NCN News for April 24, 2018

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry

P&G to acquire Merck consumer-health business, including European supplement brands

The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G, Cincinnati, Ohio) has agreed to acquire the consumer health business of Merck KGaA (Darmstadt, Germany) for approximately €3.4 billion ($4.2 billion). Merck’s $1 billion consumer-health business has grown 6 percent over the past two years. The deal adds more than 900 products to P&G’s health care portfolio. Merck’s top consumer-health brands include supplements such as Neurobion vitamin B complex, Femibion for women during pregnancy, Bion3 vitamins, Seven Seas fish oil and Kytta herbal cream for pain—all of which are sold primarily in Europe, Latin America and Asia. P&G’s consumer-health care brands include Vicks, Metamucil, Pepto-Bismol, Crest and Oral-B. Seven Seas and Neurobion are faster growing than P&G’s household products, Financial Times reported.


Chinese consortium acquires Nature’s Care supplements in Australia

A Chinese state-backed consortium that includes China Jianyin Investment Ltd. and Tamar Alliance acquired a majority stake in Nature’s Care (Sydney, Australia). Details were not disclosed, but according to Reuters, the deal values Nature’s Care at around US$619.92 million. Nature’s Care, which also makes skin care products, is reported to be Australia’s third-largest maker of vitamins behind Swisse and Blackmores. The founding Wu family will retain the remaining minority stake in the 28-year-old company. Nature’s Care was pitched to potential buyers as a fast-growing vitamins company with net sales of $178 million in the year ending June 30, according to The Australian Financial Review. Chinese consumers consider supplements from Australia and the West to be of better quality than those locally produced, spurring Chinese enterprises to seek investments elsewhere. In the United States, GNC recently announced a $300 million investment by Harbin Pharmaceutical Group (Hayao), a large Chinese pharmaceutical company.


Mega Pharma acquires Latin American supplement company Garden House

Mega Pharma (Canelones, Uruguay) has finalized the acquisition of Garden House (Santiago, Chile) for an undisclosed amount, according to the Global Legal Chronicle. Garden House S.A. develops, produces and commercializes over-the-counter medicines and supplements based on plant extracts, nutraceuticals, vitamins and minerals. Garden House sells through the pharmaceutical retail industry in North, Central and South America.


Functional foods and beverages

Core Nutrition raises $39 million for functional beverages

Functional beverage company Core Nutrition LLC (El Segundo, California) has raised $38.7 million over the past 12 months from 48 investors, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Core Nutrition makes Core Hydration, a pH-balanced bottled water enhanced with electrolytes and minerals. Core Hydration had more than $93 million in sales in the 52-week period ending Jan. 28, up approximately 60 percent from the prior year, according to IRI data cited in an article on Bevnet. Core Nutrition also makes organic fruit-flavored bottled water and energy drinks.


Hearthside Food, a private-label bakery and nutrition bar manufacturer, changes ownership

Charlesbank Capital Partners and Partners Group have agreed to acquire Hearthside Food Solutions (Downers Grove, Illinois), a leading independent bakery, in partnership with management. The private label manufacturer is being acquired from Goldman Sachs and Vestar Capital Partners. Hearthside produces a broad range of nutrition bars, cookies, cereals and other baked foods and snacks, operating 25 manufacturing facilities across the United States and Europe. Hearthside acquired VSI, the largest European producer of nutrition bars in 2015, and U.S. bar manufacturer Standard Functional Foods Group in 2017.


Maker of Primal Bars attracts investment to grow distribution and brand awareness

NVM Private Equity has invested £3 million (US$4.18 million) of growth capital in The Primal Pantry (Maidenhead, United Kingdom), the maker of real food protein and snack bars. Funds will be targeted at growing retail distribution and in-store visibility, along with driving brand awareness through consumer marketing channels. Founded by Suzie Walker in 2014 at her kitchen table, Primal Bars are sold at more than 7,000 distribution points in the U.K. International sales account for 30 percent of revenue. Primal Pantry recently launched a new range of protein bars each containing 15g of plant-based protein.


Other transactions

Here closes $4 million Series A

Here (Chicago, Illinois), a maker of cold-pressed juices, dips and salad dressings, has closed a $4 million Series A funding round led by Listen Co., Food Navigator reported. Here uses high-pressure pasteurization (HPP) to produce its clean-label products, and sources its ingredients from local farms in the Midwest.


Maple Leaf Foods invests in insect protein farm

Entomo Farms (Norwood, Ontario), which raises insects for human consumption, has raised Series A funding from Maple Leaf Foods (Mississauga, Canada), a large consumer packaged meats company. Founded in 2014, Entomo Farms provides cricket and mealworm powders and whole roasted insects. “Our minority venture investment in Entomo is consistent with our vision to be the most sustainable protein company on earth,” said Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods. Funds will be used to expand production. Maple Leaf has been diversifying its protein portfolio, acquiring Lightlife refrigerated plant-based foods in 2017 and Field Roast Grain Meat Co., a maker of grain-based meat alternatives and vegan cheese products, in January.


McCain acquires TruLeaf indoor farming technology

In Canada, McCain Foods Limited (Toronto, Ontario) has completed a strategic investment in TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture (Bedford, Nova Scotia). TruLeaf has developed proprietary indoor vertical farming technology to grow fresh leafy greens year-round in an environmentally sustainable way. Founded in 2011, TruLeaf currently sells its produce under the GoodLeaf brand. McCain Foods’ stable of startups that use digital technologies to improve food production and distribution include Resson, which analyzes farm data, and Fiddlehead Technology, which predicts consumer demand for food. McCain is the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products, with annual sales in excess of CA$9 billion (US$7 billion).


Manufacturer, ingredient supplier merge in premium dry pet food segment

C.J. Foods Inc. (Bern, Kansas), a custom manufacturer of specialty dry pet food for super-premium brands, has completed the acquisition of Lortscher Animal Nutrition Inc. (also Bern, Kansas), a custom milling and ingredient supplier to the pet food industry for more than 60 years. LANI will keep its name and operate separately from C.J. Foods. C.J. Foods Holdings became a portfolio company of J.H. Whitney Capital Partners in 2014.


Bain Capital leads investment in Sustainable Restaurant Group

Sustainable Restaurant Group (Portland, Oregon), operator of Bamboo Sushi and QuickFish sushi restaurants, announced a strategic investment from Bain Capital Double Impact, joined by Kitchen Fund, to support expansion into new regional markets. Founded in 2008, Sustainable Restaurant Group is a collection of mission-focused restaurant concepts committed to sustainability and environmental and social change. The company says it has built a transparent supply chain that validates fishing practices and excludes severely overfished oceans, fish fraud and health risks associated with farm-raised fish. QuickFish has one location each in Portland and in Denver, Colorado. Bamboo Sushi operates four restaurants in Portland and one in Denver.


NCN updates: Presenting companies

Natreon receives patent on a natural bioactive for prevention and treatment of weight gain

Nutritional ingredient company Natreon (New Brunswick, New Jersey) has been granted a U.S. patent on Urolithin B for the prevention and treatment of weight gain. Urolithin B is a natural bioactive present in shilajit, a mineral-rich substance found in the Himalayans and other nearby mountains, and used in Ayurvedic medicine. International patents are pending. Natreon was also issued a U.S. patent on specific mitochondria-targeted antioxidants for treatment of mitochondrial disorders. Natreon studies and tests Ayurvedic ingredients to introduce into the food and beverage, dietary supplement, medical food and personal care industries. It was a presenting company at the NCN Ingredients & Technology Investor Meeting in 2014.

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