TORONTO, Jul 13, 2005 (CCNMatthews via COMTEX) -- SunOpta Inc. (SunOpta or the Company) (STKL) (CA:SOY) today announced that it has completed the acquisition of the outstanding shares of Pacific Fruit Processors, Inc. ("Pacific"), located in South Gate, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. The undisclosed purchase price includes a combination of cash and notes payable.
Pacific is a manufacturer of value-added fruit products with a focus on fruit-based ingredients for the dairy, bakery and beverage industries. The company offers custom-formulated fruit-based ingredient solutions to its customers, providing unique flavor and texture profiles for a wide range of specialized applications. Pacific operates from a 60,000 square foot facility that houses conventional and aseptic processing capabilities, dry and frozen warehousing space and laboratory facilities. State-of-the-art research and development capabilities are integral to Pacific's continuing success and a key ingredient in Pacific's reputable quality and customer service. Sales of organic fruit ingredients represent 25% of the company's approximate US$20 million in annualized revenues, and at a growth rate in excess of 20% per year, represent Pacific's fastest growing product segment.
Michael Jacobs, President of Pacific, commented that "the opportunity to partner with SunOpta, a company that shares our goals and values and possesses extensive integrated sourcing and technical ingredient expertise, strengthens our ability to control the quality of our products and expand product offerings to our customers, particularly in the organic sector."
The acquisition of Pacific augments SunOpta's vertically integrated fruit operations by adding further capabilities to the Company's existing fruit-based operations. As a result, SunOpta has formed a new operating group, the SunOpta Fruit Group, consisting of the Company's wholly-owned subsidiaries Organic Ingredients Inc. ("OI"), Cleugh's Frozen Foods, Inc. ("Cleugh's") and Pacific. These integrated businesses form a platform from which the Company can meet virtually any fruit specifications for its retail, food service or industrial customers. The Group's sourcing, production, packaging and research and development capabilities are unparalleled in the organic fruit market. The Group's annualized revenues are approximately US$100 million.
Steve Bromley, President and COO of SunOpta Inc., stated, "We continue to pursue our mission of providing consumers healthier food alternatives, with a focus on expanding the availability of certified organic ingredients and packaged products in the marketplace. Today's announcements further support our stated goals and expand our capabilities in this sector."
Mr. Bromley also announced the appointment of Sergio Varela to the role of President of the SunOpta Fruit Group. Mr. Varela has held a number of finance and operating positions with the Company since he joined SunOpta in early 2002. His current positions of Vice President, Operations and Business Development and CFO of the SunOpta Ingredients Group will be transitioned over the coming months. Mr. Varela will relocate his residence to California, the center of the Company's vertically integrated fruit operations, in the third quarter.
"I am extremely excited about this opportunity and look forward to leveraging the significant capabilities of these operations," stated Mr. Varela. "The vertical integration of these businesses positions the Group for strong growth as demand for organic products expands throughout the mainstream consumer market."
In addition to Mr. Varela, the SunOpta Fruit Group management team will consist of seasoned professionals with over 50 years of food industry experience. The management team will include Joseph Stern, President of OI, Michael Jacobs, President of Pacific and Michael Cleugh, President of Cleugh's. In addition to his role within the SunOpta Fruit Group, Mr. Stern will continue to lead SunOpta's development of worldwide food ingredient sourcing capabilities, with a primary focus on expanding and hedging sourcing of organic ingredients in geographically diverse regions.
Further information on Pacific Fruit Processors, Inc. is available on their website at www.pacificfruit.com.
SunOpta Inc. is an operator of high-growth ethical businesses, focusing on integrated business models in the natural and organic food markets. For the last seven consecutive years, SunOpta was included in Profit magazine's 'Profit 100' list of the 100 fastest growing companies in Canada. The Company has three business units: the SunOpta Food Group, which specializes in sourcing, processing and distribution of natural and organic food products integrated from seed through packaged products; the Opta Minerals Group, a producer, distributor, and recycler of environmentally friendly industrial materials; and the StakeTech Steam Explosion Group which engineers and markets proprietary steam explosion technology systems for the pulp, bio-fuel and food processing industries. Each of these business units has proprietary products and services that give it a solid competitive advantage in its sector.