Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group eyes Danone’s Stonyfield in $850m bid

Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co. has put in an $850m bid for organic yogurt brand Stonyfield Farm.

Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co., China’s largest dairy manufacturer by retail sales, has made an $850m bid for Danone-owned Stonyfield Farm, producer of organic and Greek yogurt products. 

The bid announcement comes after Danone said it would sell US-based Stonyfield which was a requirement following its acquisition of WhiteWave in April 2017.

Dean Foods is reportedly also in the running to buy Stonyfield from Danone, but has seemed to turn its attention towards strengthening its non-dairy offerings with an investment in Good Karma, maker of non-dairy flax-based spoonable and drinkable yogurts, earlier this month.

The global organic dairy market was worth $718m in 2017, up from $527m in 2011, according to market research provider, Euromonitor International, and Stonyfield’s share of the organic dairy yogurt market increased by a CAGR of 4.5% from 2011-2016.

Yili seeks organic dairy growth

China is a promising market for organic yogurt and Danone already has a history of working with the country’s dairy companies. In 2014, Danone and Inner Mongolia Mengniu Dairy Industry entered a joint venture, Inner Mongolia Mengniu Dairy, which operates its chilled dairy businesses.  

According to Euromonitor International’s Health and Wellness database, China has a highly consolidated organic packaged food and beverage market, with the top three players accounting for more than 80% combined retail value sales in 2015. Mongolia Yili Industrial Group is the largest player in China’s organic CPG market with a 35% share, followed by Mengniu with a 32% share.

With the Chinese market set to reach $2bn in organic retail growth by 2020, Yili Industrial Group has been attempting to expand its organic portfolio after its plan to acquire a 37% stake for $679m in China-based Shengmu Organic Milk in October 2016 fell through because Beijing regulators did not approve the deal.

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