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J.M. Smucker to acquire Ainsworth Pet Nutrition

BY DSN STAFF

Pet nutrition seems to be a niche many companies want to step into. J.M. Smucker has — a move that comes on the heels of General Mills’ plan to acquire Blue Buffalo pet products.

The transaction is valued at approximately $1.7 billion, after an estimated tax benefit of $200 million. Ainsworth Pet Nutriton is a producer, distributor and marketer of pet food and pet snacks, that include Rachael Ray’s Nutrish line.

“It has been an important goal of mine to help create pet food with the same care I use when creating my recipes, as well as a brand that has been able to donate over $27 million to help animals in need,” Ray said. “So I am pleased that J. M. Smucker is committed not only to maintaining the high quality of the Nutrish brand, but continuing the philanthropic efforts of the brand through donations to the Rachael Ray Foundation, which helps those animals that are less fortunate than our own.”

One of the benefits of the acquisition lies in the pet food and pet snacks becoming one of the largest center-of-the-store categories in the U.S. food and beverage marketing, generating over $30 billion in annual sales across all channels, the Orrville, Ohio.-based company said.

“Ainsworth Pet Nutrition is an excellent strategic fit for our company, as the Rachael Ray Nutrish brand adds another high-growth, on-trend brand to our pet food portfolio,” Mark Smucker, chief executive officer, said. “Their team has done a tremendous job growing this business, building Nutrish into one of the most recognizable premium pet food brands in the United States. We look forward to working with the talented Ainsworth team, as we know their passion for pets runs as deep as ours.”

Adding Nutrish to J.M. Smucker’s portfolio strengthens the company’s position in dog snacks and cat food, and contribute net sales of approximately $800 million in the first full year of the transaction’s closing, the company said.

“Smucker’s decision to acquire Ainsworth Pet Nutrition validates the power of the Ainsworth company mission,” Jeff Watters, president and CEO of Ainsworth, said. “At Ainsworth, our goal has been to improve the lives of pet families everywhere by making high-quality pet food accessible to all pet parents. This single-minded focus has resonated with consumers and will continue to resonate under Smucker leadership.”

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Essentia appoints new chief marketing officer

BY DSN STAFF

Bottled water company, Essentia Water announced a change to its leadership team. The Bothell, Wash.-based maker of ionized alkaline water has named Karyn Abrahamson as its new chief marketing officer.

In this role, Abrahamson will continue to oversee all of the company’s marketing efforts as a key member of the executive leadership team to further drive rapid growth, the company said.

“As someone with a longstanding passion for developing and evolving brands, I am incredibly proud to continue being part of leading Essentia’s exciting growth,” Abrahamson said. “We have a unique opportunity to not only be an innovative leader in the beverage industry, but to transform Essentia into a lifestyle brand, and marketing will help drive that development in the months and years to come.”

Abrahamson joined Essentia in 2015 as vice president of marketing and brand innovation. In that role, she was responsible for developing and leading the company’s brand strategy and overall integrated marketing efforts.

Prior to joining Essentia, Abrahamson served as the director of global retail marketing and innovation at Microsoft where she was responsible for the global in-store product launches of Xbox and Surface. She also has previously held leadership roles at Starbucks, T-Mobile and Adidas America.

“Essentia has accomplished more in the last three years than many thought even possible, and Karyn’s ability as a talented leader and marketing visionary has unquestionably played a large role in that success,” Ken Uptain, CEO and founder of Essentia, said. “Karyn has grown our marketing team from three to 20 highly talented individuals and led Essentia’s evolution from a product focus to a brand focus in every sense of the word. I can’t think of anyone more qualified and deserving than Karyn to lead Essentia’s marketing efforts into the future.”

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Gardein intros vegan skillet meals

BY Gisselle Gaitan

Meat alternative brand Gardein is expanding its portfolio of products to include skillet meals. The Boulder, Colo.-based company’s latest introductions — skillet meals — are vegan meal solutions for two.

Gardein owner Boulder Brands said that the skillet meals marry the brand’s signature meatless meats with a variety of vegetables, grains and pastas in various sauces that can be prepared in minutes. The four new launches are Non-GMO Project Verified, certified vegan, dairy-free and made with plant protein. They include:

  • Asian Style Chick’n Fried Rice, which is made with Gardein’s chick’n bites, broccoli, peppers, edamame and an Asian-style sauce;
  • Chick’n Fiesta, which features a medley of veggies, beans and spices combined with chick’n bites;
  • Chick’n Florentino, which contains chick’n bites, broccoli and spinach in a roasted garlic and lemon sauce; and
  • Italian Style Rigatoni n’ Sausage, which features a combination of pasta, peppers and onions and Gardein’s new Italian saus’ge bites in a marinara sauce.

“Consumers today want healthier, sustainable options that fit into their busy schedules,” Andy Judd, vice president of marketing at Boulder Brands, said. “As the very first multi-serve meals available in the frozen meatless category, our new skillet meals are outrageously delicious and can be prepared in minutes, making meal time a rewarding experience no matter how brief.”

The new skillet meals currently are available in select retailers and will be expanding to major supermarkets nationwide in the coming months.

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