US giant takes share in capital's Groenz

REBECCA STEVENSON
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2013

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American food processor Golden State Foods has taken majority ownership of Wellington-based condiment-maker Groenz Group.

Groenz makes sauces and mustards used in the "quick service restaurant" industry, including manufacturing the French Maid and Kiwi Style brands of condiments.

Groenz managing director Fred Groen said the company had grown to a point where a substantial trade partner was needed to expand further.

"We found that partner with GSF."

The partnership would give Groenz enhanced resources, market reach and product offerings to fully reach its potential, he said.

Golden State is one of the largest diversified food processors and distributors in the US and is a global US$5 billion (NZ$6b) company, the company website said.

It has about 4300 employees worldwide and its core businesses process liquids, meat, produce and bakery goods from 34 facilities. It is famous for supplying McDonald's restaurants since the 1950s and created the sauce for the Big Mac burger.

Golden State's New Zealand and Australia managing director John Wafer would not say how much the 51 per cent stake in Groenz has cost the food processor but said the companies were "very complementary" businesses.

While Golden State is a large food processor with big factories, Groenz was able to process smaller amounts of products more quickly, he said.

By filling this demand for Golden State's clients, Groenz would be able to expand its business, Wafer said. Its products should also reach a wider market in time through the deal.

Despite the sale it would be business as usual for Groenz under its existing management, he said.

Groenz' factory in Seaview houses manufacturing, warehousing, new product development and a test kitchen, along with office space. As well as manufacturing sauces and food products, the factory makes the packaging for its products.

Groenz employs more than 55 people on site in Seaview and has a 12-strong sales team throughout New Zealand and Australia.

The company's website says it was founded by Dutch immigrant Maarten Groen after he arrived in New Zealand in 1957 to work as a chef and discovered a lack of knowledge of European cuisine.

His first product "off the line" was mayonnaise and the company now makes more than 165 condiments.

Wafer said staff at the Seaview plant had been told of the sale and were enthusiastic.

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- Fairfax Media

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