By Lorraine Mirabella

The Baltimore Sun

McCormick & Co. Inc. has acquired natural flavorings company FONA International for $710 million in cash, a move expected to strengthen the Maryland spice maker’s position supplying makers of health and performance nutrition products such as protein drinks.

FONA, a privately held company based in Geneva, Ill., makes natural flavorings for customers in the food, beverage and nutritional markets.

Its portfolio is expected to complement McCormick’s and give food manufacturers more choices to meet a growing demand for healthy foods and beverages, the company announced last week.

McCormick’s shares rose 0.49 percent in morning trading to $94.94 each after the deal was announced Wednesday.

“The acquisition of FONA reinforces McCormick’s global growth strategy as FONA expands the breadth of our flavor solutions segment into attractive categories, as well as extends our technology platform and strengthens our capabilities,” said Lawrence E. Kurzius, McCormick’s chairman, president and CEO in an announcement.

He said FONA will become the cornerstone for boosting McCormick’s industrial North American flavorings business in the health and wellness categories.

FONA, founded 30 years ago, has annual sales of about $114 million.

“We are confident McCormick will further enable FONA’s forward momentum by continuing to make investments in growth initiatives, capabilities and people,” Joseph Slawek, FONA’s founder, CEO and chairman said in the announcement.

During a conference call, Kurzius said McCormick plans to retain FONA’s 220 employees as much as possible and keep and invest in KONA’s manufacturing plant, which will allow McCormick to add to its manufacturing capacity.

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