U.S. food firm buys Canadian fruit packer with European name

A New York organic food firm is the new owner of a well-known Canadian frozen-fruit processor whose brand name crosses the Atlantic.

The Canadian subsidiary of Melville, N.Y.-based Hain Celestial Group has bought all assets and business of the Europe’s Best brand from its most recent owner, the Canadian arm of U.S. jam giant J.M. Smucker, for an undisclosed sum.

“Our entry into this growing $385 million Canadian category of frozen fruits and vegetables complements our product offerings while providing us with a new category for potential growth,” Hain CEO Irwin Simon said in a release Wednesday.

“With this strategic acquisition we plan to expand Europe’s Best product lines into other channels of distribution in North America, and we will leverage the talented team we have in place at Hain Celestial Canada.”

Europe’s Best, whose head office was moved from Montreal in 2008 to the Smucker offices at Markham, Ont., touts itself as the top brand of “premium, all-natural” frozen fruit in Canada.

The company sells its cut products in resealable, stand-up retail pouches and in larger club store bags, including raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, sliced and whole strawberries, pineapple, mango, asparagus, baby corn, beans and small carrots, among others, as well as several bagged blends.

Its name notwithstanding, Europe’s Best says it sources fruit and vegetables from around the world, sorting, cleaning and freezing produce after harvest using its Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) process, flash-freezing individual pieces of fresh fruits and vegetables in transit on conveyor belts.

The company’s branded lines currently include 24 fruit and vegetable products distributed in Canada. In recent years Europe’s Best has promoted the bagged, cut frozen fruits as convenient for use in smoothie drinks.

“Cross-promote”

Hain Celestial, meanwhile, makes and markets various “natural” and organic food, personal care and cleaning products sold in North America and Europe, with a brand roster including Celestial Seasonings, Earth’s Best, Terra Chips, MaraNatha, Hain Pure Foods, The Greek Gods, Grains Noirs, Zia Natural Skincare and Alba Botanica, among others.

Worldwide, Hain made $54.98 million profit on $1.13 billion in sales in its year ending June 30, up from $28.62 million on $917.3 million in its fiscal 2010.

Its Canadian arm’s holdings include a leased Toronto-area distribution centre, plus a wholly-owned Vancouver processing plant where it makes Yves Veggie Cuisine soy-based meat alternative products.

“We plan to cross-promote Europe’s Best with other Hain Celestial brands to create healthier eating options including smoothies and yogurt,” Hain Celestial Canada president Beena Goldenberg said in Wednesday’s release.

“We also expect to expand into organic fruits and vegetables and drive multi-brand growth with product extensions and on-the-go product offerings.”

Related story:

Smucker buys Europe’s Best, March 4, 2008

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