H. J. Heinz Company (NYSE: HNZ - news), the global food company, today announced that its Heinz Foodservice Division has signed an agreement to acquire IDF Holdings, Inc., the parent of International DiverseFoods Inc. (IDF), a leading manufacturer of customized, reciped dressings, sauces, mixes and condiments for restaurant chains and foodservice distributors. This strategic transaction will enable Heinz to accelerate the growth of its dynamic away-from-home eating business through expansion of its increasingly popular single-serve product lines, addition of new packaging capabilities and enhancement of its customer service. The transaction is expected to be completed later this week. Terms of the transaction were not released.

"We are delighted to add IDF to our foodservice portfolio," said Heinz President and CEO William R. Johnson. "Away-from-home eating is one of the hottest trends in the food industry and Heinz is well positioned to capitalize on it. Successful acquisitions have been key to our foodservice expansion and continue to be a major driver in our long-term strategy for top- and bottom- line growth. The addition of a quality company like IDF will provide further scale while also fortifying our R&D capabilities."

IDF is a leading player in the fast-growing away-from-home eating segment. With annual sales exceeding $100 million, it offers an extensive line of portion control and bulk food products, including sauces, condiments, salad dressings, pancake and biscuit mixes, batters and breading. Its major customers include leading casual dining restaurants and fast-food chains, along with foodservice distributors and food processing companies. Headquartered in a manufacturing facility in Nashville, Tenn., IDF also maintains a West Coast operation in City of Industry, Calif. The company has approximately 260 employees.

"IDF is an ideal fit for our organization," said Jeffrey Berger, president of Heinz Foodservice. "Part of our strategic plan includes acquiring companies in categories where we have solid working knowledge. IDF's product offerings and customer base clearly complement our operation."

Heinz Foodservice is one of the largest product suppliers to the U.S. foodservice industry, providing leading away-from-home establishments with condiments, frozen soups, tomato products and sauces, hot-fill food products, single-serve products, among other items.

"We are achieving success with acquisitions in categories that complement the strengths of our organization. Heinz North America has a rich history of successfully integrating new businesses into our organization," said Joe Jimenez, president and CEO of Heinz North America. "We fully expect IDF to be similarly integrated into Heinz Foodservice."

IDF will be managed by Heinz subsidiary Portion Pac Inc. (PPI), Mason, Ohio, the largest manufacturer of single-serve products for the U.S. foodservice industry.

"Because we have almost matching customer bases, integrating IDF into PPI will create a broad-range supplier, adding even greater value to our existing customer-supplier relationships," Mr. Berger said. "Both companies have national coverage that meets customers' diverse logistical requirements. By coming together, we will achieve economies in distribution and marketing."

Offering Custom-Developed Menu Items

IDF's innovative Total Product Solutions(TM) has made it a leader in contemporary culinary manufacturing -- capable of providing rapid, customized foodservice solutions to leading restaurants and fast-food chains. With Total Product Solutions(TM), IDF's culinary research and development team works together with customers to develop specialty menu suggestions. The team moves from the idea stage to prototype delivery in less than a week. Custom- developed products include flavored dressings, spreads, sauces, glazes and marinades. Specialty packaging is also featured.

The addition of IDF to the Heinz Foodservice portfolio extends Heinz's packaging capabilities to include gallon containers and larger plastic tubs designed for added convenience in storage and dispensing. The acquisition also gives Heinz entry into the bulk foods category as well as the refrigerated product market, highly valued by customers seeking fresh foods.

This news release contains forward-looking statements regarding the company's future performance. These forward-looking statements are based on management's views and assumptions, and involve risks, uncertainties and other important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements. These include, but are not limited to, sales, earnings and volume growth, competitive conditions, the ability of the Company to integrate acquisitions into its existing operations, currency valuations, global economic and industry conditions, achieving cost savings programs, success of acquisitions and new product innovations, and other factors described in "Forward-Looking Statements" in the company's Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended April 28, 1999, as updated from time to time by the company in its subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

ABOUT HEINZ: With sales over US$9 billion, H. J. Heinz Company is one of the world's leading marketers of branded foods to supermarkets and away-from- home eating establishments. Its 50 companies operate in some 200 countries, offering more than 57 hundred varieties. Among the company's famous brands are Heinz, StarKist, Ore-Ida, 9-Lives, Weight Watchers, Wattie's, Plasmon, Farley's, Smart Ones, The Budget Gourmet, Linda McCartney, San Marco, Go Ahead!, Bagel Bites, John West, Petit Navire, Boston Market, Skippy, Kibbles 'n Bits, Pounce, Wagwells, Nature's Recipe, Orlando, ABC, Olivine and Pudliszki. Information on Heinz is available at http://www.heinz.com.

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL DIVERSEFOODS INC.: Founded in 1952 as Mike Rose Foods Inc., the IDF name was adopted later, in 1995. In January 1998, J.W. Childs Equity Partners, L.P. purchased IDF, which then acquired Green Boy Foods in April 1998. IDF has approximately 260 employees and 1999 sales in excess of $100 million. Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., it has a second manufacturing facility in City of Industry, Calif.