South Australian wholesale bakery Balfours has been acquired by Aus Pie Co, opening a new chapter for the 170-year-old enterprise, its employees, and the state’s emblematic Frog Cake.
Balfours will reportedly move under the Aus Pie Co banner in August, joining Western Australian brand Mrs Mac’s in the company’s growing portfolio.
Speaking to 7NEWS, Aus Pie Co CEO Bruce Feodoroff said the company intended to expand Balfours’ horizons beyond the South Australian market.
Feodoroff did not discount the possibility of redundancies at the company, which has factory operations in Adelaide’s Dudley Park and two cafes across the city.
“We don’t know what we don’t know,” he told the network.
“We’ll get in there over the next month before we take the acquisition on and just work out how we run the business to get it to be the iconic brand with strength and profitability.”
Aus Pie Co will take over Balfours from its current owners, the San Remo pasta company, which pulled the bakery from financial hardship in 2008.
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In a statement provided to 7NEWS, San Remo said it was appropriate to move on from Balfours so the company could focus on its core product range and international opportunities.
Balfours was founded in 1853 by Scottish migrants James Calder and his wife Margaret, née Balfour, who established a bakery in what would become Adelaide’s central business district.
Originally famed for its biscuits, the company transitioned into cakes and pies through the 19th Century.
Perhaps its most recognisable innovation came in 1924 with the advent of the Frog Cake — a cubic spongecake topped with cream and covered in green fondant, cut and iced to resemble a smiling frog.
The National Trust declared the Frog Cake was a state icon in 2004, demonstrating the strikingly sweet cake’s oddball popularity and longevity.
While the Frog Cake evolved into something of a cult favourite in South Australia, Balfours closed most of its cafes towards the end of the millennium.
Its acquisition by San Remo in 2008 “meant the survival of a much-loved brand and the continuing distribution of Balfour’s traditional cakes and pastry products in convenience stores, sporting venues, schools and supermarkets,” the company website claims.
The sale to Aus Pie Co marks the latest in a flurry of acquisition activity for the makers of Australian baked goods.
Beyond the Mrs Mac’s purchase, Hong Kong-based investment firm PAG acquired both Four’N Twenty pies and Nanna’s baked goods in late 2022.