Biscuit maker Unibic hunts for white knight as creditors seek wind-up order

Biscuit maker Unibic is seeking a last-minute deal with a new investor to stave off a wind-up order from creditors, amid warnings food manufacturers are suffering from the high Australian dollar and an aggressive push into private labels by the supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles.

According to The Age, the Victoria-based maker of Anzac and home-brand biscuits says higher ingredient costs and the difficult retail environment have rattled the company.

The company is now family-owned and employs about 170 people after being sold by Lazard. It has a multimillion-dollar biscuit and cake building in the northern Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows that is only a couple of years old. Its chief executive Michael Quinn told The Age that since the building was opened, commodity prices have surged by 60%.

Quinn was also quoted in June last year saying that the company was looking for a strategic investor to help it boost exports to Asia.

“We’re caught in a bit of a squeeze with the raw material supply situation together with a very competitive retail environment. It makes it very difficult to operate without a reinvention of the business,” Quinn told Bloomberg.

An application to wind up the company was filed earlier this month by creditors, which include suppliers and Labourpower Recruitment Services, but Quinn told The Age the case was “in the process of being resolved”.

Unibic was contacted for comment this morning, but did not respond before publication.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council, which represents grocery manufacturers, has previously warned that the sector is being hit by the higher Australian dollar and the price wars between supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles.

The news comes as the food processing and packaging company BlueLeaf Food Group was placed into administration this week.

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