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Lunar enters Chinese walnut drink market with Sichuan Zhiqiang buy

21 Mar 2012

China-focused private equity firm Lunar Capital Management has bought a controlling interest in walnut flavoured drink pioneers Sichuan Zhiqiang.

The firm said it will appoint its partner Derek Sulger as chairman following the deal, hold a majority on the board of directors and name another of its partners as CEO.

Lunar and Sichuan’s original shareholders will form a new joint venture corporation called Sichuan Zhiqiang Food to hold the company’s assets.

Sichuan, nicknamed the ‘King of Walnuts’ in China, is renowned among parents and children in the country for its Joysun brand of walnut powder.

Walnut drinks are among the most popular milk and vegetable protein-based beverages in the country due to the cultural belief they boost brain power.

Sulger said “We believe that the power of the Chinese consumer will continue to outpace the generally-accepted assumptions, particularly the rise of the consumer in central and western China.

“As a well-known domestic brand Joysun Zhiqiang possesses a distinguished track record, has strong customer relationships and enjoys widespread brand recognition among consumers.”

The wider walnut industry in China has become increasingly important to its domestic economy, with the country emerging as one of the world’s largest producers over the past decade.

The high-value cash crop has played a key role in improving living standards of local farmers and helped advance regional economies, particularly in Western China.

Shanghai-based Lunar recently bought a controlling stake in babywear maker China Yeehoo Group.

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