Forward Foods, LLC Acquires Detour Protein Bars

CARLSBAD, Calif., Sept 18, 2006 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Forward Foods, LLC and NEXT Proteins, Inc. -- a 14-year industry leader in developing whey based products, including Designer Whey Protein Powder and the Detour Protein Bar -- today announced the sale of NEXT's protein bar business to Forward Foods.
Forward Foods was formed by senior food industry executives, key managers of NEXT's bar business, and New York private investment firm, Emigrant Capital, to acquire Detour.

Established in 1991 to emerge as a leading producer of a full-line of whey protein products under the Designer Whey brand, NEXT Proteins is recognized as an authority on the many advantages and functional applications of whey. The company has invested approximately $7 million in whey research and clinical testing since it was founded by U.K. Olympic medalist, David Jenkins, who continues to serve as chief executive officer.

According to Forward Foods' Chief Executive Officer Patrick Muldoon, the new company will focus on further developing the popular Detour bar line to gain share in the fast growing segment of on-the-go nutrition.
"We are thrilled by the Detour brand line-up of protein bars, as well as its unique proprietary manufacturing platform," said Muldoon, a consumer products veteran with extensive experience in optimizing and building brands and driving accelerated growth in branded food products. "Our extensive resources will assure the highest industry level of product quality and taste, as well as enable us to constantly innovate utilizing the technology and flexibility of our production facility to deliver the freshest and most functional bars in the market."

He added, "The Detour brand is well positioned for accelerated growth for many reasons. It's the leading bar in the Health and Fitness retail channel; retail innovators such as GNC, Vitamin World and Vitamin Shoppe rank the Detour brand No. 1 in sales. Detour is also the fastest moving product line, as measured by units sold per store in the Convenience Store Channel. In addition, the bar continues to gain positive recognition and accolades, including the Men's Health magazine June 2006 award for America's No. 1 Protein Bar."
Emigrant Capital Executive Partner Val Stalowir commented, "This is an exciting acquisition because it provides us with an excellent platform from which to expand our efforts in the functional and better-for-you, on-the-go food and beverages category. Our investment philosophy centers on backing strong management teams with best in class products competing in categories tied to growing consumer trends. The Detour offering straddles both consumers' interests in finding superior sources of protein while addressing active and on-the-go lifestyles without sacrificing great taste."

Stalowir, a former Quaker Oats and Coca-Cola Company executive, who joins Forward Foods as Chairman, said the investment and management team is committed to doubling the Detour business in the short-term so that it becomes a preferred source of convenient nutrition. "We're also very pleased to have David Jenkins' commitment, financially and through intellectual capital, to work with us in growing Detour," he said.
Commenting on the transaction, David Jenkins said, "I'm delighted to have found a strong team in Forward Foods and Emigrant Capital to take ownership and great stewardship of our bar division. With the superior nutritional and functional characteristics of whey incorporated into the Detour bars, we have enjoyed tremendous growth and success. The vast expertise and resources of the Forward Foods and Emigrant Capital team will help Detour realize its significant potential in terms of product and sales beyond anything it's experienced to date." Jenkins will also maintain an investment stake in Forward Foods and will continue to have a role in the company's product development, as well as whey research and education initiatives.
Jenkins explained that Designer Whey, the signature brand that launched the success of his whey protein company, would continue to be developed by NEXT. "Together with Forward Foods, we're focused on promoting the scientific research that points to whey's numerous benefits. We're also looking at ways to introduce the whey experience to new consumers and new markets, taking whey protein beyond a health and fitness niche to becoming a lifestyle ingredient and product. I'm looking forward to engaging in these efforts in support of the Detour bars, while also meeting Designer Whey's vision of providing premium products that help consumers meet their personal goals. This is a very exciting time for all of us."

About Forward Foods
Forward Foods, LLC manufactures and markets high protein, snack, energy and meal replacement bars primarily under the Detour brand. Since the introduction of the original bar in October 2002, Detour has grown into a $50MM retail brand platform and is the leading high protein brand in health and fitness stores. Detour revolutionized the high protein bar category by being the first to utilize candy bar technology and formulation to create a truly "great tasting" high protein bar. Beyond dominating the sophisticated and demanding high protein consumer in health and fitness stores, the brand has now expanded to more mainstream channels including food grocery, drug store, mass merchant, club and convenience stores. For more information on the complete line of great tasting, high protein Detour products, visit .

About Emigrant Capital
Emigrant Capital is a private investment firm that offers middle market companies the capital and resources they need to realize their full potential. Through its experience as a successful deal sponsor and the talents of its executive partners, Emigrant provides not only the optimal capital structure, but also a wealth of resources to help ensure success. For more information, please visit .

About NEXT Proteins
Since 1991, NEXT Proteins has led the development of leading whey protein brand, Designer Whey, which powers innovative, great tasting products such as Designer Whey Protein Powders and the top selling Detour Protein Bar. Recognized as the authority on the many advantages of whey-based products, NEXT Proteins has invested close to $7 million in whey research and clinical testing. For more information on the wonders of whey and a complete line of products, visit or .

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