Tyrrells Crisps, England’s biggest maker of up-market chips, has bulked up its presence in Australia with the purchase of Yarra Valley Snack Foods as it seeks to establish a manufacturing base in the region to feed into an industry expected to turn over more than $3 billion in revenue this financial year.
Tyrrells, Britain’s fastest growing hand-cooked premium chip brand, which has an exclusive deal with Coles to sell its range, snapped up Yarra Valley Snack Foods for an undisclosed sum, grabbing control of its portfolio of natural, organic and gluten-free products.
The acquisition came 15 months after Tyrrells chips launched in Australia, with chief executive David Milner telling The Australian from Britain the expansion would provide the opportunity to accelerate the growth of the Tyrrells brand in the local market.
Mr Milner said Tyrrells, backed by Dubai-based luxury brands investor Investcorp — once the owner of Gucci, Tiffany and Helly Hansen — would invest in Yarra Valley Snack Foods’ manufacturing capabilities to make it the first Tyrrells manufacturing base outside Britain.
He said the two companies had many similarities.
Yarra Valley Snack Foods, producer of the Thomas Chipman Organic Chips range, was based in Lilydale, Victoria, a region known for its fine wine and artisan food producers, while Tyrrells was based on a farm in the English county of Herefordshire, famous for its potatoes and cider apples.
“We are delighted to be investing in Australian manufacturing,” Mr Milner said.
“Our hand-cooked crisps have been extremely well received in Australia, where consumers value well-made food with provenance.”
Following the initial successful launch of Tyrrells in Coles supermarkets in 2014, Australia now ranks as Tyrrells’ second-largest international market after France.
Mr Milner said Tyrrells was growing 30 per cent a year, and this marked a big investment for the group.
“I’ve always wanted to come back to Australia … the chip market is very buoyant,” he said.
It comes as the Australian snack foods sector is reaping good profits. Business information analyst IBISWorld is tipping health food snack production in particular to soar as Australians seek healthier options.
IBISWorld believes food manufacturing and health snack food production industries will generate combined revenue of more than $3 billion this financial year.
It said while traditional snack food manufacturing continued to generate the greatest overall revenue, the health snack food production industry was primed to grow at a faster pace than over the past five years, increasing by an annualised average of 3 per cent.