roelofs, CEO, Refresco, told BeverageDaily, this is the first time the company has entered the North American market.

The merger is part of its buy & build strategy which includes ‘selective investments and acquisitions to increase its manufacturing capacity and expand its range of products and private label business’. 

Roelefs said its buy & build strategy emcompasses four parts; Customers, Geographies, Operations and People. It wants to grow alongside its customers in the markets it currently operates; enter new product and packaging categories and to expand geographically. 

Whitlock Packaging employs around 550 people across three facilities in Oklahoma, Florida and New Jersey. It operates in the soft drink categories of juices, RTD teas, sports, energy and still drinks with packaging volume split between Co-Packing (98%) and Private Label (2%)

Aseptic beverage cartons

It also claims to be one of the first US bottlers to produce aseptic beverage cartons.

"We have been exploring opportunities to enter the North American market for some time​,” added Roelofs.

“Taking ownership of Whitlock Packaging will grow our co-packing to 34% of total group volume and we will be able to provide ‘A-brands’ in the US soft drinks market with supply chains in Europe and North America​.”

David Moller, CEO, Whitlock Packaging, said from a business perspective, the two companies were ‘a very good fit’.

Together we can pursue opportunities in the fragmented US market and offer customers high quality beverages and the widest range of possibilities in both North America and Europe​,” he added. 

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