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Hain Celestial acquires full control of poultry producer for $57.6M

Hain Celestial products on a store shelf in

Hain Celestial products on a store shelf in an undated photo. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Hain Celestial Group Inc., a Lake Success-based organic and natural products company, has spent $57.6 million to buy the remaining stock of its Mifflintown, Pennsylvania-based antibiotic-free, kosher poultry producer.

Hain Celestial purchased about 80 percent of EK Holdings Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary Empire Kosher Poultry Inc., including the company's net debt that was repaid at closing. Empire chief executive Jeffrey N. Brown will continue to be responsible for day-to-day operations, Hain officials said.

In May 2010, Empire purchased Kosher Valley, the first brand of certified kosher antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed and humanely raised branded chicken and turkey products, from Hain Pure Protein Corp., a subsidiary of Hain Celestial that received a 19 percent interest in Empire. Empire generated more than $100 million in net sales in 2014 and is expected to add to Hain Celestial's earnings in fiscal year 2016.

"Empire expands our Farm to Table product offerings, a growing category that appeals to those seeking the pure foods trend, including our core natural and organic consumers," Hain Celestial founder and chief executive Irwin D. Simon said in a statement. "We plan to expand the product offerings into deli, fresh prepared foods and other grocery categories."

Other Hain Celestial brands include Celestial Seasonings, Earth's Best, Terra and Spectrum.

Shares of Hain Celestial, up more than 40 percent in the past 12 months, rose 42 cents Wednesday to close at $62.76.

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