Protein Plays Big in Top 2015 Acquisitions and Investments

March 22, 2016
Michael Crane

Healthier meat, plant-based protein, and beverages dominated among top nutrition and health and wellness transactions in 2015, reports Nutrition Capital Network.

In a year that set records for equity investments and acquisitions in the nutrition and health and wellness industry, 2015 put protein center stage in many of the top acquisitions of the year, reports Nutrition Capital Network (NCN; San Diego, CA). Both healthier meat products and plant-based proteins dominated in NCN’s Branded Food & Beverage acquisition category, which includes natural, organic, and functional brands.

Among the top 10 acquisitions on NCN’s list, plant proteins figured prominently in several international acquisitions. For instance, Monde Nissin purchased Quorn foods, a U.K.-based manufacturer of meat-substitute mycoprotein products, for $832 million-one of the industry’s largest acquisitions. Another top plant protein acquisition was WhiteWave’s purchase of Canadian plant-based powder and bar manufacturer Vega for $550 million. Additionally, Glanbia acquired thinkThin protein bars, featuring both whey and plant proteins, for $217 million.

Meat alternatives also proved to be a top draw for private equity investors in 2015, with Impossible Foods raising $108 million for development of entirely plant-based meats and cheeses. Along similar lines, Soylent attracted $20 million for its vegan powdered meal replacements, and Beyond Meat raised $17 million for its work on meat substitutes made primarily from soy and pea protein.

 

Big Food Eyes Healthier Meat

Another trend from NCN’s top acquisitions list of 2015 is the strong interest of large, mainstream brands in healthier meat snacks and staples.

“Big Food demonstrated it is willing to pay high multiples for growing brands that reflect changing consumer tastes for better food choices, with Hershey and Hormel both shelling out for healthier meat products,” says Grant Ferrier, CEO and co-founder of NCN.

Last year. Hershey acquired Krave natural jerky snacks for $240 million and Hormel purchased Applegate Farms, known for its additive-free natural deli meats, sausages, and bacon, for $775 million. What’s more, the trend seems to be continuing into 2016, with General Mills acquiring EPIC Provisions, a manufacturer of protein bars made with grass-fed beef, earlier this year, NCN notes.

 

Healthy Beverages Hold Strong

Aside from protein and meat, healthy beverages “sustained their investor appeal in 2015,” NCN reports. Harmless Harvest and Califia Harms both secured $50 million commitments for their coconut water and almond milks, respectively. And more mainstream brands also showed an interest in healthy beverages, with Coca-Cola investing in juice company Suja, and Campbell Soup and Kleiner Perkins investing in Juicero, a start-up working on developing a machine for home juice.

By contrast, the supplements category appears to have fallen “out of favor” with investors in 2015, reports NCN, with transactions declining or leveling off in both the supplements and ingredient category. NCN suggested the leveling off is “most likely due to product integrity uncertainties in the supplement industry.”

 

Read more:

2015 Was Record Year for Health and Wellness Investment Deals

Ingredient Suppliers Host Entrepreneur Contests to Help Start-Ups Launch Natural Products

Bean Snacks Are Trending

 

Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine
michael.crane@ubm.com