Hain will buy the Ethnic Gourmet brand of natural ethnic frozen meals and the Rosetto brand of frozen Italian products from H.J. Heinz, in a deal expected to be accretive in the first fiscal year following closing. The brands had combined annual sales of approximately $30 million in 2003.
The company also said it had reached an agreement with Sesame Workshop, a nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, to create co-branded natural food products for children, including cereals, snacks, cookies and crackers, under the Earth's Best brand using Sesame Street characters.
Terms of both transactions were not disclosed.
The Heinz sale will add to Hain's other frozen food brands, such as Rice Dream and Soy Dream frozen desserts, Kineret frozen foods and frozen entrees offered under the Hain brand, creating a $45-50 million presence in the frozen food category, and a platform for further growth in this expanding category, said Hain.
The company has recruited a former Heinz marketing director, Matthew Cooper, to become general manager of frozen foods.
Irwin D. Simon, chairman, president and chief executive officer of HainCelestial, said: "We expect to build further on these successful brands, introducing new natural offerings in thefrozen aisle and ensuring that consumers who want frozen natural products that taste good will have an expanded choice of meal options."
"In particular, webelieve there is an excellent opportunity to introduce co-branded lowcarbohydrate dinners and pastas under CarbFit and Rosetto," added the company.
Hain previously bought the Earth's Best organic baby food brand from Heinz in 1999, which is now growing at double-digit rates. At that time, Heinz also purchased a minority stake inHain, and presently owns 16.7 per cent of Hain's outstanding shares of common stock.
The relationship with Sesame Workshop is part of the organization's newly launched 'Healthy Habitsfor Life' initiative, a preventive effort to address theproblem of childhood obesity using Sesame Street.