CJ CheilJedang Buys US and German Frozen Food Producers

Kahiki productSeoul, Korea-headquartered CJ CheilJedang Corp. has expanded its production prowess and brand presence in North American and European frozen food markets with the acquisition of Gahanna, Ohio-based Kahiki Foods and Mainfrost Tiefkühlkost GmbH of Nidderau, Germany. Purchase prices were not disclosed.

The CJ Group member ranks as the leading maker of frozen dumplings in South Korea, where its Bibigo label is a household name. Meanwhile, Bibigo products are gaining in popularity in the United States, where the company operates four frozen food plants, and in Europe, where Mainfrost has supplied it with frozen dumplings from a factory near Frankfurt for the past eight years. Other products made by the German company include beef rolls, kebabs, stuffed cabbage and stuffed peppers.

Kahiki offers a wide assortment of Asian-inspired ready meals, side dishes and appetizers sold in the freezer sections of retail stores across the USA. Products range from Japanese-Style Fried Rice and Sesame Noodles to Asian BBQ-Style Chicken, Szechuan-Style Pepper Steak Bowl & Roll, Teriyaki Vegetables, Pork Pot Stickers and Firecracker Chicken Egg Rolls.

CJ CheilJedang has been on the acquisition trail overseas for some time. In 2017 it bought a Russian frozen food company and a soybean protein supplier in Brazil, and began construction of a factory in Vietnam scheduled to become operational this summer.

bibigo steamed dumplingsThe Korean food manufacturing conglomerate has reportedly invested 230 billion won (approximately US $206 million) in South Korea, the United States, China and Russia over the past several years to enhance brand value, research and development capability, and manufacturing capacity. In 2016 it rang up 330 billion won (US $282.29 million) in dumpling sales at home and abroad. The goal is to reach the 1 trillion won mark (US $855.43 million) in Bibigo dumpling product sales by 2020, with 70% of the receipts coming from foreign markets.

Earlier this year CJ CheilJedang was reportedly among several bidders interested in acquiring Marshall, Minnesota-headquartered Schwan’s Company, which ranks among the largest privately held frozen food producers in the United States. Bangkok, Thailand-headquartered Charoen Pokphand Foods, which bought Minneapolis-based Bellisio Foods for $1.08 billion in 2016, was also said to have made a bid for Schwan’s.

Active in both retail and foodservice markets, Schwan’s Company generates approximately $3 billion in sales per annum and employs about 12,000 workers. Among its popular retail brands are Red Baron and Freschetta pizza, Mrs. Smiths and Edwards pies and desserts, and Pagoda and Minh Asian-style snacks and appetizers.