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Pulmuone bolsters tofu play with $50m acquisition of Vitasoy USA

Pulmuone Holding’s California subsidiary plans to use Vitasoy USA’s infrastructure to scale up its line of all-natural food brands.

Packaged food-focused Pulmuone USA has acquired the assets of Vitasoy USA, owner of a line of soy-based packaged food brands, for about $50 million.

The deal includes most of Vitasoy’s assets, including branded soy-based product-lines Nasoya, Azumaya and San Sui. However, Vitasoy USA will continue operating as an importer and distributor for its Hong Kong-based parent Vitasoy Holdings, Pulmuone’s chief commercial officer Ross Gatta told Agri Investor.

“We’re buying north of 90 to 95 percent of the assets,” said Gatta. “But Vitasoy will continue to exist as a brand.”

The acquisition of Vitasoy USA’s production, sales and distribution network provides Pulmuone with scaling opportunities across its portfolio of US “all-natural” branded packaged food companies, which includes tofu and meat substitute producer Wildwood Foods.

“Pulmuone now has a strong national platform and presence that will not only drive manufacturing and logistics synergies, but will also enable us to leverage a comprehensive sales and distribution infrastructure to further drive availability of our brands and products within the USA,” said Pulmuone chief executive H Y Lee in a statement.

Lee added that the acquisition will allow the company to expand its presence in the tofu sector, as well as other food categories.

Soy prices have fallen steeply since reaching peak levels in late 2012 amidst a broader collapse in commodity prices. Agri fund managers have told Agri Investor in recent months that the current price environment is good for processors and other mid- to downstream companies on the agri value chain, because food prices for consumers have not fallen as steeply as prices for grain and other inputs, indicating higher margins at the processing, packaging and distribution level.

However, Gatta said low soy prices have not factored into the company’s expansion strategy.

“Our push for acquisitions is much more strategic,” he said. “We focus on long-term investments. We don’t really bet on short-term commodity prices.”

Vitasoy USA is a Massachusetts-based subsidiary of Vitasoy Holdings, a Hong Kong Stock Exchange-traded company specialised in soy beverages and tofu.

Pulmone USA is a subsidiary of Pulmuone Holdings, a Korea-based holding company with more than $1 billion in annual sales.