Heinz acquires assets of Calif. pet-food maker Nature's Recipe brand has $50 million annual sales; Manufacturing


PITTSBURGH -- H. J. Heinz Co. said yesterday that it has acquired substantially all of the assets of Earth Elements Inc., a Corona, Calif., marketer of all-natural pet foods with annual sales of more than $50 million.

Terms weren't disclosed.

Earth Elements distributes products sold under the brand name Nature's Recipe Pet Food, the fourth-largest brand in the fast-growing $1.4 billion specialty pet foods category, Pittsburgh-based Heinz said.

"Nature's Recipe is a premium pet food line that will allow us to further build our business in the specialty pet food channels: pet stores, feed stores and veterinary clinics," said Heinz Chairman and Chief Executive Anthony O'Reilly.

Earth Elements was founded in 1981 and has about 70 employees.

The founder of Earth Elements, Jeffrey Bennett, will join Heinz as president of the new Nature's Recipe Division, Heinz said.

The Nature's Recipe Pet Food line offers all-natural cat and dog foods in dry and canned forms and also sells biscuits and dog treats.

Earth Elements' products are made by other pet-food producers under packing agreements, Heinz said.

The acquisition follows an announcement last week that Heinz agreed to acquire a majority stake in Alimentos Pilar SA, Argentina's third-largest pet food producer. Terms of that transaction weren't disclosed.

Although Heinz is known for making ketchup and condiments, pet food has become one of its biggest and fastest-growing businesses, with annual sales of more than $1 billion.

In the largest acquisition in the company's history, Heinz paid $725 million last March to acquire Quaker Oats Co.'s pet food units in the United States and Canada.

Heinz shares fell 50 cents yesterday to $33.25. The company announced the acquisition after the markets closed.

Pub Date: 3/29/96

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