British food brands that went abroad
Iconic British snack brand KP has been sold to a German company, it's been announced. The 160-year-old brand is part of snacking royalty here in the UK. Sister brands read like a who's who of snack classics, including McCoy’s crisps and Hula Hoops.
The salted peanuts brand's British owner, United Biscuits, has sold KP to German outfit Intersnack for £500 million.
Sadly KP is far from the first British brand to head abroad. Here’s a rundown of other iconic British foods now in foreign ownership.
It’s been a favourite of hungry ploughmen and snotty-nosed schoolboys for donkey’s years, but Branston Pickle (a peculiarly British condiment) has been sold to the Japanese. We don’t mean Japanese shoppers have taken a fancy to the sharp tang and crunchy consistency. No, Japanese vinegar manufacturer Mizkan Group has gobbled up the British brand in a £92.5 million deal. Mizkan has no plans to mess with the much-loved recipe, so consumers shouldn’t notice any difference. But it’s perhaps a sad day for our food industry when such a typically British brand is no longer produced by a British company.
Rui Vieira, PA Wire, Press Association Images
Sarson's and Haywards
Branston isn’t even the first British acquisition by the Mizkan Group. Earlier this year the company bought vinegar maker Sarson's and pickles firm Haywards for £41 million. Sarson's distinctive pear-shaped bottle has been a chip shop staple for decades. The country’s bestselling vinegar was first produced in 1794, and the company claims that nine out of 10 portions of chips are sprinkled with Sarson's.
Haywards is another historic British brand, dating to 1868. It makes pickled onions, red cabbage, piccalilli and gherkins. Like Branston, for the time being at least the products will remain unchanged.
HP Sauce - the tangy British brown sauce of choice - was invented by a Nottingham grocer in 1895 and sold for £150 to a Birmingham vinegar maker. It quickly became an iconic British brand, with its label proudly displaying the House of Commons, from which the sauce takes its name. It hasn’t been produced by a British-owned company for many years, but until 2007, HP Sauce was at least made in England. Then parent company Heinz moved production to Holland, closing the UK factory and causing an almighty fuss. The storm has recently been reignited thanks to an ill-judged marketing campaign by Heinz glorifying HP’s British history.
Weetabix was a family-owned firm, based in Northamptonshire, until 2004, when it was bought by investors Lion Capital. Then, earlier this year, the Chinese food company Bright Food bought a 60% stake in the business and effectively made Weetabix Chinese-owned. It’s China’s biggest overseas food acquisition to date, but may be a taste of things to come. And how British was Weetabix? Actually, not as British as you might think. The wholegrain wheat breakfast biscuits were actually invented in Australia.
Ben Birchall, PA Archive, Press Association Images
A general view of the Cadbury factory in Keynsham, near Bristol, in 2010, after new owners Kraft announced it would be closing the factory and moving production to Poland
Cadbury is a huge British success story, a producer of much-loved chocolate that started as a small backstreet operation in early Victorian Birmingham and grew to become the second largest confectionery business in the world. Cadbury is a symbol of British industrial success. Or at least it was, right up until the point when the company was sold to the American food manufacturer Kraft in 2010. Kraft had launched a hostile takeover bid the previous year that was rebuffed, but eventually bought the company for around £11 billion.
During the struggle for control of the company, Cadbury became something of a cause celebre, and its sale was seen not just as the end of a great British company but also as a symbol of a wider British manufacturing malaise.
You don’t see shoals of happy tuna fish leaping about the Irish sea, but that small inconvenience didn’t stop John West of Liverpool becoming synonymous with the tasty tinned fish. The brand was created 140 years ago by Scotsman, John West, who sold the name and the business to two Liverpudlians in 1892.
John West hasn’t been in British hands for a while. In 1997 it was bought by Heinz, and in 2010 it was sold to Thai Union Frozen Products, the world’s biggest producer of canned tuna.
New Covent Garden Soup
Foreign investors don’t just like to gobble up historic British brands. New British brands, it seems, are just as vulnerable to their voracious appetites. New Covent Garden Soup was set up by two north London entrepreneurs in 1986, and the company helped usher in what might be described as a soup revolution, popularising exotic new flavours such as carrot and coriander and Moroccan chickpea.
But since 1986 the company has flown further and further from its London roots, having changed hands four times. In a slightly depressing sign of the times, its most recent deal has seen it move to Hain Celestial, a US producer of vegetarian and organic ready meals (including the Linda McCartney brand) from Singapore Airport Terminal Services (a name redolent of fine home-cooked flavours if ever there was one) in a £145 million deal.
And in August, Hain Celestial acquired another well-known British food firm - Hartley’s jam.
It’s hard to know whether these foreign takeovers will help to secure the future of these iconic British brands or lead to their slow demise. What is certain is that decisions over their future will no longer be taken in London, Birmingham or Manchester.
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We dont manufacture much in the UK now and to make things even worse we are selling all
our well established UK companies to the highest overseas bidder
VERY SAD WHY OH WHY
HP sauce sold to Holland, I grew up within 'smelling' disance of that factory.....I think that now i really am losing the will to live!
It is a sad comment to make but it is even more sadly true - most consumers in the UK don't give a hoot where stuff is made or who owns it, as long as it is cheap. We can huff and puff as much as we but the food industry worldwide is as it is and not how we might like it to be.
You have to stop British companies and foods brands going oversea, bring them back and that will help to give jobs for British people. No wonder the the jobless are going up. Give them some tax breaks and the jobless will come down.
Well said that lady! I was born as the Second World War started and remember the "brave new World" we were to enter into as the mid fifties past. I can only save from my own experience, and living abroad a lot of the time for the last 10 years that, every time I return I am more dissapointed and depressed in the country I was once proud of. It seems that after selling off North sea oil and gas deposits, someone somewhere decided to let everything else go with few exceptions. I see only a country languishing in past glory, apart from a few high profile few, we just do not produce the kind of gutsy people, the risk takers, people who do things for the country, not just for the money.
If there were enough people of that ilk, the lethargy that prevails would probably sink any effort that they might make. It does appear that poor old Britain is going the way of the Titanic, Were I religious, I would be praying for her every day.
More British people out of work and another product I won't be buying.
Anyone who is stupid enough to buy any "celebrity" brand deserves to be ripped off. In fact they already are.
Robert you seem to forget who got this country in this mess - Blair and Brown - New Labour. Nothing new about them, just as incompetent as old labour and under that lot we ended up in debt.
What did the truthful labour do? brought in immigrants deliberately to change the ethnic profile of many of Britains cities to ensure that they retained the votes (repeatedly stated that they were controlling the immigration - Lies) Increased benefits across the board so that they were forcing people into voting for Labour - buying votes (stated that it was to help the poor of this country - lies - actually aimed at the poor immigrants invited in by labour). Sold anything that the government owned that had value - including the gold reserve (Brown stated that still retaining gold was from the previous century and that he had precurred a great deal - lies - he sold our gold at a loss when gold was at its lowest price). Blair proclaimed that Brown was a great chancellor - lies the man was totally incompetent and proceeded to remove all controls from the banks - we all know what happened there. Weapons of mass destruction - how many people have those lies killed and why? Bush wanted to restart the failing US economy and get cheap oil.
The present government is trying to reduce the debt that we have and one part of that is reducing the benefits bill, something that labour increased just before the election as they knew that they would fail and the next government would have a problem.
So grow up!