Functional feed the winner in LCI and Unicorn merger

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

Functional feed the winner in LCI and Unicorn merger
France headquartered, Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients (LCI), is to acquire 100% of the shares of Unicorn Grain Specialties (UGS) from Nordian Capital.

Financial details were not disclosed. The deal is subject to the standard regulatory review.

UGS has a solid presence in the Benelux and Germany, competitive and innovative products, a team with a solid know-how, said LCI. It has a wide product portfolio comprising of functional and specialty ingredients based on grains such as maize, rye and wheat.

“Unicorn brings a lot of expertise in pet food and animal feed, but also offers it offers two food platforms: understanding texture and improving nutrition,” ​said Dr Walter Lopez, spokesperson for LCI.

The merged entities will have a workforce of 350 employees will generate a turnover close to €150m (US$177.4 million). The group will process more than 330,000 tons of grain each year in seven production plants across Europe.

Geographically, the merger of the two companies is complementary. UGS has a production unit in the Netherlands [in Weert] and a sales office in Germany, while LCI has six production units in France and a sales office in the UK. So we cover all of Northern Europe.

“The UGS production plant located in Weert will continue to supply Benelux and Germany, while LCI plants will supply France. Feed grains do not travel well because transport costs are restrictive on this type of material,”​ Lopez told us.

All of the employees will be retained, said LCI.

Technical knowledge around single grains

René Coenen, commercial director, UGS, told FeedNavigator the combined businesses are quite unique. The merger, he continued, will provide UGS with more technical knowledge around single grains to widen its product portfolio, it will also ensure a more stable supply chain due to the additional production facilities.

Furthermore, the greater scale of the combined businesses will make more money available for UGS to carry out animal trials and generate “better propositions.”

“From a geographic and production technology perspective, it is a win-win for both companies.

“We are present in Belgium, the Netherlands, and in Germany, in terms of feed, and the acquisition allows us access the French feed market now. 

“Unicorn is active in feed and pet food, and LCI less so, so we have a lot of knowledge in relation to animal nutrition, in relation to feeding programs for piglets, or in functional flours for calf milk replacements,” ​said Coenen.

Limagrain’s core business is seeds - it is the fifth largest producer of field seeds in the world, and number one in Europe in terms of wheat and barley seed development. Technical knowledge in that respect will support product development at UGS, said Coenen.

“LCI has in-depth understanding of individual grain functionality– we currently don’t have this expertise in house so we will really benefit from this kind of knowledge.”

He said this ‘vertical integration’ aspect of the acquisition will support further innovation at UGS, in terms of ways to increase feed intake and ADG: “We can select grains with the highest fiber content, for example.”

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