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Tyson Foods buys into shellfish taste-alikes market

SPRINGDALE, Ark. -- Tyson Foods said Thursday it has reached agreement with Oscar Mayer Foods Corp. to purchase the assets of Louis Kemp Seafood Co.

Tyson also announced that shareholders of Arctic Alaska Fisheries Corp. overwhelmingly approved its previously announced merger with Tyson Foods at a special meeting Thursday.

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The pending acquisition of Arctic by Tyson was announced June 15 but was subject to approval by the holders of two-thirds of Arctic's common stock.

Thursday's vote was the last hurdle to the merger, which Tyson's now said it expects to take effect Oct. 5.

Tyson said its acquisition of Louis Kemp Seafood from Oscar Mayer -- a wholly owned subsidiary of Kraft General Foods Inc. -- will supplment the Arctic operation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Louis Kemp Seafood, with major facilities in Olympia, Wash., and Duluth, Minn., is the leading U.S. processor of retail packaged surimi- based crab and lobster substities.

Surimi is a natural, raw seafood material produced by filleting, mincing, and waterwashing fish, principally North Pacific pollock. Surimi-based lobster and crab taste-alikes are attractive because they are significantly less expensive and more convenient than real crab or lobster.

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Louis Kemp Seafood products are the leading retail brand, enjoying a 62 percent share with Louis Kemp Crab Delights and Lobster Delights products.

'This acquisition is very exciting because it will allow us to integrate the surimi paste produced by Arctic Alaska into the further- processed Louis Kemp line, enabling our production to be much more efficient and providing another outlet for a significant portion of Arctic's catch,' said Tyson Vice Chairman John Tyson.

'This will accelerate our ability to expand our value-added seafood offerings as we enlarge and enhance the Tyson center-of-the-plate protein product line,' he said.

'The Louis Kemp production facilities and staff are first rate, and we are looking forward to having them in the Tyson Foods family,' Tyson said. 'While Louis Kemp's sales have been largely in the retail area, Tyson's extensive food-service marketing and distribution network will allow us to move dramatically into the food-service markets with these products.'

Ron Jensen, president and chief executive officer of Arctic Alaska and head of Tyson's Seafood Group said, also praised the agreement to purchase Louis Kemp Seafoods.

'The combination of Arctic and Tyson is exciting, but the addition of Louis Kemp to our seafood family gets us down the road faster toward our goal of increased value-added fish products. The team of Tyson, Arctic and Louis Kemp will be formidable,' he said.

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