NCN News for May 9, 2018

Recent transactions in the global nutrition and health & wellness industry


Frutarom acquisition will boost IFF’s standing in natural ingredients 

After making 39 acquisitions in the past five years, Frutarom (Haifa, Israel) looks set to be acquired itself by International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (New York, New York) in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $7.1 billion, including assumption of debt. Frutarom is a flavors and natural ingredients company with production and development centers on six continents. Natural ingredients drive more than 75 percent of sales—expected to total more than $1.6 billion in 2018—according to a joint news release. Frutarom’s portfolio includes fast-growing categories such as natural colors, enzymes, antioxidants and health ingredients. By combining with Frutarom, IFF says it is accelerating its Vision 2020 strategy to create a global leader in taste, scent and nutrition. In March, flavors and fragrances competitor Givaudan agreed to purchase a 40 percent stake in the French natural ingredients company Naturex for €522 million (US$644.9 million on March 26).

Seventure Partners leads investment in European microbiome developer

A-Mansia Biotech S.A. (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium), a microbiome company developing products based on the Akkermansia muciniphila bacterium, announced a €13 million (US$15.7 million on April 27) first close of its Series A financing, led by Seventure Partners. Isolated in 2004 at Wageningen University, A. muciniphila is one of the most abundant species found in the gut microbiota. Research at two university laboratories has demonstrated that daily administration of live A. muciniphila can improve metabolic disorders and inflammatory conditions in mice fed with a high-fat diet. The first human exploratory study of A. muciniphila in volunteers is ongoing. Proceeds will be used to advance the development and commercialization of a proprietary nutritional supplement based on A. muciniphila that is focused on health and immunity, normal glycaemia, normal blood cholesterol levels and prevention of excessive weight gain. 

Avrio Capital invests in Sol Cuisine vegan protein

Avrio Capital Inc. led a CA$13 million (US$10.1 million on May 3) round of growth capital for Sol Cuisine Inc. (Toronto, Ontario), partnering with Export Development Canada and InvestEco Capital Inc. Sol Cuisine is a legacy brand of wheat- and gluten-free plant-based proteins for retail and food-service customers. The company offers veggie burgers, breakfast patties, tofu and other frozen and fresh meat alternatives. Sol Cuisine was founded in 1980 as a manufacturer of high quality tofu for vegetarian restaurants. Avrio Fund III, which is focused on agricultural and food technology, has now concluded 11 investments out of its third fund, including Farmer’s Edge, Manitoba Harvest, Wolf Trax and Brookside Foods.

Tyson invests in Future Meat

Future Meat Technologies (Jerusalem, Israel) announced a $2.2 million seed investment co-led by Tyson Ventures, the venture capital arm of Tyson Foods Inc. (Springdale, Arkansas). Future Meat is a biotechnology company developing a platform to manufacture meat directly from animal cells, without the need to raise or harvest livestock. The Neto Group, S2G Ventures, BitsXBites and Agrinnovation also participated. Tyson is also an investor in Memphis Meats, a startup in cultured meat produced directly from animal cells, and in the plant-based protein producer Beyond Meat.

Après closes seed round for plant-based protein beverage

Après (San Francisco, California), a digital-first company offering an organic plant-based protein beverage, has closed a $1.1 million seed series fundraising round led by Rocana Venture Partners. Après launched direct-to-consumer sales nationally in November 2017, generating momentum from its online community. The beverage—which contains coconut oil, coconut water and protein from pea, chia, cacao and hemp—is designed to provide essential nutrition and post-workout replenishment and targets “the modern wellness consumer,” specifically women.

CAVU leads pre-series B round in sparkling water brand

Waterloo Sparkling Water (Austin, Texas), a beverage brand launched in the autumn of 2017, has announced a $4 million convertible, pre-series B round of financing led by CAVU Ventures. Funds will be used to increase distribution and support promotions at retail. Waterloo recently announced that its zero-calorie, naturally flavored beverages will be packaged in BPA-free cans and feature ingredient certifications like Non-GMO Project Verified and Certified Gluten Free. Waterloo said it sees sales velocity accelerating and has landed distribution in many national retailers. Waterloo began expanding distribution to Walmart in 22 states in May.

Inocucor acquires crop nutrition producer

Inocucor Corporation (Denver, Colorado), a developer and producer of biological crop inputs for high-value produce and row crops, has acquired ATP Nutrition (Oak Bluff, Manitoba, Canada), a producer of science-based plant nutrients. Nutrients such as those produced by ATP Nutrition and biologicals such as Inocucor’s are designed to work together to boost plant health and grower yields, according to an Inocucor press release. A key initiative of the new entity will be a collaborative effort to develop products that drive the genetic potential of crops by combining biologicals and plant nutrition.

Foundry invests in men’s NPC brand

The Foundry, a private equity company run partly with funds from the $1.7 billion sale of the Australian vitamins giant Swisse, has acquired a 50 percent stake in Hunter Lab (Melbourne, Australia), maker of men’s premium natural skincare products, according to The Australian Financial Review. The Foundry is run by former Swisse CFO and a major shareholder in Swisse, which was sold to China’s Biostime International in 2015. Hunter Lab was founded in 2013 in response to the “frustration with the current uninspired, chemical-intensive, repackaged-feminine products which pervade today’s male skincare market,” Hunter Lab says on its website. The Foundry has also invested in the nutritional supplement firm WelleCo.

Nestlé acquires customized dog nutrition business

Nestlé Purina PetCare (Gatwick, UK) has acquired a majority stake in (London, UK), a direct-to-consumer, customized dog nutrition business from Draper Esprit. was launched in summer 2014 and creates custom kibble based on a proprietary algorithm that defines a dog’s nutritional profile. will operate as a stand-alone entity. Earlier this year J.M. Smucker agreed to buy Ainsworth Pet Nutrition for $1.9 billion, and General Mills announced the acquisition of Blue Buffalo in a deal valued at $8 billion. “Personalized pet nutrition, along with direct-to-consumer subscription services, are expanding rapidly and this move underlines our focus on investing in high-growth categories and acting on consumer trends,” said Bernard Meunier, CEO, Nestlé Purina PetCare; Europe, Middle East and North America.

SPINS to benefit from FoodFacts nutrition awareness platform

SPINS (Chicago, Illinois), a provider of retail consumer insights, analytics and consulting for the natural, organic and specialty products industries, has acquired FoodFacts Inc. (Edison, New Jersey), a consumer-awareness platform for transparency in nutrition data, ingredients, allergens and food sensitivities. FoodFacts brings algorithms for coding complex intolerances, robust product health scoring, consumer profiles, recommendation engines, and patents. “These benefits will accelerate SPINS’ mission of increasing the presence and accessibility of better-for-consumer products in North America, arming its retailer and brand clients with a more in-depth view into their products,” SPINS said in a press release.

Milk Stork raises $900K

Milk Stork (Palo Alto, California), a company that ships breast milk to make life easier for working mothers, announced $900,000 in new seed financing. Milk Stork was founded in 2015 to meet the needs of moms who travel on business but want to provide breast milk for an infant at home. Users can ship milk overnight in a Milk Stork cooler, which is pre-delivered to a hotel or other travel destination. Clif White Road Investments, which was set up by the owners and founders of CLIF Bar, led the investment; The Urban Innovation Fund and angel investors also participated. Milk Stork says it has more than 100 corporate partners. The company plans to offer its services internationally by the end of the year.

Purple Carrot meal kits attract investment from Fresh Del Monte Produce

Purple Carrot (Needham, Massachusetts), a plant-based meal kit company, announced that Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. (Coral Gables, Florida) has made a $4 million equity investment in the company. For Purple Carrot, the strategic investment will also support supply chain efficiency, access to the retail channel, and opportunities for category expansion. Purple Carrot, which launched in October 2014, delivers fresh pre-portioned ingredients with step-by-step guidance for people to cook healthy plant-based meals at home. “Securing this strategic investment from Fresh Del Monte is a huge validation of our business model,” said Andy Levitt, Purple Carrot’s founder and CEO.

ZeroCater raises $12 million to expand snacks and catering to Fortune 500

ZeroCater (San Francisco, California), a provider of office catering and snacks, has raised a Series B funding of $12 million, led by Cleveland Avenue LLC with participation from Romulus Capital and Struck Capital. The company plans to expand into new markets in 2018, targeting Fortune 500 companies. ZeroCater says it is positioned to take advantage of evolving corporate culture reflecting a millennial workforce. ZeroCater’s service starts by matching up an office with restaurant partners and snack selections; an account manager customizes meal menus and snacks, which are approved through the ZeroCater dashboard; finally, employees submit ratings and feedback. ZeroCater was founded in San Francisco in 2009.

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