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Diamond Foods to acquire Kettle Foods

BY Allison Cerra

SAN FRANCISCO Diamond Foods has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Kettle Foods, makers of premium potato chips, from Lion Capital LLP for $615 million in cash.

Diamond will acquire Kettle operations in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

As part of the agreement, Diamond will purchase all outstanding shares of the snack maker. Kettle Foods would add more than $250 million in revenues and almost double Diamond’s EBITDA, Diamond projected.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of Diamond’s fiscal year 2010, subject to customary conditions, including regulatory approval.

“Kettle Foods’ passion for making great tasting, natural potato chips has attracted a loyal consumer following and shaped a truly premium brand that has our deep respect,” said Michael Mendes, chairman, president and CEO of Diamond Foods. “Diamond and Kettle Foods share a history of relentless focus on flavor and product quality and working collaboratively with our retail partners. By adding Kettle, including its talented team of employees, our snack business will have greater scale, which will help us to drive even greater innovation in the snack market. We expect that the acquisition will be accretive in the first year and is a strong, strategic fit to better support our long-term growth plans.”

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Hellman’s uses cage-free eggs in its light mayonnaise

BY Allison Cerra

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. Mayonnaise brand Hellman’s announced its new light mayonnaise recipe will feature 100% certified cage-free eggs in the United States.

“Hellmann’s is made from real, simple ingredients — vinegar, oils rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6, and eggs,” said Jamey Fish, Hellmann’s senior brand manager. “Hellmann’s understands that people are increasingly attuned to what’s in their food and where it comes from and that’s why Hellmann’s Light is now moving to 100% cage-free eggs, keeping with the brand’s commitment to ‘real food’ using simple ingredients.”

Eggs used in Hellmann’s Light mayonnaise (and other recipes) will be certified through a program administered by the American Humane Association, the leading certifier of cage-free eggs.

Hellmann’s said it will eventually change all of its “real food” mayonnaise recipes to cage-free eggs once a certifiable and consistent supply becomes available in North America.

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Chocolate Peeps make their candy aisle debut

BY Allison Cerra

BETHLEHEM, Pa. Just Born has introduced a new generation of Peeps just in time for spring.

The iconic marshmallow chicks now are available in milk chocolate, conveniently-sized, 1.0-oz. single-serve packages.

“We are really excited about this new offering. We chose the chick shape because it is a popular Easter icon that everyone loves. We wanted to appeal to all taste buds, so we are offering this item in both milk and dark chocolate. These Peeps will please loyal fans and entice newcomers, perhaps becoming our biggest hit ever,” said brand manager Chris Schneeweiss.

In related news, Just Born welcomes has added orange marshmallow bunnies into the growing Peeps family. Peeps chicks and bunnies are available in all of the season’s favorite colors: yellow, pink, blue, lavender, green and orange.

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