US natural and organic food group Hain Celestial said it is expanding deli meat and fresh food offering by taking full control of Empire Kosher Poultry

Hain Celestial, which already held a 20% stake in Empire parent EK Holdings, said it paid US$57.6m for the remaining 80% of EK share capital. 

Empire produces Kosher Valley, the first kosher, antibiotic-free, vegetarian fed and humanely raised all-natural brand of chicken and turkey products. Empire purchased Kosher Valley from Hain Celestial subsidiary Hain Pure Protein in 2010 in exchange for a 19% stake in Empire. 

Empire now offers a full range of kosher antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken and turkey products including fresh tray pack, frozen, deli, fully cooked, gluten-free and organic products in the US. In 2014 the group generated over $100m in net sales. The deal is expected to be accretive to earnings in fiscal 2016, Hain Celestial added. 

"Empire expands our farm-to-table product offerings, a growing category that appeals to those seeking the pure foods trend, including our core natural and organic consumers. We plan to expand the product offerings into deli, fresh prepared foods and other grocery categories. Additionally, we expect to leverage our infrastructure to create revenue and procurement synergies, and we paid an attractive price considering the multiples being paid for antibiotic-free protein companies today," said Irwin Simon, founder, president and CEO of Hain Celestial.

"Empire is a strong brand in a growing category with a lot of experience, which provides us with the opportunity to broaden our existing portfolio of organic and natural brands into healthier kosher products. Empire should leverage Hain Celestial's knowhow and infrastructure to pursue new categories and kosher product offerings."

Jeffrey Brown, Empire CEO, will continue to be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the unit, reporting to Simon.