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The History of Walnut Acres
Nov 21, 2002


The Story Of America’s Original Organic Food Brand

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (November 21, 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 foods.

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 organic brands.

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 was fully implemented on 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, are permitted to display the USDA Organic seal beginning October 2002.

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 organic 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 organic 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 began to be labeled as the newest addition to the Walnut Acres family of certified organic products during the first half of 2002. They continue to be made from delicious tree-ripened fruit grown in organic orchards and produced with hand-crafted quality.

Adding Kids Snacks

In August 2002 Acirca began a limited introduction of the first certified organic fruit snacks for kids, Walnut Acres Fruit SqueeziesÒ. Two flavor varieties of these innovative snacks, Wild Apple and Berry Wild, provide a convenient solution for parents seeking to provide healthy snacks for their children.

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 organic products.

The future of Walnut Acres will include new products and expansion of the trusted Walnut Acres brand into new categories of certified organic 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.

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Media Contact
Michael Neuwirth
(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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