Rice becomes multifaceted tool for Hain Celestial growth

by Jeff Gelski
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ORLANDO, FLA. — The natural, organic category has room for growth, from India to Europe, from club stores to “e-tailing,” said Irwin Simon, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. His company will use rice products as one way to take advantage of that growth.

Hain Celestial on Jan. 13 announced it had acquired Tilda Ltd., which sells 100% branded basmati and specialty rice products in more than 40 countries. Mr. Simon was in the United Kingdom for the acquisition, but he flew to Orlando in time to make a Jan. 14 presentation at the Integrated Corporate Relations XChang Conference in Orlando.

“When I looked at this company originally, what got me excited about it?” Mr. Simon said of Tilda. “The whole rice/basmati category — basmati rice is only grown in India. So if you see California basmati rice, it is not basmati rice.”

Tilda has infrastructure in the Middle East, India and Europe, he said.

“What a big opportunity to take high-end products into India, where there (are) 1.3 billion people, a new baby born every 3 seconds.” he said.

Tilda’s business also may grow in North America, where currently Tilda sells less than 10 million lbs of product, Mr. Simon said.

“Consumption of rice around the world is extremely high,” he said. “Actually, the least amount of consumption of rice is in the United States of America.”

Tilda’s products are in specialty markets and ethnic markets, he said. Rice is gluten-free. Tilda’s rice is non-bioengineered.

Speaking about Hain Celestial brands overall, Mr. Simon said many retailers are looking to expand in the natural, organic category. He mentioned Sainsbury’s in the United Kingdom, Loblaws in Canada and Delhaize in Europe. Natural, organic opportunity may come through electronic retailing, or “e-tailers” such as Amazon.

“’E-tailing is going to get bigger and bigger within this natural, organic category,” Mr. Simon said. “The clubhouse, club stores — whether it’s Costco, Sam’s — will continue to sell more and more.”
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