SunMoon Food Co has announced it has entered into a non-binding MoU with the shareholders of Singaporean importer-wholesaler BanFresh to acquire a 51 per cent stake in the business.
Ban Fresh, which is affiliated with key Singapore retail, organic and food service supplier Ban Choon Marketing, specialises in worldwide procurement of fresh and vegetables for sale in Singapore and other countries in Asia. Its customer base comprises growers and packers from countries such as Australia, Argentina, China, France, New Zealand, Spain, Malaysia, Thailand and South Africa.
As well as supplying wholesalers in Singapore, Ban Fresh also re-exports fruit and vegetables to various countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and China.
SunMoon’s core business, meanwhile, remains focused on fresh apples, pears and dehydrated product lines from China although it has been extending its sourcing to other supplying nations in recent years. As well as its domestic sales within China, the company has a strong presence in the Indonesian market, where its SunMoon brand retains a robust following. It also exports to more developed markets including North America and Europe.
Speaking at Asia Fruit Logsitica last week, where the MoU was signed, chairman of SunMoon, Gary Loh, told Asiafruit the deal with BanFresh was key to advancing its long-held plans to extend the SunMoon brand to new product lines and procurement origins.
“This is all about brand positioning and working with different distributors to expand and optimise our brand,” said Loh. “Ban Fresh will be able to sell its products under the SunMoon brand, and we will able to tap into their buying and selling networks. By sharing our supply base, we’ll be able to turn SunMoon into a truly global sourcing outfit.”
“SunMoon has close to 15,000 selling points in Indonesia, encompassing the stores of Alfamart, Indomaret, Lotte Mart, Seven Eleven, Ranch Market and The Food Hall,” Loh continued. “But Ban Fresh has been working to go into other markets such as Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, and they can lead us in brand extension.”
Tan Chin Han (CH Tan), the managing director of Ban Choon Marketing, is currently the major shareholder in Ban Fresh, while other shareholders include Vincent Pang Kay Joo and Ban Fresh general manager Tan Kok Tiong (Sam Tan).
Ban Choon’s business covers three main divisions: fresh produce; natural and organic products; and food service. The company has become a leading distributor for major supermarket chains, five-star hotels and a high-end restaurants, and it reported sales of S$47m in 2013.
SunMoon’s acquisition of a 51 per cent share in Ban Fresh amounts to a S$6m transaction. Under the terms of the deal, SunMoon will give the Ban Fresh shareholders S$3m worth of SunMoon shares upon completion of the deal. It will also pay S$1.1m in cash at the time of the completion, and a further S$1.5m in cash six months after the deal has gone through.
Sam Tan, who has 20 years’ experience in the business, is set to continue as the general manager of Ban Fresh once the joint venture company with SunMoon is established.
“Our companies have been working together for a couple of years, with Ban Fresh and Ban Choon buying Fuji apples and other fruits from SunMoon, mainly for distribution in Singapore,” noted Loh. “We were trying to find ways of working more closely together to extend our respective reaches, rather than just having an agency arrangement, and we felt that forming a joint venture was the way forward.”
Ban Choon’s Joe Tan said Ban Fresh was excited to partner with SunMoon. “SunMoon is a very prestigious brand, and we see a lot of potential to develop it.”