News for March 19, 2020
Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:
JJ’s Sweets becomes part of Madhava Foods
Madhava Foods, a seller of natural sweetener products such as honey, agave and coconut sugar, has acquired organic candy company JJ’s Sweets. The deal between the two Boulder, Colorado-based companies is intended to boost distribution and sales growth for JJ’s and its line of organic, dairy-free coconut caramels called Cocomels. JJ’s was founded in 2010 by JJ Rademaekers, who will join the Madhava Foods team. The company will continue production in its Boulder facility. JJ’s is a past NCN presenter.
Kidfresh celebrates 10th anniversary with fresh capital
Frozen kids’ meal brand Kidfresh (New York, New York) has secured an undisclosed amount of growth capital from Monogram Capital Partners, Emil Capital Partners and AccelFoods. The brand, which is a past NCN presenter, says it will use the funds to roll out new branding and innovation, and expand retail distribution of its frozen meals made with better-for-you ingredients and hidden vegetables. Last year, Kidfresh made its first foray into breakfast foods with a new line of frozen waffles.
Kerry grows plant-based portfolio with Pevesa Biotech buy
As demand for plant-based foods continues to soar, Kerry (Tralee, Ireland) expands its platform of plant-based protein offerings with the acquisition of Pevesa Biotech (Seville, Spain). Specializing in non-allergenic, non-GMO plant proteins, Pevesa offers organic pea and rice protein, as well as protein hydrolysates. Kerry says the deal will strengthen its position in the hydrolysed plant-protein space for specialized nutrition, as well as its ability to serve the rapidly growing plant-based-food market. The deal comes on the heels of Kerry’s launch of its Radicle line of plant-based ingredients for use in meat and dairy alternatives last year.
MycoWorks rounds up $17M for mushroom-based leather alternative
To meet growing demand for sustainable fashion products, MycoWorks (San Francisco, California) has developed a sustainable, fine mycelium leather alternative made from reishi mushroom. It’s already in use by some European luxury and footwear brands, but a new $17 million series A financing round will help the company scale its manufacturing operations. The round was led by tech investment firm DCVC Bio, with additional participation from Novo Holdings and 8VC, as well as Future Tech Labs, AgFunder, Susa Ventures, Cthulhu Ventures and Wireframe Ventures.
Overnight oats brand Brekki acquired by Cedar’s execs
Brekki (Carlsbad, California), a brand that took oats from the shelf to the refrigerated case, has been acquired by members of the executive team of Cedar’s, which makes hummus and other Mediterranean foods. Since Brekki emerged three years ago with a line of dairy-free, single-serve, ready-to-eat overnight oats, it has gained national distribution. Its acquirers say they’ll help propel the brand’s distribution and marketing. Once the deal is complete, Brekki will continue operating as a separate venture but will be manufactured and packed at Cedar’s production facilities in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Cedar’s completed construction of a new 125,000 square-foot production facility last year.
Greek yogurt brand Ellenos gets $18M boost from Kind founder
Equilibra Partners Management, the family office of Kind Snacks founder and executive chairman Daniel Lubetzky, has invested $18 million in craft yogurt brand Ellenos (Seattle, Washington). Ellenos started as a brick-and-mortar fresh-scooped yogurt bar before offering packaged products at retail in 2016. Its Greek yogurts are made using a proprietary, five-day process and are topped with fresh fruit purees and indulgent compotes. With the investment and partnership with Lubetzky, Ellenos plans to expand. In 2018, the brand secured an $18 million investment from Monogram Capital Partners to build a bigger production facility, which reportedly increased its capacity tenfold.
Mission-forward chocolate brand Tony’s attracts new investors
Tony’s Chocolonely (Amsterdam, Netherlands) will forge ahead with international growth fueled by a new minority investment from Belgian investment firm Verlinvest and London-based venture capital fund JamJar. The quirky Dutch chocolate company, which operates in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, aims to take slave labor out of the chocolate supply chain. With the investment, it also plans to create a factory and visitor’s center in the Netherlands called Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate Circus to educate visitors about inequality issues in the chocolate industry.
Yerbae investment will fuel foodservice, retail expansion
Sparkling water brand Yerbae (Scottsdale, Arizona) has reportedly received a minority investment from Vistar, a division of Performance Food Group that distributes products to vending, campus retail, specialty retail hospitality and concession accounts. In addition to opening up new outlets for distribution, the deal will also help the beverage maker ramp up manufacturing to support expanded retail distribution. Yerbae recently rebranded and reformulated its beverage to be sugar-free and zero-calorie.
Danone expands in UK market with acquisition of Harrogate Water
Danone Waters’ U.K. and Ireland subsidiary has acquired a majority stake in Harrogate Water, which owns the Harrogate Spring Water and Thirsty Planet brands. “This move will expand our offering in the U.K. and help to meet growing demand in sparkling water and on-the-go consumption,” Danone Waters U.K. & Ireland Managing Director James Pearson said in a statement. Danone’s existing bottled water offerings include Evian and Volvic.
BlueNalu gets $20M to make seafood from fish cells
One of several companies working to bring cultured seafood to market, BlueNalu (San Diego, California), has raised a $20 million Series A round. Stray Dog Capital, CPT Capital, Clear Current Capital and New Crop Capital co-led the round. According to the company, it’s developing a process in which “living cells are isolated from fish tissue, placed into cultured media for proliferation, and then assembled into great-tasting fresh and frozen seafood products.” In January, it announced a strategic partnership with the aquafeed company Nutreco to accelerate commercialization.
Retail fulfillment startup Fabric gets backing from Kraft-Heinz
Evolv Ventures, a fund backed by Kraft-Heinz, joined in a $110 Series B round for tech startup Fabric (New York, New York). The company uses proprietary robotics and software to give retailers a way to quickly fulfill home delivery and in-store pickup orders and replenish their stock. It already operates with a large grocery chain in Israel and is working to grow in the U.S. Corner Ventures, Aleph, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Innovation Endeavors, La Maison, Playground Ventures and Temasek also participated in the round, which was first announced in October.
Subscription meal service for dogs lands $9M
General Mills’ 301 Inc. led a $9 million Series A round for Pet Plate (New York, New York), a pet food subscription service for pet parents who are willing to pay a premium for quality, healthy food. Pet Plate was founded in 2016 and quickly grew into a national brand after an appearance on Shark Tank. With the new funding, the company says it will expand its offerings to include new recipes, organic treats and nutritional supplements, as well as continue building its team and corporate infrastructure. The round was also led by DFE Capital Management, with additional investment from Marco Polo, Fernbrook Capital Management, The Yard Ventures and Castor Ventures.
Lunchbox lines up $2M investment for restaurant ordering tech
In a $2 million seed round, tech company Lunchbox Technologies (New York, New York) secured investments from Primary, 645 Ventures and individual investors. Under Lunchbox’s model, small restaurant chains pay a setup fee and monthly subscription fee for software that streamlines a number of their pain points, including digital ordering, delivery dispatch, catering and sales analytics.
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