Corn Products International expands into sweeteners with SPI Polyols

by Josh Sosland
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WESTCHESTER, ILL. — Corn Products International, Inc. reached a definitive agreement to acquire the food ingredient business of SPI Polyols, Inc., a subsidiary of ABF North America Holdings, Inc. The transaction will give Corn Products a presence in the market for polyols, sugar-free, reduced calorie sweeteners, primarily derived from starch.

Also part of the transaction, terms of which were not disclosed, Corn Products is acquiring the shares of an SPI unit that holds the remaining 50% of Getec Guanabara Quimica Industrial S.A., or Getec, in Brazil. The combined businesses are projected to have annual sales of nearly $100 million, Corn Products said.

Not included in the transaction is the pharma business of SPI, which will continue to operate as an ABF subsidiary.

The food business of SPI Polyols, based in New Castle, Del., makes and markets specialty polyols, including crystalline sorbitol, crystalline maltitol, mannitol, specialty liquid polyols and liquid sorbitol for the food, beverage and confectionery markets, as well as the industrial, personal and oral care and nutritional supplement markets.

Getec is a major Brazilian maker of polyols, including liquid sorbitol and mannitol, and anhydrous dextrose for the food, candy and confectionery industries as well as the personal care and pharmaceutical markets. Corn Products in September 2006 increased its ownership of Getec to 50% from 20%.

"This acquisition will strengthen our sweeteners platform and reinforce our Pathway strategy to expand our value-added, specialty product portfolio and become a broader-based ingredients company," said Sam Scott, Corn Products chairman, president and chief executive officer. "The acquisition also would make us a leading producer of polyols in Latin America with facilities in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, and would allow us to enter the U.S. and Canadian markets primarily as a specialty polyols supplier."

Already approved by the company’s board of directors, Corn Products said closing is anticipated before the end of March, subject to customary closing conditions.

Also last week, Corn Products said its subsidiary in Argentina, Productos de Maiz, S.A., has acquired DEMSA Industrial Peru – Derivados del Maiz, S.A., the only corn refiner in Peru. DEMSA has annual sales of $15 million.

The SPI Polyols business is a major ingredient unit of ABF North America Holdings, Inc., part of U.K.-based Associated British Foods, P.L.C.

Other A.B.F. businesses in North America include AB Enzymes, a producer and marketer of enzymes for food, feed and industrial uses; ABITEC Corp., a maker of emulsifiers and specialty chemicals; PGP International, a supplier of grain-based extruded ingredients; and Protient, a marketer of whey, milk and soy protein isolates.

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