The Competition authorities have given Pioneer Foods the green light to acquire a majority share of premier fruit juice company Ceres.

Pioneer, which bought a 37.5% share four years ago, now has a 75% share. It cost the company R146 million (US$23m) according to MD, Andre Hanekom. The remaining 25% of the shares belong to KWV, which acquired them in the mid-1990s, and declined an offer to sell.

Previously Ceres concentrated on long-life fruit juices, but recently launched a range of Ceres sparkling fruit juices, which Hanekom says is meeting sales expectations at this early stage.

He said this was part of Pioneer's ambition to grow Ceres, which he said had definite potential, but would retain its structure following the share acquisition.