Hain Celestial has gained a 15% share of the soup market in Asia over the last year

Hain Celestial has gained a 15% share of the soup market in Asia over the last year

The CEO of Hain Celestial has told analysts that the US food company will look to make more acquisitions this year, in the US and Asia.

Speaking on the firm's quarterly earnings call yesterday (1 February), CEO Irwin Simon, said the company now had a presence in seven countries - up from three countries at the end of 2010.

Simon told analysts that Hain will continue to look to expand its presence in Asia to tap into the growing economies in the region.

"We have some work to do but we're pretty excited about what the growth opportunities are," Simon said. "There is a good base business that will grow just by shipping products here from the US. We will look at putting a couple of plants over there in snacks and personal care, and then we will look at acquisitions."

In addition, Simon cited Australia in which Hain could look to make acquisitions, with its "good young population, similar to the UK and close to the Asian market". He also said the company would look to Eastern Europe and the Middle East for potential purchases.

However, it was the US market that Simon highlighted as holding the largest opportunity for Hain.

"There are a lot of expansion opportunities for us, but most importantly is the US," Simon told analysts. "We think today, with the US base business we have, with the US business growing ... our top ten customers have grown over double digits, and our top ten customers are growing both in consumption and store count and are bringing more natural products into the store. This is where our opportunities are. There are quite a few acquisitions that we are focused on as we grow in the US."

Simon said the integration of UK chilled foods firm Daniels Group, which was acquired in October, was on track.

"There is a really good focus on integrating the team together with our current business and we like what we see," Simon said. "The sales opportunities are tremendous within our team."

Meanwhile, the company said it is well positioned to offset commodity inflation.

"Commodities have softened up recently but they are still up versus a year ago," said John Carroll, CEO of Hain's US operations. "The way we offset this is with our 1 July price increases that will be fully realised in the second half. Also, our productivity function is in high-gear yielding $7m of savings in the second half of 2012."

Yesterday, Hain hailed "record" first-half profits, boosted by expanded distribution and the acquisitions of Daniels and the Earth's Best brand from JM Smucker.

The firm's share price was up 5.21% to $40.78 at 11:58 EST today.