The Hain Celestial Group will expand its presence in the frozen food aisle with its acquisition of the Ethnic Gourmet and Rosetto Italian lines from conventional food giant Heinz. The acquisition was met with approval by natural food retailers and will likely produce expansions in both product lines.
In conjunction with the acquisition, Hain hired Matthew Cooper as general manager of frozen foods. Cooper was previously Heinz' director of marketing, growth channels, where he was responsible for frozen foods.
"This will bring [to Hain] a man with a prudent track record in frozen foods and a knowledge base in these operations," said Hain spokesman Jeremy Fielding, of Cooper.
Sonja Tuitele, spokeswoman for Boulder, Colo.-based Wild Oats Markets, said Hain's move is good for the natural and organic foods industry. "We get concerned when it's the other way around," she said, citing fears that a conventional company might not maintain the quality of natural or organic products. But in this case, she said, "We know they are going to be true to natural and organic values."
The two frozen food lines, which Hain will officially acquire in the first fiscal year after the closing, produced $30 million in sales for Heinz in 2003. Fielding said Hain will expand the variety of products in the two lines.
Hain's acquisition brings an opportunity for the company to introduce co-branded low carbohydrate dinners and pastas under the CarbFit and Rosetto names, said Irwin Simon, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Hain Celestial, in a statement.