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Campbell to acquire kids nutrition company Plum Organics

BY Jason Owen

CAMDEN, N.J. — Campbell Soup Company today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Plum Organics, a provider of premium organic foods and snacks that serve the nutritional needs of babies, toddlers and children.

The company, based in Emeryville, Calif., is the No. 2 brand of organic baby food in the U.S. and the No. 4 baby food brand overall.

The acquisition of Plum Organics will provide Campbell with an attractive platform to extend its core categories of simple meals, snacks and beverages and enhance its access to a new generation of consumers. Plum’s products have strong distribution in key customer channels, including online and  natural and baby specialty outlets. With the addition of Plum Organics’ products, Campbell’s portfolio of kid-focused soups, beverages and snacks will have annual sales of more than $1 billion.

Baby food is an approximately $2 billion category in the United States. From 2010 to 2012, the premium and organic segments grew at an average annual rate of 43%.

Denise Morrison, Campbell’s president and CEO, said, "Plum Organics’ nutritious, on-trend products are a great addition to our North American portfolio of leading brands. The acquisition will help deliver on our dual mandate to strengthen our core businesses and to expand into faster-growing categories and adjacencies. It represents another step toward our long-term goal of shifting Campbell’s center of gravity."

Plum, started in 2007 by co-founder Neil Grimmer, has used rapid innovation to launch more than 150 products for babies, toddlers and kids in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Top Plum products include organic baby food in convenient squeezable pouches; "Super Puffs," a line of bite-sized nutritious puffed snacks; "Plum Mighty Four," a new line of nutritious toddler snack pouches and "Plum Kids" ‘Mashups,’ a line of fun squeezable fruit, veggies and Greek yogurt.

Campbell plans to operate Plum as a standalone business within its Campbell North America division. Senior members of Plum Organics’ management team, including Grimmer, will join Campbell and continue to lead Plum and its mission-driven culture from Emeryville. As President of Plum, Grimmer will report to Mark Alexander, President of Campbell North America.

Plum Organics generated $93 million in gross sales for the year ended Dec. 31, 2012. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The acquisition will not affect Campbell’s previously-announced fiscal 2013 guidance.

Campbell will fund the acquisition through available credit. The closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions, and is expected to occur in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013.

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Court blocks Actavis asthma generic

BY Alaric DeArment

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — A federal court has blocked Actavis from distributing its generic version of a drug for treating asthma, the company said.

Actavis said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had issued an injunction against Actavis’ distribution of budesonide inhalation suspension at the request of AstraZeneca, which sells the drug under the trade name Pulmicort Respules.

Actavis launched its version of the drug in the beginning of April following a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey that it did not infringe two of AstraZeneca’s patents on the drug. The latest court decision overturns the lower court’s ruling.

Pulmicort Respules is used to control and prevent asthma symptoms in children ages 1 through 8. The drug had sales of about $1.2 billion during the 12-month period that ended in January.

 

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Kashi introduces two new vegetarian steam meal options

BY Jason Owen

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Kashi, a natural food and lifestyle company, today announced the addition of two new Steam Meal varieties: Kashi Three Cheese Ravioli and Kashi Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto. Made with the signature Kashi seven whole grain blend and tasty flavor combinations, the new vegetarian Steam Meals offer two servings per bag and provide a convenient and nourishing alternative when a from-scratch meal isn’t an option.

Kashi Three Cheese Ravioli Steam Meal serves up Kashi 7 Multigrain Pasta filled with a creamy blend of ricotta, asiago and mozzarella cheeses, combined with spinach, basil and red peppers, as well as chickpea puree topped with a zesty garlic basil Mediterranean tomato sauce. Adding a nutritious spin to a classic dish, this meal delivers 23g of whole grains, 13g of protein and 5g of fiber per serving.

Kashi Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto Steam Meal combines rich crimini mushrooms and crisp asparagus with Kashi Seven Whole Grains & Sesame  pilaf, and is tossed in a flavorful parmesan cream sauce. This hearty risotto entree provides nearly a day’s worth of recommended whole grains in one serving with 45g, 12g of protein and 7g of fiber per serving.

"Our new Kashi Steam Meals for two are delicious, good-for-you versions of traditional comfort dishes that deliver what people like most about a homemade meal: real, quality ingredients and incredible taste," said Jeff Johnson, senior nutritionist and natural food and lifestyle expert at Kashi. "Convenient and nutritious, these are must-haves for the freezer at home and in the office."

The new flavors are available in the frozen aisle of grocers and natural food retailers nationwide for a suggested retail price of $6.95.

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