Prepared Foods August 23, 2005, enewsletter

Kerry, the global food ingredients, flavors and consumer foods group, announced a major expansion of its chilled ready meals business in the U.K. through the acquisition of Noon Group Ltd.

Noon is among the market leaders in the development and production of authentic Asian chilled ready meals in the United Kingdom. Operating from three modern production facilities located in the Great Western Industrial Estate in southwest London, the acquired business produces a range of premium-quality Indian, Oriental, Thai and other Asian and international cuisine ready meals, snacks and accompaniments, principally for major U.K. multiple retailers. The total consideration for the acquisition is 124 million pounds ($223 million) financed through existing lines of credit with group banks.

Complementing Kerry Foods' existing chilled ready meals businesses, Noon has well-established relationships with multiple leading U.K. retail groups and a reputation for quality, authenticity and innovation in the ethnic sub-category of the fast-growing premium sector of the U.K. chilled ready meals market, noted Kerry.

Commenting on the acquisition, Hugh Friel, Kerry Group chief executive, said, ”The acquisition of Noon significantly advances Kerry Foods' position and market leadership in the premium segment of the U.K. chilled recipe meals sector. Noon's capability to produce a broad range of high-quality, authentic cuisine types entirely from natural ingredients at such scale is testament to the strengths and potential of this business.”

“The U.K. chilled ready meals market valued at 1.4 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) continues to exhibit annual growth rates of 5% to 7% per annum. In particular, the premium subcategory of this dynamic U.K. market sector is achieving high double-digit growth rates in response to strongly favorable consumer trends toward increased convenience, premium-quality products and new taste experiences,” Friel added.