Fresh talk of Harvey icon's sale

Peter KlingerThe West Australian

It is all happening in Harvey, though one of the South West town's iconic businesses, Harvey Fresh, was yesterday refusing to discuss industry speculation it could follow Harvey Beef in being sold to overseas interests.

A spokesman for the family-owned dairy and juice processor would not comment on talk in east coast media circles that Italian giant Parmalat was in prime position to swoop on Harvey Fresh.

The Sorgiovanni, Bonavita and Scolara families have regularly attracted unsolicited bids for Harvey Fresh and it is understood there is no formal sales process under way for the 27-year-old business.

But Parmalat's reported interest comes amid heightened corporate activity in Australia's agribusiness sector, including the expected sale of the private equity-owned Harvey Beef, the State's biggest beef producer and exporter, to a Japanese group backed by Marubeni.

Harvey Fresh is one of WA's three big milk producers, alongside the private equity-owned Brownes and Lion, which owns the Masters and Pura brands.

Its most recent available financial results, for the year to June 30, 2011, declare that Harvey Fresh enjoyed a 22 per cent increase in revenue to $124.8 million for a pre-tax profit of $7.8 million and net profit of $5.5 million.

Parmalat already owns the Pauls dairy brand and last month broke into the WA flavoured milk market with the Oak product.

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails