Natural Foods Merchandiser

Cadbury buys Green & Blacks

Boosting its presence in the upscale artisan chocolate marketplace, British sweets and drinks maker Cadbury Schweppes plc has acquired organic chocolate maker Green & Black?s. The transaction is estimated to be worth $40 million.

Cadbury?s purchase of Green & Black?s was the largest of three transactions announced last week. Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy closed a $7.5 million funding round and NOW Foods announced the acquisition for an unspecified sum of Burnham Labs, a formulator and private-label manufacturer of personal care products and cosmetics.

With an estimated $45 million in sales in 2004 and a growth rate of 69 percent, Green & Black?s is the fastest-growing confectionery brand in the United Kingdom, according to ACNielsen, where it holds a 5.1 percent market share in the block chocolate subcategory. It also is growing in the United States, though no figures were available by press time. In the U.K., Green & Black?s offers organic ice cream, cookies and baking ingredients as well as its chocolate, so named because it is ?green? in organic origin and nearly ?black? in color.

Founded in 1991 by husband-and-wife team Craig Sams (chair of the U.K.?s Soil Association) and Jo Fairley, the company sold an 80 percent stake in the company in 1999 to an investor group. Cadbury has owned a 5 percent share of Green & Black?s since 2002 and also owns the Snapple and Nantucket Nectars brands.

Neither the management team nor Green & Black?s commitment to fair trade sources will change, according to the companies. ?Cadbury Schweppes intends Green & Blacks to run as a stand-alone business, so it?s very much business as usual,? spokeswoman Debbie Feickert said.

On Tuesday, Green & Black?s Chief Executive William Kendall responded to criticism that the chocolate maker had sold out to a multinational. ?We are clear that if you believe, as we do, that organic production and getting a fair deal for farmers can begin to solve many of the world?s biggest problems, then you have to win over governments and big business,? he said in a statement posted on the company?s Web site. ?We emphatically do not believe that access to organic food and ethical trade should be the preserve of a small elite. We do not have time for prejudice at Green & Black?s and this includes a prejudice that all big companies and the people who work for them are bad.?

Cadbury Schweppes was voted the most-admired company in the U.K. by its peers. The founding Cadbury family, who were Quakers, promoted social justice and an end to poverty. According to the Times of London, in the early 1900s the company shifted cocoa sourcing from Angola and other Portuguese territories to the Gold Coast, now Ghana, over concerns about slave labor.

In other financial news, Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy Inc. completed a $7.5 million private equity round, bringing its total capitalization to more than $40 million. The Boulder, Colo., chain now operates 11 pharmacies in Colorado, California, Oregon, New Mexico and Washington.

Pharmaca will use the money to open more locations and to hire a chief operating officer and other senior managers. Ron Brill, former chief administrative officer and member of the board of directors of Home Depot, has joined the Pharmaca board.

NOW Foods of Bloomingdale, Ill., acquired Burnham Labs, one of its contract suppliers and a formulator and private label manufacturer in Niles, Ill. ?They?re very good with new products, good at making small runs and formulations,? said Dan Richard, sales manager at NOW. Burnham?s former owners, John and Soo Chang, will consult to NOW as Burnham phases out synthetic ingredients and expands its natural capabilities.

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