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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Dagoba, Natrol in buyout deals

The Hershey Co. has acquired Dagoba Organic Chocolate, based in Ashland, Ore. Dagoba is known for its natural and organic chocolate products sold in natural foods outlets and gourmet stores. The acquisition is part of Hershey's focus on the high-growth premium chocolate segment. Dagoba will join Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker and Joseph Schmidt Confections in Hershey's wholly owned subsidiary, Artisan Confections Co.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but analyst Scott Van Winkle, managing director at Canaccord Adams, said he thought the deal would be somewhere between $10 million and $15 million. "I'm guessing that that's about what sales were, and right now [acquisitions are] at onetimes [annual] sales." Frederick Schilling, founder and chief executive officer of Dagoba, said the acquisition would provide an opportunity for the company to reach more consumers. He also praised Hershey. "Hershey's deep commitment to quality and sustainability throughout its supply chain will help Dagoba improve and expand its mission of improving cacao farmers' livelihoods and expanding organic farming methods."

An acquisition in the nutritional market took place as well. Chatsworth, Calif.-based Natrol announced the acquisition of Nu Hair and Shen Min from Biotech Corp. in Glastonbury, Conn.

The Shen Min brand includes supplement and topical hair regrowth products that are sold primarily within the health food channel. Nu Hair has similar lines that are sold in the conventional and mass markets.

"This acquisition of the successful Nu Hair and Shen Min brands supports one of Natrol's key objectives: strategic acquisitions," Wayne M. Bos, president and chief executive officer of Natrol said in a release. "Addition of the brands will provide Natrol the opportunity to expand in the hair-growth category for natural products."

Natrol also announced it had licensed the U.S. rights to red-clover-based dietary supplements Promensil and Trinovin from the Australian biotechnology company Novogen Ltd.

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