Inventure invests in Indiana snack plant

by Eric Schroeder
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PHOENIX — Inventure Foods will invest $3 million in its Bluffton, Ind., manufacturing facility, making room for an additional snack food extruder at the site. The expansion is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2014.

“To have this type of investment in this plant bodes well for us,” said Ron Lee, facility manager. “This supports our current customer base and allows us to enhance our ability to serve new customers.”

Extrusion is a process through which a set of mixed ingredients are forced through an opening in a perforated plate or die with a design specific to the food, and then cut to a specific size. Inventure said it will use the process to create snack products already made in Bluffton or planned for the facility.

Separately, the snack food maker said strong sales helped propel a 23% increase in earnings during the third quarter. Net income for the third quarter ended Sept. 28 was $2,148,000, equal to 11c per share on the common stock, up from $1,740,000, or 9c per share, in the same period a year ago. Sales for the quarter were $54,514,000, up 17% from $46,601,000.

“We are pleased with another quarter of record net revenues, realizing double-digit growth in both our healthy/natural and indulgent portfolios,” said Terry McDaniel, chief executive officer. “Our healthy/natural products represented 63% of net revenues and sales growth of 20.8%. The strength of our frozen fruit business allows us to consistently perform well against industry averages in the category, with a 33% increase in the quarter versus the prior year. The addition of Willamette Valley Fruit Co. to our family of brands has also proven to be a great operations play, adding to the growth of our frozen berry business in the third quarter. When coupled with our planned acquisition of Fresh Frozen Foods, we create a formidable presence in the frozen business that we believe can drive solid sales and profit growth into the future.”

Inventure’s snack division net revenue increased nearly 14% over the same quarter a year ago to $27 million. T.G.I. Friday’s brand sales decreased 19% in the quarter, offset by a 28% increase in sales of Boulder Canyon Natural Foods. Additionally, Inventure said net revenues of co-packed products increased almost nine times over the prior year with the addition of a new co-packing agreement with a prominent snack food company announced earlier this year.

Frozen segment net sales, which include Jamba All Natural Smoothies, totaled $27.5 million in the third quarter, up 21% from the same period a year ago. Net revenues of frozen berries increased 33% due to continued sales growth of branded frozen fruit, primarily due to the addition of Willamette Valley Fruit Co. Net revenues from frozen beverages fell 34%, largely due to decreased Jamba sales in the club channel and slower growth of the frozen beverage category.

For the nine months ended Sept. 28, overall net income at Inventure Foods was $4,611,000, or 24c per share, down 9% from $5,085,000, or 27c per share, in the same period a year ago. Net revenues were $156,728,000, up 11% from $141,637,000.
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