Ajinomoto To Acquire Windsor Frozen Foods

Sept. 18, 2014
$800 million offer in quest to become a billion-dollar North American frozen food company.

Japan's Ajinomoto Co. continues its global quest to become more of a food processor, not just an ingredient supplier, with the proposed acquisition of Windsor Quality Holdings LP, a private U.S. maker of frozen ethnic foods, for approximately $800 million.

Actually, subsidiary Ajinomoto North America Inc., based in Fort Lee, N.J., made the offer Sept. 10. Windsor has been in business since 2004, has approximately 1,700 employees and sales of $670 million.

Windsor, headquartered in Houston, has seven production facilities throughout the U.S. and brands in Asian, Mexican, Italian and appetizer segments, holding the top share for Asian products, the companies claim. Retail brands include Tai Pei, Ling Ling, Jose Ole and VIP, and foodservice brands Bernardi, Chili Bowl, Fred's, Golden Tiger, Posada and Whitey's. It also has a contract manufacturing business.

"By combining Windsor' s marketing power, knowledge of U.S. consumers, distribution and sales capabilities and production footprints throughout the U.S. with [Ajinomoto North America's] strengths in healthy, high-quality and delicious frozen food products … originating from Japan … Ajinomoto Co. will accelerate its growth to achieve its fiscal 2020 sales target of JPY 100 billion [$931 million] for its frozen food business in North America and secure its position as the clear No. 1 manufacturer in the Asian/Ethnic frozen food market," read an Ajinomoto statement.

In developed countries, such as the U.S. and Europe, Ajinomoto has been specializing in more highly processed foods originating from Japan, with a lineup focused on Asian/ethnic frozen and processed foods adapted to local customer tastes, the company explained.
Ajinomoto established a frozen food business in North America in 2000, which now has sales of $130 million, mainly comprised of products such as Gyoza (pot stickers), noodles and rice adapted to local customers. Windsor has developed a broad distribution network in the U.S., with about 80,000 stores selling its products, including major retailers. It also has a strong foodservice operation selling to approximately 120,000 restaurants.

Ajinomoto expects the sale to close in early November. The Japanese company intends to retain Windsor's current management – which presumably would include President Greg Geib.

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