MENLO PARK, Calif., Nov. 15, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Landec Corporation (Nasdaq:LNDC), a materials science company that develops and markets innovative and patented products for food and biomedical applications, announced today that its strategy to focus on and invest in its wholly-owned food subsidiary, Apio Inc., has resulted in new value-added vegetable products, under Apio's Eat Smart® brand, gaining distribution throughout North America. Apio is a leader throughout North America in the value-added produce category, offering pre-cut and ready-to-use packaged vegetables, vegetable blends and salads, as well as vegetable trays for snacking or entertaining. Apio leverages Landec's BreatheWay® packaging technology to gain a competitive edge and extend the shelf life of its products.
Apio has launched several new products that deliver delicious, nutrient-dense foods (also termed "superfoods") to the consumer in convenient formats. Recently Apio launched Beneforté® Broccoli, a "Naturally Better Broccoli", and a new line of Gourmet Vegetable Salad Kits that feature a mixture of highly nutritious vegetables, toppings and dressings. These products offer extended shelf life with Landec's BreatheWay packaging technology and promise consumers a unique offering of healthy ingredients along with great taste. These items are now being offered to foodservice operators and can be found in club and retail stores such as Costco, Sam's Club, United Supermarkets, Albertsons and Smart and Final.
Landec has recently made significant investments in its Apio food business, with the expectation of driving double-digit growth at Apio over the next 3 to 5 years and fueling unit volume growth that consistently exceeds that of the fresh-cut vegetable industry category in future years. New product innovation is one of the key target areas for these investments. These products are expected to contribute to Landec's existing overall guidance for fiscal year 2013, which is to grow revenues by approximately 30% and net income by 25-35% compared to fiscal year 2012.
Gary Steele, Chairman and CEO of Landec Corporation, stated, "We made a decision to drive growth in our Apio food business by selecting strategic areas for investment. In February, 2011, we made a $15 million financial investment in Windset Farms, a hydroponic grower of vegetables, that delivered a 46% return in fiscal year 2012. In April, 2012, we acquired GreenLine Foods, the leading processor and marketer of value-added, fresh-cut green beans in North America, providing Apio with a second market leading brand, an expanded customer base and a national distribution network." Steele continued, "The third area targeted for investment was that of new product innovation as we believe this will be a strong growth driver in Apio's future."
Sweet Kale Salad is the first product to launch in Apio's new line of Gourmet Vegetable Salad Kits. This product offers a unique blend of seven superfoods and capitalizes on growing consumer demand for products such as kale and Brussels sprouts. The kit contains a unique blend of other nutritious ingredients including chicory, broccoli, pumpkin seeds and cranberries and is paired with a poppyseed dressing to deliver a pleasurable flavor profile. The Sweet Kale Salad can be considered a replacement for leaf lettuce salads that offer less nutritional value on a per serving basis. Consumer response for this salad has been extremely positive throughout North America where the demand is strong for highly nutritious foods that also deliver convenience and great taste.
Apio has also launched its new Beneforté broccoli, a delicious broccoli variety offering American consumers improved nutritional benefits to help support a healthy lifestyle. Beneforté is a naturally improved variety of broccoli resulting from cross-pollination and selection to combine the best attributes of commercial broccoli with an uncultivated wild broccoli variety found in Southern Italy.
This new cross-pollinated variety has a unique, increased ability to produce the phytonutrient glucoraphanin. Each serving of Beneforté broccoli naturally contains 2-3 times the amount of glucoraphanin, compared to other leading broccoli varieties produced under similar growing conditions. Glucoraphanin is a phytonutrient that boosts a body's antioxidant enzyme levels and maintains the antioxidant activity of vitamins A, C, and E in the body. These antioxidant enzymes also help sustain normal cellular processes and maintain the body's defenses against potential damage from environmental pollutants and free radicals. Best of all, Beneforté delivers the same great taste as traditional varieties of broccoli, but with enhanced nutritional benefits.
Chief Commercial Officer, Molly Hemmeter, added, "We have invested in new product development at Apio by committing more resources to innovation, expanding our investment in consumer research and adding culinary expertise to ensure our products deliver the proper balance of convenience, value, nutrition and great taste. We are pleased to see these early investments in innovation paying off." Hemmeter continues, "And, with our recent acquisition of GreenLine Foods, we are now able to offer these new products to more customers through our retail, club and foodservice channels."
In April of this year, Apio acquired GreenLine Foods, which has provided Apio a means of distributing new products to a broader range of new customers. With GreenLine, Apio's food operations have expanded to include an additional four processing sites, six distribution centers and a fleet of privately-owned, leased trucks. With the addition of the GreenLine® brand, the combined Eat Smart, GreenLine and private label products are distributed to approximately 80% of North American retail grocery store sites. Apio also gained a new foodservice channel, complementing its already strong business with club stores. Beneforté broccoli and the new Gourmet Vegetable Salad Kits are now being offered to all channels, reaching more consumers through Apio's broadened distribution reach.
Concluded Steele, "Landec currently holds leadership positions in the markets we serve. We intend to advance our leadership position and drive growth at Apio by developing new products and leveraging our proprietary packaging technology, strong distribution channels and deep customer relationships to reach consumers."
About Landec Corp.
Landec Corporation is a materials science company that leverages its proprietary polymer technologies, application development and innovation capabilities to develop and commercialize new products in food and biomaterials markets. Landec's subsidiary, Apio, has become the leader in U.S. fresh-cut specialty packaged vegetables sold in North America based on combining Landec's proprietary food packaging technology and the strength of two major national brands, Eat Smart and GreenLine, with the capabilities of a large national food supplier, processor and distributor. Through its subsidiary, Lifecore Biomedical, Landec is a premium supplier of hyaluronan-based materials and medical products to ophthalmic, orthopedic and veterinary markets worldwide. In addition, Landec will periodically work with market-leading companies to develop and commercialize differentiated polymer-based products. For more information about the Company, visit Landec's website at www.landec.com.
Eat Smart® is a trademark of Apio, Inc and Beneforté® is a registered trademark of Seminis Vegetable Seeds, Inc.
CONTACT: At the Company: Gregory S. Skinner Vice President Finance and CFO (650) 261-3677