Sanitarium moves into UK breakfast market in joint venture with Wingate

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 2nd February 2015
Sanitarium moves into UK breakfast market in joint venture with Wingate
Sanitarium moves into UK breakfast market in joint venture with Wingate

Life Health Foods UK, a 50/50 joint venture set up between the owners of Australian breakfast food manufacturer Sanitarium and Australian finance and investment house Wingate Group, is set to take on the UK breakfast market.

Life Health Foods UK will launch Australia’s number one breakfast cereal brand, Up&Go, to UK consumers in February 2015, ahead of assessing additional markets and opportunities in Europe and elsewhere.

Sanitarium, also known by its full name, Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company, which is the full trading name of Australian Health and Nutrition Association Limited, is a leader in the Australian breakfast foods market including both cereal and non-dairy beverages.

“It’s our owners’ strategic objective to see our major brands like Up&Go expand beyond Australia and New Zealand and this objective is made much easier with high quality strategic partners,” said Kevin Jackson, Sanitarium CEO and LHF (UK) Director.

Wingate is a finance and investment house with teams specialising in property, global equities, consumer and asset finance and private equity. The Company is owned by its principals and a group of substantial private and institutional investors.

Life Health Foods UK

The joint venture company, Life Health Foods UK, is based in London and has completed a number of key appointments including James McMaster as CEO (previously of Ella’s Kitchen and Gü) and Rosie Foster-Carter as Marketing Director (previously of PepsiCo and Innocent Drinks).

In addition to providing funding, Wingate Group will provide strategic expertise via three positions on a six-person Board created to support the success and expansion of Life Health Foods UK.

Australian Up&Go success

Up&Go has been a spectacular success since it was launched by Sanitarium in Australia 15 years ago, capitalising on growing demand for convenient, nutritional breakfast choices. In addition to being the category leader, Up&Go has achieved 25 per cent annual growth on average in the past five years, and it is now found in 22.3 per cent of Australian households.

Australian Food News reported in October 2014 that Sanitarium had launched a new variety in its Up&Go range in Australia, called Oats2Go.

Liquid breakfast market in the UK

In the UK, where the liquid breakfast market is in its infancy, Sanitarium said 38 million UK consumers skip breakfast “at least once a week”. The Company said research had identified “significant demand” for on-the-go breakfast options that are tailored to the local market.

Following extensive market research and planning, Sanitarium said Up&Go’s launch into the UK will be supported by a new look brand, new packaging, a reformulated product and a detailed marketing strategy to encourage trial among target consumers.

Sanitarium said interest from supermarkets was strong, with national distribution agreements already secured and negotiations with additional supermarkets proceeding well.

“The UK’s population is three times that of Australia’s and we project that the liquid breakfast market will reach £300m within five to ten years,” Mr Jackson said. “Wingate has strong financial credentials and a culture and values that align closely with ours.  I’m excited to be working with them to ensure Up&Go becomes an international success,” he said.

On-the-go breakfast part of ‘healthy foods trend’

Farrel Meltzer, Group Managing Director of the Wingate Group said increasing demand for on-the-go breakfast products was “part of a massive trend towards healthy food options sweeping through consumer markets in many countries”. Mr Meltzer said the trend was “driving retailers around the world to look for nutritious innovations that reinvigorate spending in the breakfast aisle”.

“We’ve been impressed by Sanitarium’s success, professionalism and commercial nous and we share a belief that providing nutritious foods is good for consumers, good for business and good for the society,” Mr Meltzer said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity, and we look forward to bringing key Sanitarium brands to the global market,” he said.