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The History of Walnut Acres: The Story Of America's Original Organic Food Brand
Apr 9, 2002

Walnut Acres, America's original organic
food company, is emerging as one of the strongest trademarks in
the rapidly developing organic food and beverage industry. The
story behind the development of Walnut Acres parallels the evolution
of the organic industry itself, from a modest niche market with
regional specialties, to the fastest-growing food segment today.

In The Beginning

In 1946, inspired by Sir Albert Howard, the "father of organic
farming," who taught that each generation has a sacred duty to
pass on the heritage of health, Walnut Acres began producing organic

The company's reputation for high quality, specialty foods grew
and the product line expanded. The popularity of the products
led to the development of a direct mail business of organic as
well as many non-organic products. As America's interest in organics
heightened, Walnut Acres became the country's leading organic
catalog retailer and an early and vocal advocate for the industry.

New Leadership

On June 1, 2000, Acirca, Inc., was created by Mark S. Rodriguez
to produce and market certified organic products. The name,
Acirca - inspired by the phrase "a circle of life" - underscored
the company's commitment to the development of premier certified

Rodriguez hired a team of executives with extensive food and beverage
experience and one of the first actions of the company was to
acquire the sales and marketing rights to Walnut Acres and return
it to its roots by focusing exclusively on the development of
certified organic products.

To fulfill Americans' increasing demand for organic foods in conventional
supermarkets and natural supermarkets, the company refocused sales
efforts to bring Walnut Acres products to more people, exclusively
via retail. As a result, the direct mail catalog business was
discontinued and a new product line was developed.

A Growing Opportunity

Organic foods have been growing on average 24 percent annually
over the past ten years and are now more widely available than
ever before. More and more health-conscious Americans are seeking
the convenience and quality assurance offered by organic products.

Walnut Acres applauded the United States Department of Agriculture's
passage of national guidelines and certification standards for
organic products in December 2000. The National Organic Program
will be fully implemented beginning October 21, 2002, dispelling
any lingering confusion about what is, or is not, organic, making
the choices clearer for consumers who want to eat better, more
healthy foods. Only products with more than 95% certified organic
content, including all Walnut Acres foods and beverages, will
be allowed to display the USDA Organic seal beginning October

Walnut Acres relies on high-quality, certified organic
manufacturing facilities that meet or surpass the quality requirements
of the USDA's National Organic Program to produce its certified
products. Strict quality assurance standards ensure
the consistency of all Walnut Acres products.

The Walnut Acres ready-to-serve soups, launched nationwide in
January 2001, received accolades from consumers and retailers
for their distinctive packaging and premium quality. Eight varieties
of "classics with a twist" are currently available in conventional
supermarkets and natural supermarkets with additional flavors
and seasonal offerings to come.

In April 2001, three Walnut Acres certified organic salsas
debuted. The distinctive and delicious chef-inspired recipes blend
flavor-enhancing spices and fresh, organic garden vegetables.
The salsas were the first line extension of the reinvigorated
Walnut Acres family of products.

Committed to preserving the Walnut Acres promise of quality, the
company continues to focus on certified organic product
offerings, a new contemporary look and an expanded vision for
America's original organic food brand.

The Family Continues to Grow

In June 2001, Acirca acquired the nation's second largest brand
of certified organic pasta sauce, Millina's Finest, and
the super-premium pasta sauce Frutti Di Bosco. The addition of
Frutti Di Bosco and Millina's Finest gave Acirca the number two
position in the U.S. organic pasta sauce category and substantially
enlarged Acirca's product offering to key customers. To enhance
the quality of Millina's Finest and make all of its pasta sauces
consistent with the quality Walnut Acres is known for, more certified
diced tomatoes and more certified organic olive
oil were added to recipes. Beginning in April 2002, Walnut Acres
began to sell its new certified organic pasta sauces under
the Walnut Acres quality trademark.

Adding Beverages

In October 2001, Acirca acquired the nation's leading brand of
certified organic juice, Mountain Sun. The great-tasting,
award-winning Mountain Sun juices will begin to be labeled as
the newest addition to the Walnut Acres family of certified
products during the first half of 2002. They will
continue to be made from delicious tree-ripened fruit grown in
organic orchards and produced with the hand-crafted quality of
Mountain Sun.

A Commitment to Community

In October 2001, Walnut Acres announced that it joined forces
with Share Our Strength, one of the nation's leading anti-hunger,
anti-poverty organizations, to help the 31 million Americans who
suffer from persistent hunger and food insecurity. Through a long-term
partnership, Walnut Acres donates a portion of proceeds from the
sale of every Walnut Acres certified organic product to
Share Our Strength. Walnut Acres has committed to donate more
than $500,000 over five years to the fight against hunger. Additionally,
all Walnut Acres product labels carry a call-to-action to encourage
consumers to join Walnut Acres in the fight against hunger.

The company remains dedicated to honoring the legacy created in
1946 by bringing consumers the highest quality, Walnut Acres certified

The future of Walnut Acres will include new products and expansion
of the trusted Walnut Acres brand into new categories of certified
foods and beverages. As the steward of America's original
organic food brand, Acirca, Inc., is committed to being an active
and responsible member of the organic industry and continuing
the responsible development of the first name in organic foods
and beverages.

Media Contacts:
Beth Corwin, PT&Co. (212) 229-0500
Michael Neuwirth, Acirca (914) 380-8020

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Did Walnut Acres used to make other products?
Yes. However, to focus on producing only certified organic foods and beverages and to make them more widely available, the...

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