MILAN (Reuters) - Italian food company Barilla and Unilever's brand Algida have signed a strategic partnership to sell ice cream and snacks in Italy, the two groups said on Tuesday.
Barilla, whose Gocciole biscuits are the best sellers in Italy, said the partnership would increase demand for its cookie and snack brands especially in the summer season.
It will also help the group be more competitive in selling both sweet and salted snacks in the out-of-home channels where it competes with large foreign groups and chocolate confectioner Ferrero.
"We are convinced that the ice cream market offers interesting prospects and we know that we have brands and products that are of great interest to the Italian consumer," Barilla's Head of Italy Region Francesco Del Porto said.
"Our ambition is also to be increasingly present in the out-of-home sector, thanks to the Unilever Group, which has very long experience and an extensive distribution network."
Ice creams developed together with Cornetto-seller Algida will build on the successful launch of Barilla's cookies filled with chocolate spread and the sale of cereal bars, which have built the Parma-based group's presence in the snack segment.
The partnership will be operational from January 2022 and will initially cover Italy, with the aim of expanding to other European countries, the two groups said.
For Unilever the agreement is an opportunity to offer new products in a sector that is increasingly competitive.
In 2017 Unilever clinched a similar alliance with Barilla's rival Ferrero, helping the confectioner enter the frozen sweet sector both in Italy and abroad.
(Reporting by Francesca Landini; editing by Barbara Lewis)