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Glanbia PLC (Kilkenny, Ireland) is buying SlimFast (Palm Beach Gardens, Florida) and certain supplement brands for $350 million from Kainos Capital. SlimFast delivered $212 million net sales in 2017 and a net loss before tax of $12 million. Kainos acquired SlimFast from Unilever in 2014 and set out to help revitalize the iconic weight-loss brand. Efforts included repackaging, leveraging clinical studies and re-launching advertising campaigns. According to Kainos Partner Bob Sperry, “The result was a dramatic turnaround in the sales trajectory such that for the last three years, SlimFast was the fastest-growing brand in the weight management category in the U.S. and the largest brand in the [United Kingdom].” Glanbia plans to operate SlimFast from its Performance Nutrition segment, which includes Optimum Nutrition, BSN, Isopure, thinkThin and Amazing Grass. Overall, the segment increased revenue by 13.7 percent in 2017. The deal also gives Glanbia the supplement brands Healthy Delights and Nu-Therapy.
Once Upon a Farm (Berkeley, California), a provider of organic, cold-pressed baby food, applesauce and smoothies, has closed a $20 million Series B financing round led by CAVU Venture Partners. Also participating were S2G Ventures, Beechwood Capital and other Series A investors. The company, which was co-founded by natural products industry veteran John Foraker and actress Jennifer Garner, has expanded from 300 retail locations to more than 8,500 in September. Key retail partners include Target, Whole Foods, Kroger, Publix and Walmart. Foraker was formerly CEO of organic and natural food company Annie’s Inc., which was sold to General Mills in 2014 for $820 million. In the United States, organic baby food (excluding formula, baby cereal and toddler foods) totaled $294 million in natural, specialty and conventional channels for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 9, up 4.5 percent over the prior year period, according to SPINS.
A transatlantic maker of nutritionally complete powdered food, bars and granola, Huel has raised £20 million (US$26 million on Oct. 5) in funding from growth equity investor Highland Europe. Huel (Aylesbury, United Kingdom) caters to time-constrained consumers who want healthy, sustainably produced meals. The vegan meal replacements are based on a blend of oats, pea protein, brown rice protein, flaxseed, sunflower and coconut, plus vitamins and minerals. Huel was co-founded in 2015 and now has a team of 65 based in the U.K.; Los Angeles, California; and Berlin, Germany. The company is anticipating £40 million in revenues in its fourth year in business, according to Business Insider UK. Competitors in the plant-based meal replacement category include Soylent, Garden of Life, Purition, Orgain and Vega.
Capri Sun Group (Zug, Switzerland) has acquired a majority stake in All I Need (Vienna, Austria), according to FoodBev Media. All I Need produces canned and bottled teas, adding ingredients like aronia, açaí and turmeric to a base of organic green sencha and white teas. The company was founded in 2010 and the original owners will retain a 15 percent interest in the business. Known for its laminated foil pouches, Capri Sun juice was introduced in 1969 by the German company WILD and has been distributed under license in the United States since the 1980s.
Kettlebell Kitchen (New York, New York) has closed a $26.7 million Series B growth equity financing led by North Castle Partners. Launched in 2013, Kettlebell Kitchen provides healthy prepared meals and custom meal plans to help consumers reach their fitness, nutrition, sports performance and weight-loss goals. Kettlebell distributes meals primarily through a network of gym partners, in addition to direct-to-door delivery. Meals fit the guidelines of numerous diet regimens and are free of gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, GMOs, artificial ingredients and sweeteners, and processed oils.
ReGrained (San Francisco, California), an ingredient company with a patented technology to transform byproducts of food manufacturing into superfoods, has closed a $2.5 million seed financing. Food ingredients manufacturer Griffith Foods (Chicago, Illinois) led the round with participation from Barilla Group’s BLU1877, Telluric Foods and others. ReGrained “upcycles” millions of tons of high-protein, high-fiber grain generated by the brewing industry into SuperGrain+, for use as a branded functional ingredient by food manufacturers. ReGrained also has a consumer product line, SuperGrain+ bars. Investment will help scale up ReGrained’s proprietary processing technology and commercialize its ingredient business. ReGrained was a presenting company at the NCN XXI Investor Meeting in San Francisco in 2017.
Kraft Heinz (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) has launched Evolv Ventures (Chicago, Illinois) to invest in “emerging tech companies transforming the food industry.” Kraft Heinz has committed up to $100 million and brought in venture investor Bill Pescatello to lead the fund. Pescatello was a partner at
Lightbank and a founding member of the Peacock Equity Fund. Technology related to supply chains, logistics, e-commerce and direct-to-consumer approaches are likely to be among the fund’s targets. In March, Kraft Heinz launched its Springboard platform to grow disruptive brands and announced its first cohort in May.
Coca-Cola Amatil (Sydney, Australia) and The Coca-Cola Company (Atlanta, Georgia) have jointly acquired a 45 percent minority interest in Made Group (Melbourne, Australia). Founded in 2005, Made Group makes Cocobella coconut water, Rokeby Farms probiotic milk, Impressed cold-pressed
juice, Schnobs cold-brewed coffee and NutrientWater. The investment fits Coca-Cola Amatil’s and Coca Cola Australia’s growth plan to bolster performance in attractive growth categories in Australia. Coca-Cola Amatil is a bottler and distributor of Coca-Cola brands in the Asia Pacific. The announcement follows Coca-Cola’s acquisition of Organic & Raw Trading Co., which makes the Australian kombucha brand Mojo.
Ardra Inc. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), developer of a patented process to make natural leaf aldehyde using enhanced fermentation, has advanced to pilot scale and will produce samples of its ingredient for customer validation. Leaf aldehyde is a naturally occurring molecule with applications in flavors and fragrances and used mainly in green apple and citrus flavors. Although natural ingredients are in demand, extraction from natural sources is expensive. Ardra says its process reduces production costs for natural leaf aldehyde by half. Ardra also announced a new partnership with Mediphage Bioceuticals, which develops gene delivery platforms for personalized treatment of chronic disease, to produce DNA mini-strings on a large scale. Ardra was a presenting company at Nutrition Capital Network’s investor meeting in Canada last year, which was co-hosted with Natural Products Canada.
Cell-based meat startup Meatable (Amsterdam, Netherlands, and London, United Kingdom) has raised a $3.5 million investment led by BlueYard Capital, with additional funding from Atlantic Food Labs, Future Positive Capital, Backed VC and angel investors. Meatable is based on stem-cell technology and a patent created by scientists from Cambridge and Stanford universities. Meatable says it is poised to solve the problem of scalability in the cell-based meat market and can take one cell from a cow, chicken or pig to produce animal muscle and fat cells in just three weeks. The meat tissue “does not require fetal bovine serum to grow—the standard cellular medium upon which cells usually feed—which has been one of the biggest barriers to producing meat at scale,” said Dr. Mark Kotter, neurosurgery clinician scientist and lecturer at University of Cambridge and inventor of the patented Meatable technology.
AUA Private Equity Partners LLC has acquired Desi Natural Dahi (Bethpage, New York) from Derle Farms Inc. (Jamaica, New York), a family-owned milk and yogurt distributor. Desi develops branded Indian yogurts, called dahi, and cheese (paneer), and markets them mostly to ethnic retailers. The transaction was completed on behalf of AUA portfolio company Raymundos Food Group LLC, which owns refrigerated snacks and desserts targeted at Hispanic consumers. AUA said that Desi is America’s leading Indian dahi brand, meaning Raymundos “now owns two leading ethnic-oriented refrigerated brands targeting two of the fastest-growing populations in the United States.” The transaction also boosts Raymundos’ presence in the better-for-you category.
Incredible Foods Inc. (Boston, Massachusetts), maker of Perfectlyfree plant-based allergy-friendly frozen treats, announced that Stefan Catsicas, former chief technology officer of Nestlé S.A., has joined its board of directors. Catsicas, who has a doctorate in neurosciences, has also invested in the company through Skyviews Life Science Ltd. Perfectlyfree’s non-dairy frozen treats and fruit bites are made with natural, premium ingredients that are non-GMO, gluten-free and free from the eight most common food allergens. Food industry veteran Joseph J. Speroni, formerly of DSM Nutritional Products and Coca-Cola, has been appointed chief technology officer. Speroni has a doctorate in food science from Penn State.
North Castle Partners announced a growth investment in VitaCup Inc. (San Diego, California), maker of coffee and tea products infused with functional ingredients. First Beverage Ventures added to its previous investment alongside North Castle. VitaCup products are available in a Keurig-compatible format and sold primarily through e-commerce channels. “VitaCup is uniquely positioned to benefit from the favorable trends in coffee and vitamins, two large and growing categories,” said Alison Minter, North Castle’s managing director.
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Nutrition Capital Network is accepting applications for the remaining NCN Investor Meetings in 2018 from companies interested in presenting business plans to an audience of qualified investors. Interested investors are also invited to register to attend the events.
At Investor Meeting X, 14-18 companies working in nutritional ingredients, science and technology will present their business plans to investors. The SupplySide West event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 7 in the South Pacific Ballroom E at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The NCN XXIII: Fall Investor Meeting will feature 20-25 nutrition and health & wellness companies presenting their business plans. The event is scheduled for Nov. 27-28 at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio, San Franciso, California.