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Dentons expects buoyant growth in vegan food market following sale of Bute Island Foods

Bute Island Foods

Lawyers in Edinburgh and Glasgow advised on the sale to Canadian player Saputo

DENTONS predicts a surge in activity in the vegan and plant-based food market after the law firm’s Scottish offices advised Bute Island Foods on their sale to Canadian dairy company, Saputo.

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Bute Island Foods, which employs around 180 staff, makes vegan cheese alternative Sheese, as well as own-brand products, while Saputo owns labels including Cathedral City, Country Life, and Utterly Butterly.

Saputo paid a total of C$187 million (£109 million) to buy both Bute Island Foods and a factory owned by Wisconsin Specialty Protein in Reedsburg.

The new owner has pledged more than C$5 million (around £3 million) over five years to support community initiatives on the island as part of its wider commitment to invest 1% of its pre-tax profits each year in community programmes and organisations.

Bute Island Foods was advised by: Lorna McCaa, a tax partner in Dentons’ Glasgow office; Adam Knowles, a corporate senior associate in the firm’s Edinburgh office; and Brian Moore, a corporate partner who is also based in Edinburgh.

The deal marks the first major transaction in the vegan market for Dentons’ Scottish team, building on its vast experience in the wider food and drink sector.

Data from Kantar showed the plant-based dairy category has doubled in size over the past five years and is now worth just under £600 million.

A total of 15,206 products carried The Vegan Society’s trademark in 2020, up from 14,262 in 2019, with Sheese among the labels carrying the certification.

McCaa said: “We expect to see much more activity in the plant-based and vegan sector in the months ahead.

“There’s huge demand out there for high-quality, authentic products like Sheese, which is shown by the number of brands asking Bute Island Foods to make own-label products.

“It’s fantastic for a Scottish company with the heritage and provenance of Bute Island Foods to attract the attention of an international player like Saputo.

“Appearing on the radar of a global entity is down to the quality of the products being made by the company and the efficient way in which the team runs its business.

“We’re looking forward to supporting other businesses like Bute Island Foods on the next steps in their growth journey.”

Bute Island Foods commented: “This was the first time that we’d been involved in a corporate transaction on this scale and so it was great to have support from Dentons’ team in Scotland.

“They guided us through this unknown territory with comfort and ease and were always on hand to advise us.

“Becoming part of Saputo will help us to bring Sheese and our other products to a much wider audience.

“As we approach our 35th anniversary, we’re excited to be taking this next step on our journey and we thank Dentons for helping us spread our wings.”

The sale of Bute Island Foods to Saputo is the latest in a long line of food and drink deals involving Dentons’ Scottish offices.

The firm has advised on deals including Robert Wiseman Dairies’ takeover by Müller, and the sale of First Milk’s hard cheese business to Adams Foods and its sports nutrition business to Protein Partners.

In the whisky industry, Dentons has advised Edrington on the sale of its Cutty Sark whisky brand to La Martiniquaise-Bardinet and the sale of its Glenturret distillery to Art & Terroir, as well as Edrington’s purchase of the Glenrothes Speyside single malt Scotch whisky from wine and spirits merchant Berry Bros & Rudd.

Dentons was also involved in the equity raises which funded the construction of the Lindores distillery in Fife and the Ncn’ean distillery on the Morvern peninsula.

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