Recent transactions in the nutrition and health & wellness industry
Owner of Vita Coco acquires RUNA natural energy drinks
All Market Inc. (AMI, Framingham, Massachusetts), the maker of Vita Coco Coconut Water, has acquired RUNA energy drinks
(Brooklyn, New York). RUNA beverages are made with naturally caffeinated organic guayusa leaf grown in the Ecuadorian Amazon
and are certified non-GMO and Fair Trade. Guayusa is also high in polyphenols and low in tannins. RUNA is growing at more
than 50 percent YTD, according to AMI CEO Mike Kirban, who said consumers are “ready to leave behind conventional energy
drinks with synthetic ingredients and unnecessary additives, for healthier alternatives like RUNA.” Whipstitch Capital served
as the exclusive financial advisor to RUNA in the transaction. RUNA presented at NCN investor meetings in 2014 and 2015.
General Mills leads investment in GoodBelly Probiotics
NextFoods Inc. (Boulder, Colorado), the maker of GoodBelly Probiotics drinks and shots, has raised $12 million in an investment
round led by General Mills’ venture unit, 301 INC, with participation from Emil Capital Partners and others. NextFoods
has already partnered with General Mills to license the GoodBelly brand name for probiotic bars. Gut health is of growing
interest to food consumers, with the market projected to reach $64 billion by 2023, according to data cited by NextFoods.
GoodBelly was co-founded in 2007 by Todd Beckman, natural foods innovator, and Steve Demos, the founder of WhiteWave Foods.
Whipstitch Capital, an NCN Sponsor and Investment Banking Partner, served as the exclusive financial advisor to NextFoods
in the transaction.
Kellogg venture fund leads investment in SuperStarch
A patented, slow-release energy ingredient called SuperStarch has attracted a $5.75 million Series D funding round led by
eighteen94 capital, the venture capital fund of Kellogg Company. SuperStarch is an ingredient of The UCAN Company (Woodbridge,
Connecticut), a manufacturer and distributor of snack bars and drink mixes for athletes. SuperStarch is derived from non-GMO
corn and is cooked to deliver a slow release of complex carbs without a significant spike and crash in blood sugar levels.
The ingredient was originally created for children suffering from dangerous episodes of hypoglycemia. eighteen94 capital
will help UCAN expand its market from sports nutrition to active lifestyle consumers. UCAN and S2G Ventures also invested.
Ritual closes $70 million round for order-ahead service
Order-ahead app Ritual (San Francisco, California) announced the closing of a $70 million Series C round led by Georgian
Partners with participation from existing investors Greylock Partners, Insight Ventures and Mistral Venture Partners. Ritual
connects restaurants with customers to arrange lunch orders for themselves and their workplace teams. According to Ritual,
much of its recent growth has been driven by workplace teams adopting Piggyback, its social ordering and delivery feature;
service teams use it to collaborate on lunch orders, “creating a dynamic social element to ordering and picking up
lunch, which is often an otherwise individual experience.” Ritual has grown to 44,500 workplace teams.
ezCater announces $100 million Series D funding
ezCater (Boston, Massachusetts), a national marketplace for business catering, has announced a $100 million Series D investment
led by Wellington Management Company LLP, with participation from existing investors ICONIQ Capital, Insight Venture Partners
and others. The Series D brings ezCater’s total funding to $170 million. In the United States, businesses spend $22
billion every year on catering, according to Technomic data cited by ezCater.
Meditation and sleep app raises $27 million Series A
Calm (San Francisco, California), an app for meditation, mindfulness and sleep, has raised $27 million in Series A funding
at a $250 million pre-money valuation led by Insight Venture Partners with participation from Ashton Kutcher’s Sound
Ventures and singer Harry Styles. Calm generated $22 million in revenue in 2017, reaching an annual revenue run-rate of $75
million, and is on track to deliver more than three times the revenue growth for the fourth year in a row in 2018. Prior
to this round, Calm had raised $1.5 million from seed investors. “In a very short amount of time, meditation has moved
from the fringe of society to the mainstream,” said co-CEO Michael Acton Smith. Calm plans to use the new funding to
increase its international growth.
10% Happier raises $3.7 million in new funding
An app offering meditation courses by 10% Happier has raised $3.7 million, bringing the company’s total raise to date
to $5 million, according to TechCrunch. 10% Happier offers meditation for skeptics who would not naturally be attracted to
the practice. The app is based on the New York Times bestseller of the same name, written by co-founder and ABC News correspondent Dan Harris, who suffered a panic attack on air in 2014 prompting him to explore causes and cures.
Gladson acquires Nutritionix database
Gladson (Chicago, Illinois), a portfolio company of Wicks Capital Partners, has acquired Nutritionix, (Washington, D.C.),
developer of a global database and consumer tools providing nutrition facts on more than 90 percent of grocery items in the
U.S. and Canada, in addition to restaurant menu items. Nutritionix’s B2B services include database licensing and nutrition
data for brand owners, restaurants, and health and fitness apps. “The combined solutions of Gladson and Nutritionix
now provide the most complete and verified product content, nutrition and allergen information available from a single-source
provider, enabling businesses to publish transparent food product data that is complete, up-to-date and accurate,”
Gladson said in a statement. Gladson is a digital-asset and product-information management company.
Pasta maker raises $2.5 million to fuel growth
Artisanal pasta maker Sfoglini (New York, New York) has completed a $2.5 million Series A round of financing led by Almanac
Insights, an investment fund that backs companies with sustainable products and services to improve the food system. The
Sfoglini brand is made with 100 percent organic American grains combined with local ingredients. Sfoglini has around $1 million
in sales but is projected to grow to $10 million in the next few years. The company’s new upstate New York facility
is 10 times the size of the pasta maker’s original shop.
Good Eats acquired by Lakeside Foods
Lakeside Foods (Manitowoc, Wisconsin), a supplier of frozen and canned foods, is to acquire Good Eats Food Co. (Fayetteville,
Arkansas). Terms were not disclosed. Good Eats Food makes canned beans under the Serious Bean Co. brand and frozen vegetable
products under the Ruthie’s Twisted Harvest brand. “Consumer preferences, and therefore customer needs, are evolving
faster than ever. Good Eats injects a shot of entrepreneurial spirit into Lakeside,” said Lakeside’s president
and CEO Glen Tellock, who noted that Lakeside would provide scale for Good Eats. Lakeside Foods operates 13 plants with distribution in 14 countries.
Millstone Capital acquires Native Foods Café
Millstone Capital Advisors has purchased the Native Foods Café chain of 100 percent plant-based restaurants. Founded
in 1994 in Palm Springs, California, Native Foods has 13 restaurants in California, Colorado, Oregon and Illinois. The chain
has also demonstrated crossover appeal, with 75 percent of Native Foods’ consumers identifying as non-vegan and non-vegetarian.
Restaurant consultancy Baum & Whitman named plant-based dining its 2018 trend of the year, indicating that the trend is being
led by meat-eaters who are reducing their meat intake. “The plant-based dining segment has experienced solid year-over-year
growth and Native Foods Café has been at the forefront of this segment for well over 20 years,” said Robert
Millstone, managing director.
LOLA receives growth equity investment from Alliance Consumer Growth
A subscription service delivering organic tampons and pads and other reproductive care products, LOLA has closed $24 million
in Series B funding, according to TechCrunch. The investment was led by private equity firm Alliance Consumer Growth (ACG)
and supported by existing investors Spark Capital, Lerer Hippeau, and Brand Foundry Ventures. Launched in 2015, LOLA (New
York, New York) is designed to be a lifelong brand for women and a healthier alternative to mainstream brands. These products
contain no synthetic fibers, fragrance or deodorant, chlorine bleach, latex, parabens or formaldehyde. “LOLA is at
the epicenter of the shift towards transparency in the women’s health category,” said ACG Managing Partner Trevor
Dutch company to acquire E.T. Horn specialty chemicals
IMCD N.V. (Rotterdam, The Netherlands), a distributor of specialty chemicals and food ingredients, has signed an agreement
to acquire E.T. Horn Company (La Mirada, California). E.T. Horn was established in 1961 and is a specialty chemicals distributor
focused on coatings, plastics, construction, personal care, human food and nutrition, animal nutrition and nutraceuticals.
In 2017, the company generated revenue of $276 million and had approximately 200 employees.
Novacap acquires interest in nutrition bar manufacturer Noble Foods
Private equity firm Novacap is acquiring an interest in Noble Foods Nutrition Inc. (Pointe-Claire, Québec, Canada),
a manufacturer of nutrition and energy bars. Novacap plans to help Noble Foods drive growth and become the preferred contract
manufacturer of bars in North America. “This partnership will allow us to explore multiple acquisition and strategic
opportunities to expand its current manufacturing capabilities and geographic reach,” said Antoine Casimir, a principal
at Novacap. The three founders of Noble Foods will continue in their current roles and remain shareholders in the company.
The transaction was done with the support of Investissement Québec.
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