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Unilever acquires Graze snacks
Unilever (London, United Kingdom and Rotterdam, Netherlands) has acquired Graze (London, United Kingdom), the United Kingdom’s largest healthy snack brand, from The Carlyle Group. The purchase price was not disclosed, but Sky News reported Graze was acquired for £150 million ($195.9 million on Feb. 5). Graze was founded in 2008 as a snack-box delivery service and sells bars, packaged nuts and seeds, dips and other snacks at retail and online. Carlyle bought a majority stake in Graze in 2012. During Carlyle’s ownership, Graze expanded into mainstream retail stores in the United Kingdom and United States, including Costco and Target. “A truly multichannel brand, Graze offers personalization, convenience and great nutrition, brilliantly meeting the needs of millennial consumers,” said Nitin Paranjpe, president of Unilever’s Food & Refreshment business.
Campbell sells Habit personalized nutrition to microbiome company
Viome (Seattle, Washington.) is buying the personalized nutrition company Habit (Oakland, California) from Campbell Soup Company. Financial terms were not disclosed. The deal will combine Viome’s expertise and technology related to the gut microbiome with Habit’s customized nutrition plans based on at-home test kits that measure nutrition-related blood, metabolic and genetic biomarkers. Campbell has been Habit's sole strategic investor and majority shareholder, investing $32 million in 2016. Habit founder Neil Grimmer was also co-founder of Plum Organics baby food, acquired by Campbell in 2013 for a reported $249 million.
Symrise acquires three U.S. pet-food businesses in $900 million deal
Flavor and fragrances company Symrise AG (Holzminden, Germany) is acquiring three Missouri pet-food-ingredient businesses from Darrco LLC for approximately $900 million in debt and equity. Symrise characterized the deal as a “strategic acquisition of an all-natural nutrition business with annual sales of $220 million and an adjusted EBITDA of $51 million.” International Dehydrated Foods LLC and American Dehydrated Foods LLC specialize in natural and organic poultry ingredients. IsoNova Technologies LLC produces value-added egg protein ingredients offering animal health and nutrition benefits. In 2014, Symrise acquired Diana, a French manufacturer of natural flavors and pet food ingredients for $1.8 billion. Symrise had revenues of €3 billion in 2017 ($3.6
billion on Jan. 2, 2018).
Sustainable Bioproducts raises $33 million Series A
Sustainable Bioproducts (Chicago, Illinois), a biotechnology company developing a way to grow edible protein, has raised $33 million in Series A financing led by 1955 Capital, with participation from ADM Ventures and Danone Manifesto Ventures. Sustainable Bioproducts' technology emerged from research into “extremophile” organisms that live in Yellowstone National Park's volcanic springs; this led to the development of an innovative fermentation technology for growing protein “with great nutritional value and minimal impact on the environment,” the company said. Based at the University of Chicago's Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Sustainable Bioproducts has received support from NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Park Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the State of Montana and Montana State University.
Ritual raises $25 million Series B for women’s vitamins
Ritual (Los Angeles, California), a direct-to-consumer women’s vitamin subscription company, announced $25 million in Series B funding spearheaded by existing investors Norwest Venture Partners, Forerunner Ventures and Founders Fund. Founded in 2015, Ritual differentiates its vitamins based on the transparency and traceability of their ingredients. Ritual launched its first product, Essential For Women, in 2016, followed by Essential Prenatal in 2018. Ritual says it has transformed women’s behavior, with 59 percent of customers surveyed saying they didn’t have a consistent vitamin habit prior to trying Ritual. Some of the new capital will be used for an independent clinical study on Ritual vitamins.
Givaudan, Nestlé and Bühler invest in Future Food Initiative
The Swiss federal institutes of technology, ETH Zürich and EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Féderale de Lausanne), have launched the Future Food Initiative with partners Givaudan, Nestlé and Bühler. The initiative will advance food and nutrition research to address the global challenges of healthy food production, affordable nutrition and sustainable supply chains. “We are stepping up as an industry to address challenges in the food value chain,” said Stefan Scheiber, CEO of the Bühler Group. “Bühler’s ambition is to create innovative and sustainable solutions, partnering with leading research institutes, industrial partners, and promising start-ups in the world of food.” Partners will fund the initiative to the tune of 4.1 million Swiss francs ($4.1 million on Feb. 4).
Little Spoon announces $7 million in funding
Little Spoon (New York, New York), a direct-to-consumer baby food and early childhood nutrition company, closed $7 million in venture capital, with significant investment from Vaultier7, the female-led investment fund Kairos, a founding member of Chobani and others. Little Spoon designs fresh, healthy organic baby food made without preservatives or extreme heat. Parents can get recommended meal plans or customize their own meals, which come in recyclable containers complete with spoons.
By Humankind attracts seed investment for refillable personal care
Lerer Hippeau announced the addition to its portfolio of By Humankind (New York, New York), a personal care brand that aims to reduce the prevalence of single-use plastics. Lerer Hippeau led the seed investment,reported at $4 million, with participation by Red Sea Ventures, BoxGroup, SV Angel, Great Oaks, and others. Founded in 2018, By Humankind is a direct-to-consumer brand offering refillable deodorants, shampoo bars and mouthwash tablets by
subscription. Lerer Hippeau cited a Unilever study showing that one-third of consumers are choosing to buy products from companies they believe are doing social or environmental good. “Our own portfolio demonstrates consumers’ growing desire for sustainable solutions, evidenced by the widespread appeal and rapid growth of Allbirds, Everlane, Palmetto, Drift, Bowery Farming and more.”
AVRIL expands natural offerings with lecithin supplier Lecico
Avril Group (Paris, France) announced the acquisition of Lecico (Hamburg, Germany), a supplier of non-GMO lecithin and phospholipids. This follows Avril’s launch of two sunflower lecithin units in France and Romania and the integration of specialty ingredients company Novastell. “The acquisition of Lecico marks an important stage in the acceleration of our products and services offer for health and nutrition businesses,” said Olivier Delamea, general manager of Avril’s oils and condiments business. Avril had turnover of €6.2 billion in 2017 ($7.4 billion on Jan. 2, 2018).
Unilever acquires The Laundress eco-brand
Unilever (London, United Kingdom and Rotterdam, Netherlands) has acquired The Laundress (New York, New York), an eco-friendly line of laundry and home cleaning products. The Laundress was founded in 2004 by two fabric-care experts on a mission to revive the lost art of laundry care. Since launching with a wool and cashmere shampoo, the line has expanded to 85 premium, eco-friendly products. The Laundress will still operate from its New York City headquarters, led by its co-founders. “With its line of beautifully crafted eco-friendly products and fast-growing following in the U.S. and China, particularly among millennials, The Laundress is a strong addition to our portfolio of leading Home Care brands,” said Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever’s Home Care business.
Yield Growth acquires beverage formulas for CBD infusion
The Yield Growth Corp. (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) has acquired eight wellness beverage formulas designed to be infused with CBD and THC and one capsule product intended to treat hangovers. The Ayurvedic formulas were developed in India and offer health benefits such as boosting energy, reducing anxiety or inflammation, and improving immunity, the company said in a news release. Yield Growth issued 200,000 shares and 200,000 warrants to purchase shares at $0.60 per share for the acquisition and is obligated to pay net revenues from sales of 2 percent. Yield Growth’s existing Urban Juve brand is an Ayurveda-inspired line of skin care products made with Cannabis sativa, hemp root oil, and essential oils. The publicly traded company said it is “aggressively developing hemp and cannabis products, with over 50 SKUs expected to hit the market in 2019.”
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