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    Acosta Subsidiary to Acquire Specialty Partners From Tree of Life

    ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Richard A. Thorne, chairman and c.e.o. of distributor Tree of Life Inc., today said the company has agreed to sell the assets of Specialty Partners to Natural/Specialty Sales Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Acosta Inc. The acquisition is expected to close in February 2004.

    ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Richard A. Thorne, chairman and c.e.o. of distributor Tree of Life Inc., today said the company has agreed to sell the assets of Specialty Partners to Natural/Specialty Sales Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Acosta Inc. The acquisition is expected to close in February 2004.

    "In the process of reviewing Tree of Life's strategy of returning to our core competencies, it became evident that the brokerage activities of Specialty Partners were not core to our future business," said Thorne. "Consequently, we searched for a suitable company that Special Partners would complement, while at the same time benefit our Specialty Partners associates. We believe that Specialty Partners is a perfect fit for Acosta and NSSI, and that the acquisition is advantageous for all parties."

    NSSI president Jamie Gronowski said the Specialty Partners' acquisition strengthens NSSI's presence in three key areas of the country -- the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast. "This acquisition will help us further that strategy," Gronowski noted, adding that the acquisition will strengthen the overall NSSI organization by providing additional resources against retail execution.

    Tree of Life Inc. is a leading marketer and distributor of natural and specialty foods, serving customers throughout the United States and Canada.

    Natural/Specialty Sales Inc. aims to bring small company experience to the natural, specialty and ethnic food markets.

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