Hain acquires kosher poultry company

by Eric Schroeder
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LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y. — The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. said it has paid $57.6 million for the remaining 80% of EK Holdings, Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Empire Kosher Poultry, Inc. that it did not already own. The acquisition brings into Hain’s fold Kosher Valley, which Empire bought in May 2010 from Hain Pure Protein Corp. Kosher Valley is the first brand of certified kosher antibiotic-free, vegetarian fed and humanely raised all natural branded chicken and turkey products.

Mifflintown, Pa.-based Empire offers a full range of kosher antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken and turkey products, including fresh tray pack, frozen, deli, fully cooked, gluten-free and organic products in the United States as well as the Kosher Valley brand sold exclusively in Whole Foods Market.  Empire generated more than $100 million in net sales in calendar year 2014 and is expected to be accretive to Hain Celestial’s earnings in fiscal year 2016.

“We are excited with our strategic acquisition of Empire, the leading kosher, antibiotic-free poultry brand in the United States and welcome Jeff Brown and the Empire team to Hain Celestial,” said Irwin D. Simon, founder, president and chief executive officer of Hain. “Empire expands our farm to table product offerings, a growing category that appeals to those seeking ‘the pure foods trend,’ including our core natural and organic consumers. We plan to expand the product offerings into deli, fresh prepared foods and other grocery categories. Additionally, we expect to leverage our infrastructure to create revenue and procurement synergies, and we paid an attractive price considering the multiples being paid for antibiotic-free protein companies today.

Mr. Brown, c.e.o. of Empire, will continue to be responsible for the day-to-day operations of Empire, reporting to Mr. Simon.

“Empire products appeal to a broad market of consumers, not just those seeking our brand and products to observe dietary customs,” Mr. Brown said. “As the No. 1 kosher producer of humanely raised hormone-free and antibiotic-free poultry, I’m pleased to be able to continue the heritage of Empire under the stewardship of Hain Celestial, where we feel we can leverage opportunities to expand our distribution.”

Mr. Simon called Empire a “strong brand” with “a lot of experience.”

“Empire should leverage Hain Celestial’s knowhow and infrastructure to pursue new categories and kosher product offerings,” Mr. Simon said.

Hain Celestial has more than 2,000 products that are kosher certified in its branded portfolio of natural and organic products.
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