Despite a disappointing quarter for its U.S. business, natural and organic products company Hain Celestial Group posted record first-quarter sales and earnings thanks to the diversification of its business and the continuing evolution of consumer food preferences.
The company, which owns brands including Arrowhead Mills, Celestial Seasonings and Spectrum, is becoming “more channel agnostic,” according to founder and CEO Irwin Simon. Its business with Amazon was up 39 percent last quarter, and Hain also has fast-growing e-commerce business with chains including Walmart, Target and Kroger.
Net sales for the company as a whole were up 9 percent for the quarter to $687.2 million, with adjusted earnings per diluted share of $0.30. Sales dipped 4.6 percent in the U.S. from the first quarter of last year, which management attributed to natural channel softness and challenges in the grocery unit. The MaraNatha brand is still recovering from a nut butter recall issued last year, while the Spectrum brand is facing competition from lower-priced organic coconut oil products, said John Carroll, executive vice president and CEO of the company’s North America unit.
Meanwhile, Hain saw good growth in Greek yogurt, antibiotic-free and organic protein, meat-free and plant-based products, chilled soups in Ireland and the UK, fresh cold-press juices and fresh desserts.
Sales of personal care products were up double-digits, led by the Alba Botanica and Jason brands, Simon said. The Hain Pure Protein business, which comprises the FreeBird and Plainville Farms antibiotic-free poultry brands, also saw double-digit growth.
Hain has focused on diversifying and expanding its geographic footprint through acquisition, including the July purchase of plant-based food and beverage company Mona Group and its facilities in Germany and Austria. Thirty-seven percent of Hain’s sales are generated internationally, Simon said.
“We believe the M&A environment remains attractive,” Simon said. “We’re always actively evaluating deals in the marketplace.”
The company also announced a minority stake investment in fast-casual chain Chopt Creative Salad Co., which Simon said aligns strongly with Hain’s mission. Chopt serves products from Hain’s FreeBird Chicken, BluePrint Juice and Terra Chip brands.