Cooke strengthens its position in Europe by acquiring Belgian shrimp processor Morubel

Cooke strengthens its position in Europe by acquiring Belgian shrimp processor Morubel

Cooke Seafood has announced the acquisition of Belgian shrimp processor Morubel from investment firm Bencis. The Canadian seafood company continues its expansion process and strengthens its position in Europe with the purchase of Western Europe's leading shrimp processor that cultivates, processes, packs, and distributes shrimp and other seafood products. Glenn Cooke, CEO of Cooke, said that this acquisition is an attractive addition to Cooke's seafood offering in Europe.

Commitment to sustainability and innovation

In the announcement of the purchase, Cooke notes that Morubel distributes its market-leading organic and frozen products to the food industry and retail customers throughout Europe. The Belgian company, which distributes both wild-caught (Argentina red shrimp, tropical prawns and shrimp, Vannamei prawns, crayfish, and squid) and aquaculture (Black Tiger prawns, northern prawns, mussels, and scallops) products, stands out for the full traceability of its global supply chain, as well as with multiple sustainability and food safety certifications.

Glenn Cooke, CEO, Cooke Inc. Photo: Cooke.

It is precisely this commitment to sustainability and innovation that Cooke's CEO wanted to highlight in his statements on the acquisition. "Morubel's focus on developing sustainable, new added value products and continuously focusing on innovation was an attractive complement to our European seafood offerings", said Glenn Cooke.

The Belgian company, for its part, is very optimistic about the expansion possibilities that joining the Canadian giant means for them. "The Morubel team welcomes the sale to Cooke – we've found an ideal alignment to enable our future growth", said Dirk De Pandelaere, CEO of Morubel. "We see a lot of opportunities to expand our product line to sell additional Cooke products in European countries where Cooke is building its presence".

Strengthening the position in Europe

With this acquisition, Cooke will reach Morubel customers in Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, and France. A further step in the presence of the Cooke family of companies, which previously had already diversified operations in Europe including Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, Northeast Nutrition Scotland, Cooke Aquaculture Spain / Grupo Culmarex, and Bioriginal Europe/Asia B.V. in The Netherlands.

Founded in 1954, Morubel was acquired in 2014 by Bencis Capital Partners. The independent investment firm, with offices in Amsterdam, Brussels and Düsseldorf, is now selling to the Canadian company in a deal whose terms have not been disclosed. Morubel's 14,000 square meter plant in Ostend, Belgium, has a production capacity of 18,000 metric tonnes for frozen seafood, retail, and bulk packaging, moreover the opportunity for increased growth.

Glenn Cooke has welcomed the new members of the Cooke in Belgium family who will help in its European expansion.  "We're very excited to welcome Morubel's 100 employees to Cooke", he said. "The plant staff, sales and management are exceptional, and they have formed longstanding customer relationships by being a flexible and reliable supplier with consistently high quality and short delivery times". Judging by the company's recent moves, such as the attempted takeover of the Australian salmon and shrimp producer Tassal Group, this will certainly not be the last we hear about the Canadian giant's expansion.

About Cooke Inc. & Bencis Capital Partners

The Cooke family of businesses includes international divisions for aquaculture, such as its wholly-owned subsidiary Cooke Aquaculture Inc. and Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd., as well as seafood and wild fishery divisions under Cooke Seafood USA, Inc., Wanchese Fish Company, Inc., Omega Protein Corporation, Cooke Uruguay S.A., and Seajoy Seafood Corporation, one of the biggest premium shrimp farms in Latin America. Cooke was recently named as one of the Top 25 Seafood Suppliers in North America for Sustainability & Conservation. Globally, the company harvests and sells 30% wild seafood and 70% farmed seafood and has in-market European sales representatives.

Bencis, which acquired Morubel in 2014, is an independent investment firm that supports business owners and management teams in achieving their growth ambitions. With offices in Amsterdam, Brussels and Düsseldorf, Bencis has invested in strong and successful companies in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany since 1999.