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3rd October 2023

T2 2023: Food & Beverage M&A activity rises but significant absence of middle to higher market deals

Further highlights include:

  • Over 75.0% of deals had an estimated value of £10.0m or less as there was a significant absence of middle to higher market deals during the period, similar to T1 2023 (c. 80.0% of deals had an estimated value of £10.0m or less). Only 8.1% of transactions were estimated to be above the £50.0m mark, falling well below the five-year historic average of 13.9%.
  • Overseas buyers were responsible for many of the Tertial’s deals, accounting for 24.2% of deal volume, which is in line with 2022 at 25.0%. The number of deals with a financial buyer increased compared to T2 2022, with 27.3% of buyers a financial buyer compared to 9.1% in T2 2022.
  • Equivalent to T1, the beverages sector was the most active with several niche producers changing hands. There were multiple deals in the beer market; with Breal Capital acquiring two microbreweries in Brew by Numbers and Black Sheep Brewer.
  • The chilled food space has been particularly active this tertial comprising of 21.6% of transactions compared with only 2.0% to the same period in the prior year and 6.1% in T1. Notably, chilled ready meals manufacturer Oscar Mayer was acquired by Pemberton Asset Management and fresh ingredients supplier Freshcut Foods was acquired by Flywheel Partners

Mark Lynch, Partner at Oghma Partners, said: “The resilient and defensive characteristics of the food and beverage M&A sector can once again be seen with T2 deal volume at its highest level since 2019 despite the relentless market challenges. Whilst there has been a recovery in deal value, this has been from a very low base and the overall quantum value of transactions remains low. A challenging funding and trading environment with the added uncertainty of whether, or not, the UK will dip into recession provides the economic backdrop. These factors have manufactured a significantly less favourable environment for larger transactions with 75.7% of deals having an estimated enterprise value of less than £10.0m.

“Once again, the increase in deal volume and low value deals can also be explained by a surge in distressed M&A activity with 27.0% of T2 deals being an acquisition out of administration, up 14.9% from T1. Business models have been challenged by the rise in the cost of debt as well as the cost of raw materials combined with a more value focused consumer. Some notable acquisitions out of administration within T2 include the acquisition of Meatless Farm by VFC Foods and the acquisition of Plant & Bean by Heather Mills (VBites). Both deals highlight the concentration that is now going on in the meat free industry encouraged by the shrinking of the category and challenged business models of some of the businesses.

“As usual, bolt on activity was relatively prevalent in the period. For example, Britvic acquired Jimmy’s iced coffee, Richardson Malting acquired Ragleth, and Espersen acquired Iceland Seafoods. These types of transactions can often provide ‘easy reach’ synergies which encourage the acquisition activity in the first place. Frequently these synergies will be at the back office and purchasing level, sometimes manufacturing and less prevalent and, arguably, harder to obtain, sales synergies.

“Our outlook for the remainder of the year continues to be positive, at least from a deal volume standpoint. The recovery we have seen in activity is likely to be aided by easing food inflation both output and input. Consumer demand has remained steady and this helps provide re-assurance to buyers. As 2023 numbers are delivered and the outlook shifts to 2024, there may be more confidence amongst sellers to bring the larger deals to market.”


About Oghma Partners 

Based in London, Oghma Partners is an independent corporate finance advisory firm providing acquisition, divestment, fund-raising and strategy advice to European consumer-focused companies and investors. A ten-strong team, offering a combined track record of over 100 successfully completed deals and award-winning industry research expertise, Oghma Partners is ideally positioned to ensure companies and investors meet their corporate goals. The team includes members with extensive investment banking experienced gained in senior roles at leading global investment banks. Oghma Partners combines the tool kits of the big banks with an old-fashioned focus on the client. For more information please visit

The report can be viewed here.

Contact: Jamie Brownlee,

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