November 4/Broomfield, Col./PRNewswire -- WhiteWave Foods Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dean Foods Company, and Hero Group announced a strategic joint venture to introduce new innovative chilled fruit products to North America. The 50/50 joint venture, called Hero/WhiteWave, joins the expertise of Dean Foods' WhiteWave Foods division, maker of Silk soymilk and Horizon Organic, with Hero Group, producer of international fruit and infant nutrition brands Hero and Beech-Nut.

The joint venture, based in Broomfield, Col., serves as a strategic growth platform for both companies to further extend their global reach by leveraging each other's established innovation, technology, manufacturing and distribution capabilities over time.

Hero/WhiteWave brings together the natural and organic brand leadership of Dean Foods' WhiteWave division with Hero's history and strength as a leading global jam producer and leader in chilled fruit solutions and infant nutrition. Together, they will introduce American consumers to new innovative chilled fruit products that made Hero a leader in its respective markets in Europe.

"I look forward to the new opportunities the joint venture brings to both companies," said Joseph E. Scalzo, president and CEO of WhiteWave Foods. "WhiteWave and Hero both enjoy a rich legacy of bringing innovative, healthy foods to consumers. We also share a common vision and commitment to innovation and proven brand leadership. Together, we're ready to break the mold of similar goods currently on the U.S. market."

"We believe that North America is ready for new, ground-breaking chilled fruit category innovations, and we have found the ideal partner with Dean Foods," said Stefan F. Heidenreich, Hero Group CEO. "Dean's WhiteWave division was a natural match for us because of our shared passion for providing innovative, nutritious products to consumers. We believe this partnership provides a compelling market opportunity."

The first Hero/WhiteWave product, which is called Fruit2Day, will be a new healthy food product that offers consumers a surprising and convenient way to enjoy the goodness of fruit. Fruit2Day is a satisfying on-the-go chilled convenient fruit snack that offers a completely new way to experience fruit and helps consumers overcome common barriers to getting more fruit in their diets. It will be the first product of its kind in U.S. stores and has successfully launched and continues to grow in major European markets. Fruit2Day will be rolled out for nationwide distribution by mid-2009.

From the November 10, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash