Dairy

MG is not on Bega’s radar

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October 31, 2017

Executive chairman of Bega, Barry Irvin outside Tatura Milk Products. The company has sold a spray dryer to fund its expansion, but Bega says Murray Goulburn is not on its hit list any longer.

Bega Cheese reported a $139million profit to the annual general meeting last week, but no-one was talking about the rumoured interest in buying competitor Murray Goulburn.

While executive chairman Barry Irvin talked about the strong balance sheet putting Bega in a good position for more acquisitions, shareholders did not raise any questions directly about the other milk processor.

Bega has sold a spray dryer at Tatura Milk and an infant formula finishing plant to raise $200million.

Of this revenue, $180million was paid in April 2017, $10million was paid in June and the balance is due by December 31.

Just to make things more interesting, this week big American company Kraft will take Bega Cheese to court in the United States over the design of the peanut butter label now owned by Bega.

Bega bought the Melbourne factory, associated intellectual property — and the peanut butter recipe — from owner Mondelez with a plan to rebrand it with Bega, as it did this year.

Kraft has recently announced it is relaunching its own brand of peanut butter and has taken exception to the Bega packaging.

Mr Irvin said the legal proceedings related to an agreement between companies in the Kraft and Mondelez groups at the time of the separation of those groups in 2012.

‘‘Bega Cheese is assessing these proceedings but is confident of its legal rights in its peanut butter products and will vigorously enforce those rights,’’ Mr Irvin said last week.

On Monday last week, Kraft released an ‘‘exciting announcement’’ confirming ‘‘two of Kraft’s traditional favourites are set to return to supermarket shelves with Kraft Singles appearing from this week and Kraft Peanut Butter making a comeback in early 2018’’.

Country News has been asking Kraft where it is making its peanut butter and cheese slices but it’s not telling.

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