Princes making waves in Heinz's Indian waters Takeover will put country into the top league of producers Clive Beddall Two weeks after netting Oxbridge Foods, a major rival in the £312m canned fish market, Princes Foods has strengthened its role as a tuna supplier by taking over the sole Mauritius based canning operation. The move brings the group into closer conflict with Heinz which, in recent years, has also been expanding its tuna production facilities, in particular in Ghana and Mauritius' Indian Ocean neighbour, the Seychelles. In the deal, Princes heads a consortium of investors taking ownership of Mauritius Tuna Fishing and Canning Enterprises Ltd (MTFCE), one of the world's leading packers. John Mutch, Princes Group md and chief executive, said: "The takeover is important as major retail customers are seeking suppliers who can minimise costs and maximise production facilities by eliminating unnecessary elements of the supply chain." The deal is also important to Princes as it guarantees production from one of the most strategically important regions for tuna. Plans have already been made for a significant investment in a new canning plant in Mauritius that will double the company's current capacity and effectively move the country into the top league of producers. Tuna has been an important part of the Mauritian economy for 30 years. The island enjoys preferential duty access into the EU under the Lomé Convention treaty. MTFCE has supplied Princes for a number of years, but it became a primary supplier in 1989 when the Liverpool company was acquired by Mitsubishi. Canned tuna is the flagship of Princes' trading division and the company says the recent relaunch of its tuna range led to a 40% increase in branded sales. Senior Princes executives have been seconded to Mauritius to manage the transition and future development. Md of the new company ­ Princes Tuna (Mauritius) ­ is Nick Spruyt, who was the firm's deputy buying director. - See Provisions {{NEWS }}