15 Recent Major Natural Food Company Acquisitions Total Billions

1
J.M. Smucker Acquired Sahale Snacks - Those Flavored Nut Snacks

Sahale Snacks street team spreading the food
Sahale Snacks street team spreading the food. Sahale Snacks

Big food companies have spent billions of dollars acquiring smaller food companies in 2014 and 2015. Here are just a few of the deals driven by growth and consumer desires for natural and organic foods.

Josh Schroeter and Edmond Sanctis founded Sahale Snacks in 2003 in response to the simply unsatisfying trail mixes and energy bars they had eaten while hiking. Eleven years later, in mid-2014, the J.M. Smucker Company acquired Sahale Snacks® for an undisclosed amount.

Benefits of the Acquisition

The acquisition instantly brought Smucker a line of popular, natural snacks to its portfolio of food products. Sahale Snacks also brought Smucker some healthy revenue, expected to be about $50 million in 2014. 

The year before Smucker acquired the company, Sahale landed a deal that added to its already impressive retail accounts — distribution in 6,000 7-Eleven convenience stores, where customers are hungry for more healthy snack options.

J.M. Smucker executives explained that Sahale Snacks was attracting for several reasons:

  • It had created a popular premium lifestyle brand.
  • Sahale had created unique ingredient combinations and interesting flavor profiles that would connect Summers with new consumers in the on-trend snacking category.
  • The Sahale Snacks product line instantly added more gluten-free and non-GMO choices to the Smucker product portfolio.

It's a natural.

2
Peet’s Coffee & Tea Acquired Mighty Leaf Tea Company

Mighty Leaf Tea
Mighty Leaf Tea grew through great teas and smart marketing until it was acquired by Peet's Coffee and Tea. Mighty Leaf Tea

Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Inc. acquired Mighty Leaf Tea Company for an undisclosed amount in August of 2014.

The big goal: Strengthen and accelerate the company's growth in the premium tea market. 

The back story: Jill Portman and Gary Shinner founded Mighty Leaf Tea in 1996, starting with a shop and leading into a healthy retail tea business based on premium whole leaf tea pouches and loose leaf teas. 

Benefits of the Acquisition

Peet's appreciated that both of the companies are based in the Bay Area with shared core values focused on quality and deep commitment to craft. At the time, Dave Burwick, president and chief executive officer of Peet’s Coffee & Tea noted, "Mighty Leaf is a fantastic premium brand, known for its artisan teas and signature hand-designed mesh tea pouch."

How fantastic? Peet's rebranded its line of teas under the Mighty Leaf Tea brand in 2015.

Here's Who is Buying ALL Of the Artisan / Craft Coffee Companies

The massive mergers and acquisitions in the coffee industry are a whole topic in itself. The majority of acquisitions in the coffee world are happening thanks to JAB Holding Co, a private German investor group which is piecing together a worldwide coffee empire.

JAB had acquired Stumptown Coffee. Then Peet's Coffee (which you've probably figured out JAB owns) announced that it had acquired Intelligentsia Coffee. This acquisition anchored in a popular craft coffee roaster with superb urban locations central to a Yuccie (creative hipster) customer demographic.

Only a few weeks later, JAB Holding Co. acquired Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., maker of single-serve coffee brewers. They also own Caribou Coffee.

3
Snyders Acquired Diamond Foods for Kettle Chips and Nut Snacks

Cape Cod potato chips and Kettle chips
Two natural potato chip brands merge even before the merger is done. Susie Wyshak

What do you get when you combine leadership in the pretzels category with Kettle Chips and nuts? Natural growth in the snacking category.

Diamond Foods was looking for a buyer when Snyder's-Lance made a $1.27 billion acquisition offer to acquire the company for its popular snack food brands including Kettle Chips, Pop Secret popcorn, Diamond of California culinary nuts.

Benefits of the Acquisition

A publicly traded company, Snyder's-Lance already owned a broad line of natural food brands including Cape Cod potato chips, Snyder's of Hanover pretzels, Late July, Tom's and several others. 

Given the growth in natural snacks, this is a match made in salty-sweet heaven.

NOTE: At the time of writing, this deal was in progress so the $ facts may change. 

4
American Halal Acquired Mediterranean Snacks

Mediterranean Snacks features and benefits
Mediterranean Snacks won with its thoughtful food product strategy. Mediterranean Snacks

American Halal Company (best known for its Saffron Road ethnic frozen meal line) acquired Mediterranean Snack Foods Company for an undisclosed amount in August of 2015.

Founded ten years earlier, in 2005, Mediterranean Snack Foods Company is based in Boonton, New Jersey and produces legume-based, gluten free snack foods.

Benefits of the Acquisition

Take one look at the Mediterranean Snack Foods snacks lineup, and their appeal is clear.

From healthy snacks to quick meals on the go, the company filled gaps and developed products — 50 Natural lentil / legume-based chips, crackers, and veggie snacks at the time of acquisition — mapping to the trend in tasty plant-based foods.

The "boxes" that Mediterranean Snack Foods Company could check off included: 

  • Gluten-Free
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • high in protein and fiber
  • clean labeled (no artificial stuff)
  • calorically smart, meaning not too fattening.

Talent is a draw for acquisitions too. Vincent James, the company's CEO, had experience from big food companies Nabisco and Kraft, which could add leadership and growth potential to American Halal, which itself was not such an old company.

5
Campbell's Soup Acquired Fresh Natural Ready-to-Eat Food Maker

Garden Fresh Salsa products
Garden Fresh Salsa instantly added a huge line of fresh prepared foods to the Campbell's Soup Mix. Garden Fresh Salsa

Campbell Soup acquired refrigerated salsas, hummus and dip maker Garden Fresh Gourmet for $231 million in June of 2015.

You can't help but think "American entrepreneurial dream" in the Detroit News story of how Jack and Annette Aronson founded the company in 1997 the back of their Clubhouse Bar-B-Q. Eighteen years to jackpot! If there's still an American dream, this is it.

Big Benefits of the Acquisition

Garden Fresh Gourmet had sales of $110 million the year before it got acquired. For Campbell's, the acquisition adds a new dimension to their mix: Garden Fresh Gourmet brings a food product line (including a mind-blowing variety of hummus dips) that appeals to food shoppers' desires for fresh yet convenient natural and organic foods.

The most awesome part? Campbell would reportedly keep making Garden Fresh's salsas "in the five-gallon buckets Aronson used to build the company and its reputation."

6
Mondelez International Acquired Allergen Free Brand Enjoy Life Foods

Just one of Enjoy Life's allergen free snack foods
Enjoy Life created a line of foods to give peace of mind to consumers suffering from allergies. Enjoy Life

Major multi-national Mondelez International acquired Enjoy Life Foods for an undisclosed amount in February of 2015.

Founded in 2001, Enjoy Life Foods is based in Schiller Park, Illinois and was an early leader in the now-popular "free from" category, making foods for eaters who have allergies or simply want to avoid allergens.

Their incredibly diverse line includes allergen-free soft-baked cookies, lentil chips, seed and fruit mixes, snack bars, baking chocolates, chocolate bars, snack chips, cookies, granolas  and cereals.

"As we focus on continuing to drive growth in snacking, the acquisition of Enjoy Life Foods is a great strategic fit for us," said Mark Clouse, Chief Growth Officer at Mondelez International. "The Enjoy Life brand expands our portfolio into faster growing, on-trend, 'better-for-you' areas and provides an excellent platform to make these delicious offerings available to consumers with 'free-from' needs or simply looking for healthy-lifestyle options, both in the United States and beyond." 

7
Hain Celestial Group Acquired Rudi's Organic Bakery

Rudi's Bakery gluten free
The broad line of Rudi's Bakery gluten free and organic baked goods made them a tasty acquisition target. Rudi's Bakery

Hain Celestial Group, Inc. acquired Rudi’s Organic Bakery for $61.3 million in August of 2014 from Charterhouse Equity Partners.

Founded in 1976, Rudi’s Organic Bakery is based in Boulder, Colorado and produces certified organic breads, buns and rolls, tortillas and wraps, bagels and English muffins in both traditional and gluten-free varieties.

Benefits of the Bakery Acquisition

The strategic acquisition of Rudi’s, a leading certified organic bread brand, instantly expanded Hain Celestial's reach into 11 of the top 20 natural categories in the United States — including the dedicated gluten-free aisles.

8
Flower Foods Acquired Dave's Killer Bread

David's Organic Good Seed Bread
Dave's Killer Bread has had some killer growth. Susie Wyshak

Flower Foods acquired Dave’s Killer Bread for $275 million in September 2015.

Founded in 2005, and starting out as a farmers' market vendor with a seriously colorful story, Dave’s Killer Bread is based in Milwaukie, Oregon and produces organic, whole grain bread.

These moves are part of an overall strategy to align the company with shifting consumer preferences toward natural, organic food with fewer ingredients.

Flower Foods then acquired Alpine Valley Bread Company for $120 million in September 2015. 

Founded in 1997, Alpine Valley Bread Company is based in Mesa, Arizona and produces organic bread. 

Benefits of the Bakery Acquisitions

When producing freshly baked foods, locating in diverse geographic areas allows for more local production — a smart move on Flower Foods' part.

“Alpine Valley Bread Company will further strengthen our company,” says Allen Shiver, Flowers’ president, and CEO. “With its extensive portfolio of on-trend organic products, Alpine Valley has a deeply rooted culture of excellence, service, and commitment. We are especially pleased to welcome Alpine’s team members who will bring expertise in the development, production, and delivery of organic bread to Flowers.”

9
Private Label TreeHouse Foods Acquired Flagstone Foods Snack Company

Private label and branded food manufacturer TreeHouse Foods acquired Flagstone Foods — another healthful snack food maker — for $860 million in June of 2014 from Gryphon Investors.

Founded in 2010, Flagstone Foods is based in Saint Paul, Minnesota and produces nuts, trail mix products, dried fruits, snack mixes, wholesome snacks, and snack bars. One of the Flagstone brands, Amport Foods, began as a date importer and has grown to what they say is the "#1 private brand dried fruit supplier in North America."

Benefits of the Acquisition

TreeHouse Foods is quickly acquiring food brands in diverse categories, across the country, to increase their capacity to manufacture private label foods — a key trend in food retailing.

Flagstone Foods brings healthy revenue to TreeHouse Foods, with about 24 percent growth per year.

Given Flagstone's market share in the dried fruit and snacks category, the acquisition helps TreeHouse Foods get a foothold in the produce aisle with healthier snacks, where sales are growing both for brands and for supermarkets. 

As shoppers look for healthy produce options they are more likely to pick up healthful snacks in the produce department as well. 

10
Nature’s Path Foods Acquired Country Choice for Organic Cereal and Granola

Nature's Path acquired the Country Choice Organic brand
Nature's Path is a leader in natural cereal, so it was only natural for them to acquire a similar brand to quickly expand their leadership. Nature's Path

Nature’s Path Foods acquired the Country Choice Organic brand for an undisclosed amount in July 2015 from New Century Holdings, Inc.

Founded in 1995, Country Choice Organic Brand is based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota and produces certified organic cereal, oatmeal, and granola products.

Benefits of the Acquisition

Nature's Path already had a popular and well-respected line of natural cereal, granola, and snack brands.

Given the competition from Big Food companies acquiring natural food brands, a transaction like this gives Nature's Path more strength and visibility in the various organic food categories both with consumers and with the retailers who sometimes need to make hard choices about what goes on supermarket shelves.

11
General Mills Acquired Annie’s, Inc. for $820 million

Annie's Homegrown Bunny Fruit Snacks
Annie's Homegrown makes organic snacking a natural for kids. Susie Wyshak

General Mills acquired Annie’s, Inc. for $820 million in September of 2014. General Mills is the same company that famously acquired LARABAR in 2008, kicking off a frenzy in new snack/energy bar start-ups.

Founded in 1989, Annie’s is based in Berkeley, California and produces natural and organic pasta liked boxed mac and cheese, meals, and snacks — especially known for its fun bunny shapes.

Like LARABAR, Annie's Homegrown acquisition would instantly and greatly expand General Mills' share of the fast-growing organic and natural foods industry market.

Jeff Harmening, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of U.S. Retail at General Mills emphasized Annie's strength in convenient meals and snacks as a real draw, noting that they are two of General Mills’ priority platforms. In recent years, General Mills have scooped up many a natural brand and surely have learned a lot, especially from its experiences with the Kashi cereal line.

Benefits of the Acquisition: a match made in natural foods heaven

Annie’s brought consumer trust and appreciation of their purpose-driven culture and authentic brand to the marriage. An update on Annie's one year after the acquisition by CEO John Foraker only confirms the brand's authentic leadership.

General Mills' brings supply chain, sales, and marketing resources that when combining Annie's with other acquisitions would significantly grow the company's organic and natural foods business.

12
WhiteWave Acquired So Delicious for Non-Dairy Leadership

So Delicious coconut milk bars
The So Delicious non-dairy dessert and beverage lines complements their new owner, WhiteWave. So Delicious

WhiteWave Foods Company acquired So Delicious for $195 million in September of 2014.

Founded in 1987, So Delicious is based in Springfield, Oregon (near Eugene) and produces dairy-free beverages, frozen desserts, creamers and cultured products.

Benefits of the Acquisition

What attracted WhiteWave to So Delicious? The acquisition helped WhiteWave enter into the growing, plant-based, dairy-free frozen dessert category, of which So Delicious is the #1 plant-based frozen dessert brand in the United States. WhiteWave has a nice portfolio of natural foods, including Earthbound Farm which it acquired 

So Delicious not only has a following of gluten-free, dairy-free eaters but they have built an authentically fun and trustworthy brand, which is especially important in the natural foods industry.

13
ConAgra Acquired Blake's All Natural Foods

Blake's All Natural meals
Blake's All Natural frozen meals look and taste good. Blake's All Natural

ConAgra acquired Blake’s All Natural Foods for an undisclosed amount in May of 2015.

Founded in 1929, with a colorful history as a family business, Blake’s All Natural Foods is based in Concord, New Hampshire and produces natural organic frozen meals.

Benefits of the Acquisition

The acquisition of Blake’s would quickly help ConAgra Foods play catch up in the fast-growing trend for consumers seeking foods with natural and organic foods with simple ingredients.  

With their reach, ConAgra Foods would quickly expand distribution of the Blake’s brand nationwide.

14
Hillshire Brands acquired Van’s Natural Foods

Van's Natural Foods products
Van's Natural Foods adds a huge line of snacks and breakfast foods to the Hillshire Farms portfolio. Van's Natural Foods

Hillshire Brands acquired Van’s Natural Foods for $165 million in May of 2014 from Catterton Partners.

Founded in 1988, Van’s Natural Foods is based in Peoria, Illinois and produces gluten-free breakfast foods.

Benefits of the Acquisition

The acquisition gave Hillshire's a significant entry into the natural foods category, adding a diverse line of natural breakfast foods and grain-based snacks to Hillshire's frozen breakfast offerings, which include the Jimmy Dean's brand.

Executives at Hillshire Brands confirmed the acquisition's goal as similar to all of the other recent acquisitions — to diversify through natural food acquisitions in the light of lower consumer spending on conventional foods and preference for "better for you" foods.

15
Post Holdings Acquired Cereal Brands From Hearthside Foods

Peace Cereal website
Peace Cereal is just one of the brands Post bought from Hearthside. Post Foods

Post Holdings acquired the branded and private label cereals and snacks lines from  Hearthside Foods for $158 million in June of 2013 from Wind Point Partners. A few months earlier, Post had also acquired Attune Foods, adding to their share of the natural breakfast food market.

Founded in 2009, Hearthside Foods is based in Downers Grove, Illinois and produces organic and natural cereal, granola, and snacks such as bars and cookies. In fact, they describe themselves as America's largest producer of grain-based bars.

Benefits of the Acquisition

While Hearthside Foods has a huge contract manufacturing business, Post Holdings acquired the branded and private label lines (such as Golden Temple, Peace Cereal, Sweet Home Farm) that Hearthside Foods owned — a strategic move on Hearthside's part so that they can focus on contract manufacturing customers. 

The Hearthside brands that Post acquired are primarily sold through natural and health food retailers, which aligns with distribution of other Post food brands.

16
Hungry to Start Your Own Food Business and Get Acquired?

Invent a new food - fun creative online class on Skillshare
These big acquisitions all started with an idea for one or more foods - is it your turn?. Susie Wyshak

You may have noticed that the companies acquired for big money had been in business for ten or more years.

Growing a natural or organic food business to a point of being an asset to a big food company takes a lot of work to develop a following, production scale — best through a co-packer — and distribution, whether through your own retail locations or through retailers. 

If you're new to the food industry, start here: