Nutrition Capital Network (NCN), an organization that connects investors with high-potential growth companies in the nutrition and health and wellness industry, has released its annual list of top 20 transactions in 2013.

Drawn from NCN’s Transaction Database*, the list includes mergers and acquisitions, in addition to financings, in healthy foods, ingredients, nutritional supplements, contract manufacturing, retail, and related Internet-based platforms and mobile technologies.

Healthy food leads deal count
Overall the pace of transactions in 2013 was brisk at volumes similar to 2012 indicating sustained interest by the investment community in the nutrition and health and wellness space. The healthy food category saw the most activity in 2013 led by 64 acquisitions. Healthy ingredients was the next most active category with 29 acquisitions.

Nutrition and Health and Wellness Industry Transactions

 Segment

2013

2012

2011

2010

Retail and Distribution

10

9

9

9

Supplements

10

17

19

15

Ingredients

29

26

31

27

Contract Manufacturing

8

5

4

8

OTC/Personal Care

4

9

12

8

Healthy Food: Organic, Natural, Functional

64

62

76

65

Others

26

31

29

8

Total M&A

151

159

180

140

Financings

89

101

63

62

Total transactions

240

260

243

202

Source: Nutrition Capital Network Transaction Database Counts are from actual listed transactions.

Top 20 Nutrition and Health and Wellness Industry Transactions of 2013 (M&As and financings, not ranked in order of deal size)

Segment

Target

Acquiror/Investor

Branded Food and Bev

Evol Foods

Boulder Brands

Branded Food and Bev

Earthbound Farm

WhiteWave Foods

Branded Food and Bev

Suja

Boulder Brands

Branded Food and Bev

Bare Snacks

NGEN, Avrio Capital, Silas Capital

Branded Food and Bev

Pirate Brands

BandG Foods

Branded Food and Bev

Plum Organics

Campbell Soup Company

Branded Food and Bev

Happy Family

Danone

Branded Food and Bev

Ella's Kitchen

Hain Celestial Group Inc.

Branded Food and Bev

Mary's Gone Crackers

Kameda USA

Branded Food and Bev

Halfpops

Sherbrooke Capital

Branded Food and Bev

Krave Jerky

Alliance Consumer Growth

Contract Manufacturing

Golden Boy Foods

Post Holdings

Contract Manufacturing

Nellson Nutraceutical

Kohlberg and Company

Ingredients

Epax AS

FMC

Ingredients

IGY Immune Techologies

Legacy Partners Wealth Strategies

OTC/Personal Care

The Honest Company

Institutional Venture Partners

Pet

Natural Balance

Del Monte

Retail and Distribution

Relay Foods

Battery Ventures, Tomorrow, QIM

Retail and Distribution

Sprouts files for IPO

 

Supplements

Santa Cruz Nutritionals

RoundTable Healthcare Partners

Source: Nutrition Capital Network

Organic food heads up largest transactions
The organic food category also yielded the year’s largest transaction in a merger of industry veterans, as WhiteWave Foods acquired the organic packaged produce company Earthbound Farm for approximately $600 million. “WhiteWave started life in its founder’s garage and Earthbound in a 2.5-acre backyard. The combination of these pioneering brands has created a powerhouse in the organic food industry,” said NCN Executive Director Mike Dovbish.

The second biggest transaction of 2013 was in the ingredients category, with FMC Corp. targeting Epax, a European manufacturer of  omega-3 fatty acids, for approximately $345 million. This was the fourth in a run of omega-3 deals following the acquisition of Martek Biosciences and Ocean Nutriton by DSM in 2011-12, and of Pronova BioPharma by BASF completed in 2013. NCN believes these deals have significantly consolidated the omega-3 fish oil sector, leaving algae-derived oil and specialty oil as the next focus of potential acquisition activity.

The third largest acquisition tracked by NCN, according to disclosed sales data, was BandG Foods’ purchase of Pirate’s Booty natural snack brand from VMG Partners for approximately $195 million.

Hot categories for target companies in 2013

  • Healthy food for babies and children saw three significant deals in the first half of 2013 as  Plum Organics (Campbell), Happy Family (Danone), and Ella’s Kitchen (Hain Celestial) were snapped up by strategic buyers eager to benefit from fresh growth in the baby and toddler category. Little Duck organic foods raised investment. “These young companies have experienced explosive double digit growth and are transforming a traditional, unimaginative category with innovative packaging and organic ingredient profiles,” observed Dovbish.
  • Raw pressed organic juice companies sustained momentum through 2013 and into 2014, differentiated by new technology, delivery, and subscription models. Notably, Suja, an NCN presenting company, received an $8+ million minority investment from Boulder Brands Investment Group, followed in January 2014 by an investment from Alliance Consumer Growth. “These new micro-juiceries could eventually become acquisition targets along the lines of Evolution Fresh Inc. (purchased by Starbucks in 2011) and Blueprint (Hain Celestial, 2012),” said Dovbish.
  • Activity in the online marketplace was distinguished by Internet-enabled farm-to-consumer and farm-to-business platforms, with Aglocal, AgSquared, FarmersWeb, Farmigo, and Good Eggs either raising investment or making acquisitions. “Until recently, farming and agriculture have seen little in the way of innovation in the form of technology-enabled tools,” noted Dovbish. “With the adoption of mobile devices and advancement of geolocation technology, startups have addressed this market and investors are taking note.”
  • Investors also maintained their interest in healthy home-delivered meals and ingredients, with Gousto, Relay Foods and Blue Apron all raising capital

NCN Presenting Companies find success
NCN has convened 19 investor meetings since 2007 and has a successful track record of matching entrepreneurs, growth companies and technology innovators with suitable investors, acquirers and strategic partners. Among all companies that have presented at NCN investor meetings, 49 percent have found financing or completed a transaction.

Notably in 2013, IGY Immune Technologies and Life Sciences Inc. entered into a $25 million equity financing led by Legacy Partners Wealth Strategies Inc. Other stand-outs include Suja and Ecologic Brands, which both raised investment. Past presenting companies that were acquired included Plum Organics and Happy Family in baby food. In the oat fiber ingredients category, Tate and Lyle acquired Biovelop. General Mills added to its healthy food portfolio by purchasing Immaculate Baking in 2013, following the acquisition of Food Should Taste Good healthy chips and snacks in 2012.

NCN to host first European investor meeting in 2014
Confident that the industry is fostering a consistent flow of innovative, high growth candidates, NCN is staging its first European Investor Meeting on May 5, 2014, in Geneva, Switzerland, bringing to four the number of meetings held throughout the year.

NCN’s next East Coast Investor Meeting is on May 19 to 20, 2014, at The Harvard Club of New York City, followed an ingredients investor meeting on Oct. 7, 2014, in Las Vegas, and its annual West Coast Investor Meeting on Nov. 3 to 4, 2014, at the Hilton San Francisco Financial District.

Companies invited to apply
NCN invites companies to apply to present their business plans at its four NCN investor meetings in 2014 by submitting a form online (there is no cost for applying). surveymonkey.com/s/NCNApplication2014

With top companies such as Bayer, The Clorox Company, Coca-Cola, DSM, DuPont, Hershey’s, Kellogg’s, Pepsi, and Unilever among its distinguished Cornerstone Investors, NCN provides an excellent forum for networking, while NCN Principals offer insights into new trends in the nutrition, natural products, and health and wellness industries.

Led by industry veterans and experienced investment professionals, NCN provides cutting-edge, research-based industry knowledge and serves as a gateway to connections, insights and resources that support the continued growth of the nutrition, natural products and health and wellness industries.

More information is available on nutritioncapital.com or by contacting Executive Director Mike Dovbish at mdovbish@nutritioncapital.com (415.202.5254).

*NCN’s Transaction Database tracks deals according to several industry segments, including dietary supplements, natural and organic food, functional food, ingredients, retail and distribution, contract manufacturing, personal care and household goods. The database is available to NCN’s more than 30 Cornerstone Investors.