American Italian Pasta Company (NYSE: PLB), the leading producer of dry pasta in North America, on Friday (17th November) announced the closing of its acquisition of the Mueller’s pasta brand from Bestfoods.

On October 25, American Italian Pasta Company (AIPC) filed an 8-K that disclosed the purchase price of the Mueller’s brand at approximately $38.2 million in cash and stock. The Company expects the acquisition to be non- dilutive to earnings in 2001 and significantly accretive to earnings in 2002.

“We are very excited to finalize the acquisition of the Mueller’s brand,” said Timothy S. Webster, president and chief executive officer of AIPC. “The addition of this venerable brand will improve our cash flow and long-term profitability and put us in a position to expand market share through increased trade and consumer promotional support.”

Horst W. Schroeder, chairman of the board, added, “With the completion of the acquisition of the Mueller’s brand, AIPC will seize the opportunity to implement strategies which will focus on rekindling the excitement of pasta preparation and pasta consumption for the American consumer. The exclusive focus on low retail prices and trade price promotions by most pasta brands in the last few years has led to declining pasta prices for decades, but failed to stimulate and grow consumption.”

“Mueller’s offers AIPC the opportunity to provide new leadership in the important pasta category with responsible pricing strategies generating the necessary marketing funds to be invested in consumer marketing efforts which might range from new promotional events to new recipes, shapes and flavors. Pasta remains one of the most economic sources of a low fat, carbohydrate rich diet as recommended by leading nutritionists and the U.S. government’s food pyramid.”

Mr. Webster stated, “The Mueller’s brand acquisition, combined with AIPC’s historic track record of high quality pasta products, can serve as the catalyst for heightened consumer interest and pasta consumption as well as improved economic potential for the trade and manufacturers.”

AIPC is based in Kansas City, Mo., with plants strategically located in Excelsior Springs, Mo., Columbia, S.C., and Kenosha, Wis., and its first international facility near Milan, Italy. Founded in 1988, the Company is the largest and one of the fastest-growing producers and marketers of dry pasta in North America. AIPC has rapidly established a significant market presence in North America by developing strategic customer relationships with food industry leaders that have substantial pasta requirements. The Company’s approximately 600 employees produce more than 80 dry pasta shapes in three vertically integrated U.S. milling, production and distribution facilities and one Italian production facility.

The statements contained in this release regarding the 2001 and 2002 earnings, improved cash flow and long-term profitability are forward looking and based on current expectations. Actual future results could differ materially from those anticipated by such forward-looking statements. The differences could be caused by a number of factors, included but not limited to our dependence on a limited number of customers for a substantial portion of our revenue, our ability to manage rapid growth, our ability to obtain necessary raw materials and minimize fluctuations in raw material prices, the impact of the highly competitive environment in which we operate, reliance exclusively on a single product category, our ability to attract and retain key personnel, our ability to cost-effectively transport our products and the significant risks inherent in our recent international expansion. For additional discussion of the principal factors that could cause actual results to be materially different, refer to our Current Report on Form 8-K dated October 29, 1997, filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission (Commission file No. 001-13403), any amendments thereto and other matters disclosed in the Company’s other public filings. The Company will not update any forward-looking statements in this press release to reflect future events. For more information, please refer to Form 10-Q filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission (Commission file No. 001-13403) dated July 26, 2000. The Company expects to file Form 10-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission (Commission file No. 001-13403) in December 2000.