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    N.Y. Firm Acquires Majority Stake in Annie's Homegrown

    BOSTON - In a move that reflects consumers' increasing interest in natural foods, a New York investment firm has acquired a majority interest in Annie's Homegrown Inc., the Wakefield, Mass.-based manufacturer of all-natural and organic pasta products.

    BOSTON - In a move that reflects consumers' increasing interest in natural foods, a New York investment firm has acquired a majority interest in Annie's Homegrown Inc., the Wakefield, Mass.-based manufacturer of all-natural and organic pasta products.

    The investment firm, Solera Capital, bought the majority interest from HomeGrown Natural Foods Inc. of California, The Boston Globe reported. Financial terms were not disclosed. HomeGrown, Annie's management, and founder Ann Withey retain minority stakes in a company that uses no synthetics or preservatives in the recipes for products that can cost 20 percent or more than conventional macaroni-and-cheese boxed mixes.

    "With Solera's support, we are even better positioned to penetrate new distribution channels and develop new products to bring to market," said Annie's chief executive Paul Nardone.

    One of Annie's goals is to gain a bigger presence in mainstream supermarkets. Currently the products can be found in many natural food stores.

    "Solera's investment in Annie's is consistent with our strategy of investing in category-leading brands in markets poised for significant growth," Solera chief executive Molly Ashby said.

    Sales of all organic foods are projected to grow at close to double-digit rates annually in the next few years, well above the 1- to 2-percent growth for conventional foods, according to the Boston Globe. Annie's had gross sales of $16.2 million for its most recent fiscal year, up 20 percent from the year before, Nardone said.

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