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Purple Beverage Co. appoints new CEO

BY Allison Cerra

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Purple Beverage Company, Inc. announced that it has appointed a new CEO to move the company forward.

Geoffrey Winters will take over the helm as the CEO and chairman of the board of directors of Purple Beverage Company, Inc.

Purple founder Ted Farnsworth, who will be stepping down as the Company’s CEO and Chairman, said, “After going through a very difficult time over the last several months, we are now re-energized. This is a positive move for the company, the brand, and the shareholders. We feel Geoff is the perfect fit to take Purple to the next level.”

Winters was managing director of Lehman Brothers Brokerage & Investment Banking in New York where he structured over $2 billion in private and public offerings. He also served as managing director for the New York firms of Paine Webber Equity & Investment Banking and Gruntal & Co. Equity & Investment Banking.

“I believe Purple was just one more victim of the current financial environment, but now the company will position itself for the future,” said Winters. “I think the brand has great value and I look forward to the challenge. We will be looking at various options for the company including joint ventures and acquisitions.”

Introduced in late 2007, Purple is a unique and tasty blend of seven antioxidant-rich fruits, including the exotic acai berry, black cherry, pomegranate, black currant, purple plum, cranberry and blueberry. The health benefits of these fruits are blended into an all-natural, no-sugar added beverage that is perfect as an on-the-go drink, as part of a healthy fruit smoothie or as a mixer for cocktails.

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Report: U.S. Organic sales grow by 17.1% in 2008

BY Allison Cerra

GREENFIELD, Mass. U.S. sales of organic products, both food and non-food, reached $24.6 billion by the end of 2008, growing an impressive 17.1% over 2007 sales despite tough economic times, according to the Organic Trade Association, which made available final results from its 2009 Organic Industry Survey.

While the overall economy has been losing ground, sales of organic products reflect very strong growth during 2008.

“Organic products represent value to consumers, who have shown continued resilience in seeking out these products,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director.

The survey, conducted by Lieberman Research Group on behalf of OTA, measured the growth of U.S. sales of organic foods and beverages as well as such non-food categories as organic fibers, personal care products and pet foods during 2008. Results show organic food sales grew in 2008 by 15.8% to reach $22.9 billion, while organic non-food sales grew by an astounding 39.4% to reach approximately $1.65 billion. As a result, organic food sales now account for approximately 3.5 percent of all food product sales in the United States.

“This marks another milestone for the organic food market,” said Bushway.

With tough economic times, consumers have used various strategies in continuing to buy organic products. Because most venues now offer organic products, consumers have the opportunity to shop around. Increased use of coupons, the proliferation of private label brands, and value-positioned products offered by major organic brands all have contributed to increased sales.

The final report of the Organic Trade Association’s 2009 Organic Industry Survey is now available: http://www.ota.com/bookstore/2.html.

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Pepsi Bottling Group rejects PepsiCo acquisition proposal

BY Allison Cerra

SOMERS, N.Y. The Pepsi Bottling Group announced Monday that its board of directors has rejected a proposal by PepsiCo to acquire all outstanding shares of common stock of PBG not owned by PepsiCo for a combination of cash and PepsiCo common stock.

The board acted based on the unanimous recommendation of a special committee of the board comprised of independent directors. The Special Committee was advised by Morgan Stanley and Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

The PBG board Monday sent the letter to PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi, stating that “PBG values its longstanding relationship with PepsiCo, but the PBG board will not agree to a proposal which does not reflect the true value of PBG,” and that the “proposal is substantially below PBG’s intrinsic value.”

The proposal was announced immediately following PepsiCo’s first-quarter earnings release on April 22.

PBG also announced that its board has approved adoption of a stockholder rights plan, retention arrangements for certain key employees and amendments to PBG’s bylaws regarding notice and informational requirements for stockholder actions. Further information will be filed on Form 8-K with the SEC.

The Pepsi Bottling Group is the world’s largest manufacturer, seller and distributor of Pepsi-Cola beverages. With approximately 67,000 employees and annual sales of nearly $14 billion, PBG has operations in the U.S., Canada, Greece, Mexico, Russia, Spain and Turkey.

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