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Heinz Expands Its Global Ketchup Business with Acquisition in Costa Rica Which Offers Growth Opportunities in Central America

PITTSBURGH--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 7, 2001--H. J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) today announced that it has expanded its flagship ketchup business into Central America with the acquisition of two leading privately held food companies, based in San Jose, Costa Rica: Productos Columbia, S.A. and Distribuidora Banquete, S.A. Terms of the transactions were not released.

"Productos Columbia and Distribuidora Banquete make and market the leading Banquete(R) brand, which holds 62 percent of the Costa Rican ketchup market and 16 percent of the Central American market. Importantly, these businesses are projected to expand at an 18 percent compound annual growth rate," noted Heinz Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer William R. Johnson. "Costa Rica enjoys Central America's most vibrant economy, and ketchups and sauces are an essential part of the local cuisine. This acquisition will allow us to expand sales of other popular Heinz brands and products throughout Central America."

The companies have combined annual sales exceeding US$12 million. In addition to the popular Banquete(R) line, they make and sell an array of sauces and condiments under various brands, including Columbia(R), Tipica(R), Salsitica(R), and Emily Gyor(R).

The companies sell to both retail supermarket customers and to the foodservice trade. Their factory is located in San Jose, and they have five distribution centers throughout Costa Rica, employing a total of nearly 150 people.

"Central America, particularly Costa Rica, is a logical step in Heinz's expansion in Latin America. These acquisitions fit perfectly with our strategy to establish a local Heinz presence in key parts of the region and to quickly achieve market leadership. This is particularly true in Venezuela where Alimentos Heinz is a food industry leader and where Heinz is the number-one brand of ketchup and baby food," explained Braulio Gamez, Heinz's Area Director -- Latin America and the Caribbean.

Heinz last year celebrated the 40th anniversary of Alimentos Heinz, which has operated a factory in San Joaquin since 1960. The company also sells canned tuna and pet food, among other varieties.

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 and industry conditions, production costs, achieving cost savings programs, acquisitions or disposals of business assets and new product and packaging innovations, and other factors described in "Cautionary Statement Relevant to Forward-Looking Information" in the company's Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended May 3, 2000, as updated from time to time by the company in its subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In particular, any predictions about the acquisition could be affected by integration problems; failure to achieve synergies; unanticipated liabilities; participation in new business lines; and changes in competitive environment.

ABOUT HEINZ: With sales over US$9 billion, H. J. Heinz Company is one of the world's leading marketers of branded foods to consumers everywhere, whether in supermarkets, restaurants or on the go. Its 50 companies operate in some 200 countries, with more than 20 power brands, including the Heinz(R) brand with nearly US$3 billion in annual sales. Among the company's famous brands are Heinz(R), StarKist(R), Ore-Ida(R), 9-Lives(R), Wattie's(R), Plasmon(R), Farley's(R), Smart Ones(R), Bagel Bites(R), John West(R), Petit Navire(R), Kibbles `n Bits(R), Pounce(R), Pup-Peroni(R), Orlando(R), ABC(R), Olivine(R), Juran(R) and Pudliszki(R). Heinz also uses the famous brands Weight Watchers(R), Boston Market(R) and Linda McCartney(R) under license. Information on Heinz is available at http://www.heinz.com.

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