By Lucy Hornby and David Lin
BEIJING, March 7 Bright Food Group is seeking to
buy a sugar company abroad, fresh on the heels of four overseas
acquisitions in the past three years that have made it one of
the most active Chinese state-owned firms in terms of
China's second-largest food manufacturer by revenue is
looking at potential targets in Southeast Asia, Australia and
Brazil, vice president Ge Junjie told Reuters on Thursday.
An estimated 6 million tonne surplus in global sugar supply
means it's a good strategic time to buy, Ge said, adding the
company was also interested in expanding its international
portfolio in wine, cookies, chocolate, and dairy.
"The next step in our international strategy is sugar. At
the moment Chinese per capita sugar consumption is only 10
kilograms a year; the international average is 15 kilograms,"
said Ge, who has spent his career in the sugar industry, working
for state-owned Shanghai Sugar, Cigarette and Wine Group before
it was merged into Bright Food in 2006.
"As China urbanizes and the Chinese people's consumption
spending increases, average sugar consumption will rise. So
that's good for us as a discretionary food company."
Bright Food targets total revenues of 150 billion yuan
within the next three years, implying average growth of 12
percent a year. It expects its international sales to account
for 25 percent of revenue by 2015, up from 15 percent now.
Bright Food is considering an overseas listing, Ge said,
without elaborating. The group has four units listed in
Shanghai: Shanghai Jinfeng Wine Co, Shanghai Haibo
Co, Shanghai Maling Aquarius Co and
Bright Dairy & Food Co.
Bright Food bought a controlling stake in British cereal
maker Weetabix last year, following on its 2011 purchase of
Australian biscuit, fruit and dairy producer Manassen Foods in
2011. In 2010, it bought a majority stake in New Zealand's
Synlait Milk. The same year, it was outbid in an effort to buy
the sugar and renewable energy unit of Australian conglomerate
Bright Food generally targets overseas brands that have
strong sales networks and want to penetrate the growing Chinese
"No matter how good the product is, if there is no synergy
with the China market, we won't pursue it," he said.
Bright Food, the nation's fourth-largest dairy producer, has
invested in dairy farms over the past few years in line with
government requirements that dairy producers control their
A 2008 scandal in which at least 6 babies died and 50,000
were hospitalized after drinking formula tainted with the
chemical melamine was blamed in part on dairy processors'
practice of buying milk from small, independent dairy farmers.
Over 70 percent of Bright Food's raw milk supply is from its
own farms, Ge said, built over the past two years with 50,000
cows imported from Australia. The company is also investing in
feed production, in a departure from its usual focus on retail