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The Coca-Cola Company (Atlanta, Georgia.) has acquired Organic & Raw Trading Co. (Willunga, South Australia), maker of the Mojo brand of naturally fermented organic kombucha drinks. Kombucha is the fastest-growing beverage category in Australia, according to Coca-Cola. Anthony Crabb, co-founder and CEO of Organic & Raw, developed the hand-crafted probiotic drink in his home in 2010. Crabb and his sales and marketing director will remain in their current roles. Coca-Cola first backed kombucha in 2013 when its Venturing & Emerging Brands unit invested in Health-Ade Kombucha through a partnership with beverage advisory firm First Beverage Ventures, but Mojo is its first kombucha purchase. Coca-Cola also has purchased the Costa coffee chain; recently invested in sports drink brand BodyArmor; and is “closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD [cannabidiol] as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages.”
The Hershey Company (Hershey, Pennsylvania,) will acquire Pirate Brands, including Pirate’s Booty, from B&G Foods Inc. (Parsippany, New Jersey) for $420 million or approximately $360 million net of tax benefits. The deal strengthens Hershey’s position in better-for-you snacking. Pirate’s Booty, which has no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, is a growing brand in the $2.5-plus billion cheese puffs category. Its retail sales increased more than 8 percent year-over-year. Pirate Brands will operate within Amplify, Hershey’s better-for-you snacking hub that also houses Skinny Pop, Paqui and OatmeGeorgia Other Pirate brands are Smart Puffs and Original Tings.
AuMake International Limited (Sydney, Australia) announced the acquisition of 50 percent of Herbsmart Pharmaceutical Pty Ltd (Wentworth Point, Australia) with an option to acquire a further 40 percent. AuMake is an ASX listed retail company connecting Australian suppliers directly with daigou (overseas personal shoppers) and Chinese tourists. Herbsmart’s range consists of innovative milk products, including Herbsmart Valerian Milk, which combines milk powder with valerian root and other natural supplements formulated to aid sleep. AuMake's ownership comes at “nil cost in recognition of the Company's contribution to the development of the Herbsmart brand.” Herbsmart’s Valerian Milk will be promoted on China’s JiaJia TV shopping channel, which has a viewership of 385 million people, predominantly aged 60-plus, by the end of September 2018.
Bobo’s (Boulder, Colorado), a brand of baked oat bars, has raised a Series B round of funding led by repeat investors Boulder Investment Group Reprise (BIGR) and Ridgeline. Financial details were not announced, but an SEC form D filed for brand owner Simply Delicious Inc. in September indicated an equity offering of $3.5 million. An earlier $8 million Series A round of funding in February 2017 supported Bobo’s retail expansion in the mass market, and the launch of vegan, gluten-free products including Toast’r, a breakfast pastry made with oats and garbanzo bean flour. According to CEO TJ McIntyre, Bobo’s revenue has more than doubled since the Series A, and the company is looking to triple business by 2020. Former executives of DanoneWave and Colorado
Premium Foods will join the Bobo’s team.
MidOcean Partners has acquired Florida Food Products (Eustis, Florida), a manufacturer of natural and clean label ingredients, from Kainos Capital. MidOcean’s investment will be used to drive Florida Food Products’ growth and expansion. Financial terms were not disclosed. Founded in 1954, Florida
Food Products (FFP) is a manufacturer in the clean label “cure market,” offering alternatives to synthetic meat ingredients like curing agents, accelerators and stabilizers. FFP also makes vegetable juice concentrates and derivatives for food applications. Former executives of the flavors and fragrances company Agilex will serve on FFP’s board of directors.
Miss Fresh (Hong Kong), an e-commerce startup that delivers fresh produce in 20 Chinese cities, has raised $450 million from investors including Goldman Sachs and Tencent Holdings Ltd., China’s largest gaming and social media company, according to Reuters.
Ripe Technology Inc. (San Francisco, California) completed a $2.4 million series seed financing led by Maersk Growth and innovation hub Relish Works. Founded in 2017, Ripe.io provides enterprise blockchain technology for the food and agricultural industry to improve traceability, flavor, sustainability and safety through its technology platform. “There is enormous potential for the blockchain of food to transform supply chains by increasing visibility among all partners, increasing collaboration, and identifying efficiencies,” said Peter Jorgensen, venture partner of Maersk Growth. Maersk is one of the world’s largest shipping companies.
Castanea Partners has invested in West Coast Fitness LLC (Elk Grove, California), a franchisee and area representative of Orangetheory Fitness. West Coast Fitness operates 10 Orangetheory studios and oversees an additional 17 studios owned by other franchisees in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. The founders of West Coast Fitness will remain significant shareholders and continue to lead the business. Orangetheory blends science, coaching and technology to elevate heart rate and help burn calories. Orangetheory has 1,000 studios in the United States and 18 other countries.
High Road Craft Ice Cream Inc. (Atlanta, Georgia) has acquired craft sorbet maker Ciao Bella Gelato Co. Inc. (Marietta, Georgia). The combined company plans to explore opportunities in the growing craft frozen dessert and novelty categories. Sherbrooke Capital worked closely with Ciao Bella, a portfolio company, to develop its brand and growth strategy and optimize operations. “High Road’s acquisition reaffirms the confidence we’ve had all along in the Company’s success and its potential,” said John Giannuzzi, managing general partner at Sherbrooke. Ciao Bella was an NCN Presenting Company in 2014.
A subsidiary of Canadian franchisor MTY Food Group Inc. (Saint-Laurent, Quebec) has acquired most of the assets of the sweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt franchise (Richmond, Virginia) for an estimated consideration of $35 million. sweetFrog currently has 254 franchised locations and 78 corporate-owned locations. Of those 332 restaurants, 324 are in the United States. In the last 12 months, the sweetFrog network generated more than $92 million in system sales.
Prospectors Cold Brew Coffee (Grand Rapids, Michigan) has completed the acquisition of Bloom Ferments Kombucha (Kentwood, Michigan). Both companies started in the Incubator Kitchen at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, and both say they have experienced robust growth through grocery retailers and food service establishments across Michigan. The global kombucha market is projected to reach $5.45 billion by 2025 and is likely to expand at a CAGR of 23 percent over the forecast period, the companies said in a released statement. Bloom Ferments’ bottled kombucha is hand crafted in small batches using organic ingredients.
The Zell Founders Fund, a student-led venture fund at the University of Michigan, has made a $100,000 investment in the organic snack brand SMPL (New York City, New York). The organic superfood bites are made with fruit, nuts and superfoods in a single-serve, re-sealable package. SMPL has launched online and is rolling out to retailers in New York City. Funds are being used for distribution, branding and marketing. SMPL was founded 2016 by alumnus Ellis Fried out of personal dissatisfaction with energy bars that were either heavy on sugar or didn't deliver on taste.
DuPont Nutrition & Health (Wilmington, Delaware) is expanding its R&D efforts by creating a clean label hub at its Brabrand facility in Denmark. Intended to
boost the company’s project pipeline in healthy nutrition and clean label texturant offerings, six new employees will join the existing team to focus on Ingredient and process development. DuPont Nutrition & Health is seeking creative scientists and engineers to identify ways to convert sustainable and natural raw materials into clean label solutions without compromising taste, texture or nutrition.
Land O'Lakes Inc. (Arden Hills, Minnesota) has picked six candidates for its 2018 Dairy Accelerator: Blue Marble Ice Cream, which makes organic ice creams and sorbets; Norr Skyr (organic skyr yogurt); SmashPack (protein-fruit smoothie pouches); Tulip Tree Creamery (cheese and butter); Darling Pickle Dips (cream cheese dips); and Numa Foods (milk chews with vitamins). Throughout the three-month course, participants will meet with both Land O'Lakes and external mentors.
Dutch natural and organic food company Wessanen has acquired Abbot Kinney's, a maker of organic almond and coconut yogurt alternatives and vegan ice cream. Both companies are based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Founded in 2014, Abbot Kinney's has built up a leading position in its category in health food stores in Netherlands and is expanding in key markets across Europe, Wessanen said. Wessanen makes natural, organic and vegetarian foods; its brands include Bjorg, Clipper, Kallo, Isola Bio, Whole Earth and Zonnatura. Dairy alternatives are one of Wessanen’s core categories. In the first half of its 2018 fiscal year Wessanen reported €323.6 million (US$376.3 million on July 20) in revenue, slightly down from the prior year.
Arbor Investments will acquire the Exclusive Brands (EB) business of Mars Petcare US Inc. (Nashville, Tennessee), including the manufacture of private-label pet food products. “EB provides us with a proven platform for both internal and acquisition-driven growth opportunities,” said Arbor Senior Operating Partner Tim Fallon. Exiting the private label business will allow Mars Petcare US to focus on its branded portfolio, which includes Pedigree, Iams, Greenies and more. Mars entered the natural pet food segment with the acquisition of Nutro Natural Pet Food in 2007.
Hummus appetizer brand Modern Pod Co. (Providence, Rhode Island) has raised $2 million in a Series A fundraising round, according Modern Pod’s website. Hummus Pods consist of flavored hummus encased in a multigrain shell. Launched nationally in February 2017, the vegan snacks are pre-baked, fresh frozen and portable. Hummus Pods were the first venture to be launched through The Food Innovation Nexus at Johnson & Wales University, known for culinary education. The hummus snacks were introduced at Natural Products Expo East in 2016.
Filaction, a Quebec development fund, and Natural Products Canada (NPC) have invested in BioTEPP Inc. (Mont St-Hilaire, Quebec), a biotech company with an innovative biopesticide that uses a naturally occurring microorganism to reduce codling moth damage to apple, pear, plum and walnut trees. Capital will be used to accelerate expansion and commercialize BioTEPP’s flagship product Virosoft CP4. BioTEPP is NPC’s fifth investment since it launched its portfolio in 2017 to help innovative Canadian natural product companies attract capital. Nutrition Capital Network and NPC co-host an annual investor meeting in Canada.
Biotech startup NextFerm Technologies (Yokneam Illit, Israel) and Mascoma LLC, a subsidiary of Lallemand Inc. (Montreal, Canada), have signed a commercial joint development agreement to expand their collaboration in the biofuels category. Conversion of grain starch and fiber into fuel ethanol has an estimated annual production value of $30 billion in the United States and Canada and $40 billion globally. The joint project will focus on isolating and improving natural yeast strains with enhanced resistance to environmental pressure. NextFerm, which also develops fermentation-derived nutrients for supplements, food, infant nutrition and animal feed, was presenting company at the NCN Europe II Investor Meeting in 2015. Lallemand is a global player in yeast, bacteria and specialty ingredients.
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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. Presenter applications are due Oct. 12.
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.