TORONTO, Oct 12, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- SunOpta Inc. (STKL) (CA:SOY) today announced that the formation of the SunOpta Fruit Group, based in Los Angeles, California, has been completed. The SunOpta Fruit Group will be a leading supplier of quality frozen fruit-based products to the private label, food service and industrial markets in North America. The newly-formed Fruit Group, consisting of the combination and integration of Organic Ingredients Inc., Cleugh's Frozen Foods Inc. and Pacific Fruit Processors, Inc., all based in California, will generate total annualized revenues of approximately $100 million.
Sergio Varela, President of the SunOpta Fruit Group, said, "The integration of these three established businesses will enable us to become a dominant player in the natural and organic North American frozen fruit market. This is a large and rapidly growing market driven by consumers that are dedicated to making nutritional choices that will improve their health and their quality of life. With industry analysts estimating that the U.S. natural and organic food markets will reach $14.5 billion this year and will grow to $30.7 billion by 2007, this integration provides us the opportunity to become a leading competitor in this exciting market."
Organic Ingredients, Inc., a supplier of organic private label products with significant expertise in sourcing fruits and vegetables worldwide, has experienced annual revenue growth in excess of 75% since SunOpta's acquisition of 51% of the company in September 2004. (SunOpta acquired the remaining 49% of Organic Ingredients in April, 2005.) The company's growth is being driven by the addition of a number of new private label contracts, including contracts to supply organic fruit juices to several major retailers in the U.S. which are expected to generate approximately $5 million in annualized revenue. Organic Ingredients is also planning to launch a new line of natural and organic Italian-style sparkling sodas and flavored waters for the branded and private label markets in North America.
Cleugh's Frozen Foods, a supplier of frozen fruits to the private label, food service and industrial markets, with annualized with revenues in excess of $50 million, is also experiencing significant growth in the private label sector. Anticipating additional growth, the company recently installed new polybag packaging equipment to improve yields and increase polybag capacity by 30%. In addition, the company is implementing a number of efficiency measures and assessing expansion projects to better serve its customers.
Pacific Fruit Processors, a supplier of fruit bases for the dairy, bakery and beverage markets, with annualized revenues of approximately $20 million, has recently completed the expansion of its frozen storage capabilities. The newly-built 10,000 square foot freezer is expected to generate considerable savings related to freight and third party warehousing. Over the past few months, Pacific has been experiencing significant growth in a number of applications for its fruit bases, including yogurts, smoothies and bakery products, with particular focus on organic products.
About SunOpta Inc.
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.
Certain statements included in this press release may constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to references to business strategies, competitive strengths, goals, capital expenditure plans, business and operational growth plans and references to the future growth of the business. These forward looking statements are based on certain assumptions and analyses made by the Company in light of its experience and its interpretation of current conditions, historical trends and expected future developments as well as other factors that the Company believes are appropriate in the circumstance. However, whether actual results and developments will agree with expectations and predications of the Company is subject to many risks and uncertainties including, but not limited to; general economic, business or market risk conditions; competitive actions by other companies; changes in laws or regulations or policies of local governments, provinces and states as well as the governments of United States and Canada, many of which are beyond the control of the Company. Consequently all forward-looking statements made herein are qualified by these cautionary statements and there can be no assurance that the actual results or developments anticipated by the Company will be realized.