News for December 23, 2020
Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:
Snack brand Peckish sells to Egg Innovations
Egg Innovations (Warsaw, Indiana), a Midwestern purveyor of free-range and pasture-raised eggs, has acquired snack brand Peckish (Sonoma, California). Born last year out of the Sonoma Brands incubator, Peckish packages hard-boiled eggs (supplied by Blue Sky Family Farms, Egg Innovations’ consumer-facing brand) with crispy dips for a high-protein snack with no added sugar. The companies say Sonoma will continue to be involved in supporting the brand’s expansion while helping grow Blue Sky Family Farms’ brand and retail presence.
Curator of clean and sustainable household products picks up $125M
Grove Collaborative (San Francisco, California), an online one-stop shop for natural personal care products, pet supplies and household essentials, has completed a $125 million financing round at a $1.3 billion valuation. The direct-to-consumer e-commerce site carries nontoxic, cruelty free, sustainably sourced products from brands including Mrs. Meyer’s, Burt’s Bees, Method, Seventh Generation and Dr. Bronner’s, as well as its own private label. Over the past two years, it’s also acquired gummy skincare company Sundaily, sexual wellness company Sustain Natural and video community Darby Smart. A certified B Corp, Grove Collaborative is working toward being plastic-free by 2025. Investors in the round include Morgan Stanley’s Counterpoint Global, Sculptor, NextView Ventures and Glynn Capital Management.
Loop pulls in $25M to make reusable packaging viable for CPGs, retailers
Procter & Gamble, Nestle, SUEZ, Sky Ocean Ventures and others have poured $25 million into TerraCycle’s (Trenton, New Jersey) global reuse platform, Loop. Launched in 2019, Loop aims to cut use of single-use plastics by partnering with CPGs and retailers to offer products in durable packaging that can be returned, cleaned, reused and eventually recycled after 20 to 100 uses. Currently it offers about 400 products in the United States, United Kingdom and France, with plans to expand operations into Canada, Japan and Australia.
With $180M Wholesome Sweeteners buy, Whole Earth looks to scale in natural channel
Fresh off its acquisition of Swerve, Whole Earth Brands (Chicago, Illinois) is adding more brands to its global platform of natural and alternative sweeteners with the acquisition of Wholesome Sweeteners (Sugar Land, Texas). Wholesome Sweeteners is a leader in fair trade and organic ingredients, including granulated sugar, honey, agave and allulose. Under terms of the deal, it will receive $180 million in cash, plus up to $55 million in additional earnouts through the end of 2021. “This transaction brings us additional scale that we believe will enhance our competitive position and help us expand consumers’ access to the delicious foods they love,” said Whole Earth CEO Albert Manzone.
Crave is the latest ghost kitchen to attract investors with $7.3M seed round
During the pandemic, investors have inundated ghost or virtual kitchens with both interest and funding. Recently, Crave Hospitality Group (Minneapolis, Minnesota), which operates a ghost kitchen called Crave Collective in Boise, Idaho, completed a $7.3 million seed round. It will use the funding to build out teams for four more locations set to open next year. The Boise facility opened in November, housing 16 restaurant concepts that accept orders digitally, prepare food in their designated kitchen space and then hand it off for delivery. VC firm StageDotO led the round, with participation from Capital Eleven and individual investors.
Baby food brand Serenity Kids eyes retail expansion with $3M round
Past NCN presenter Serenity Kids (Austin, Texas) hopes to bring its baby food pouches to more conventional and national grocery shelves with a new $3 million funding round. Using ethically sourced meats, organic vegetables and healthy fats, Serenity Now crafts a range of shelf-stable purees for babies and toddlers and sells them in stores including Whole Foods, Sprouts and Meijer. The brand says it’s set to triple its revenue this year and will use the funding to support product launches, leadership appointments and retail growth. Participating in the round were Wild Ventures, Birch Benders cofounders Lizzi Ackerman and Matt LaCasse, and other individual investors.
TurtleTree Lab takes in $6.2M to make milk in a lab
Creating real milk without the need for animals is the goal of biotech company TurtleTree Labs (Singapore), which has attracted $6.2 million in pre-series A funding from Green Monday Ventures, Eat Beyond Global, VBW Ventures and Verso Capital. TurtleTree uses a cell-based method to make milk and milk components to be used for infant nutrition and cow’s milk products. Unlike some companies in this space, its process originates with animal cells. With the fresh funding, it can further accelerate research and production of these components, which could provide companies that use dairy products with a less carbon-intensive supply solution. This funding round follows a $3.2 million seed round that closed in June.
British beauty brand BYBI enters the U.S. with $7M infusion
With its $7 million series A, BYBI (London, England) is turning its focus to growing internationally. Its range of skincare and beauty products made with clean, vegan ingredients is set to launch in more than 1,800 Target stores in January. The brand has pledged to become carbon neutral by the end of 2020 and offers a reusable packaging program. Point King Capital led the funding round, with additional participation from Unilever Ventures and Spiritual Gangster.
Lavit’s countertop drink dispenser lands strategic investment
Coca-Cola European Partners is exploring growth opportunities in the field of beverage delivery solutions with an investment in NCN past presenter Lavit (New York, New York). Lavit’s countertop cold beverage machine uses 100% recyclable aluminum pods that come in more than 25 flavors to dispense still or sparkling drinks. With the investment, it plans to build on additional product capabilities and scale. CCEP says the investment will allow it to test new dispensing solutions in an effort to reduce packaging waste and its carbon footprint. Earlier this year, it took a 25% stake in another drink dispensing solution, Innovative Tap Solutions.
Compostable packaging maker TIPA seals up $4M investment deal
For the last three years, TIPA (Hod HaSharon, Israel) has been working with food makers and other companies to swap out their plastic packaging for a more eco-friendly alternative. Now, a new $4 million investment from Millennium Food-Tech will help it continue to expand its biomaterial-based packaging, which is flexible like conventional plastics but disintegrates and decomposes like organic waste when it’s composted. The 10-year-old company has raised $53 million so far. It currently operates in Israel, Europe, the U.S. and Australia.
Arya raises $21M to support smallholder farms in India
Arya’s (Noida, India) has raised $21 million to help farmers in India—especially those outside of major agricultural centers—thrive. Arya operates more than 1,500 storage warehouses throughout the country, and offers financing programs and a digital marketplace where farmers can connect with buyers. Quona Capital led the series B round, with participation from LGT Lightstone Aspada and Omnivore, while other unnamed investors provided debt financing. Arya will deploy the capital to scale its financial technology platform and broaden its warehouse network.
Smucker sells off pet food brand Natural Balance for $50M
The J.M. Smucker Co. (Orville, Ohio) has divested premium pet food brand Natural Balance for $50 million, citing poor performance and the company’s desire to focus on core brands in its pet portfolio. The buyer is Nexus Capital Management, which will add Natural Balance to its broad portfolio. “We believe in the brand’s strong legacy and the ability to reinvigorate the business as an independent company,” said partner Damian Giangiacomo. Brian Connolly, cofounder of Castor & Pollux, has signed on to be the new CEO.
FODMAP-friendly food brand Fody looks to expand with $8.5M
Self-proclaimed gut-friendly food company Fody (Montreal, Quebec) plans to grow its distribution across North America and expand its marketing initiatives with $8.5 million in new funding. The capital comes from District Ventures Capital, Export Development Canada, New Acres Capital Ag & Food and Jonathan Ross Goodman. Fody sells sauces, snacks, condiments and other products that are free from common triggers of digestive discomfort, certified low-FODMAP, vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO. The four-year-old company founded by Glutino cofounder Steven J. Singer sells its products online and in more than 7,000 stores across North America.
Better Dairy nabs $2.1M to remove animals from the dairy supply chain
Though it’s currently in the early stages of R&D, startup Better Dairy (London, England) aims to commercialize the first of its animal-free dairy products by early 2022. A £1.6 million (about $2.1 million) seed round from Happiness Capital, CPT Capital, Stray Dog Capital, Veg Capital and angel investors will help it take the next steps to get there. Better Dairy addresses the lack of sustainability in dairy production by using yeast fermentation and biology to make products that are “molecularly identical” to traditional dairy, with an initial focus on the proteins whey and casein.
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