Big Brands Look to Small in Recent Deals

Carol Ortenberg

Big strategics looked to both invest and acquire in the past two weeks, looking to a fund, a coffee company, and a delivery platform for revenue expansion. Here’s a look at the deals:

AccelFoods Gets Investment from Danone and Others

After closing its fund II at $20 million dollars last year, AccelFoods recently announced an additional $15 million had been added to the fund. Now, Accel has confirmed that Danone Manifesto Ventures was one of several investors taking part in the March raise.

The deal isn’t the first time a large CPG company has contributed to the fund. Acre Venture Partners, a Campbell Soup Company-backed fund, had previously contributed to the initial $20 million dollar raise.

She added that with the recent additions to the fund, there’s potential for AccelFoods’ portfolio companies to later “graduate” to a Danone or Acre Investment as the brand grows in scope and size. Thus far AccelFoods has made 30 different investments. This year Accel also switched from a class based model to a more traditional investment model.

“We are excited to enter into this partnership with AccelFoods, which shares our vision for investing in disruptive early-stage companies and collaborating with them to reach their full potential,” Laurent Marcel, Managing Director for Danone Ventures, wrote in a statement to NOSH. “Overall we believe that creating partnerships with like-minded people like the Accel team, who bring complementary experiences and perspectives, is a great recipe for success.”

Lavazza Gets a Shot From Kicking Horse

Italian coffee producer Lavazza last week announced the purchase of a “significant equity stake” in British Columbia-based Kicking Horse Coffee. The investment, which accounts for of roughly 80 percent of the company, was previously held by Branch Brook Holdings, a joint partnership between Swander Pace Capital, Jefferson Capital Partners and United Natural Foods Inc (UNFI).

Kicking Horse, which was founded in 1996, has just over 100 employees and will continue to operate independently. Following the transaction, Kicking Horse founder Elana Rosenfeld will remain as CEO and will own the remaining 20 percent of the company.

The brand is known for offering organic, fair-trade blends with quirky names such as Smart Ass and Hoodoo Jo.

“This move does not come as a surprise at all,” Matthew Barry, Beverages Analyst at Euromonitor International, said in a statement to NOSH. “Lavazza has been clear that it was in the hunt for further acquisitions and North America has been publically mentioned by company leadership as geography that they were very interested in… Ethically-sourced coffee has [also] been a big focus for [Lavazza] in recent years.”

Campbell’s Gets Fresh With Chef’d

Last week CPG giant Campbell Soup Company announced a $10 million investment in meal kit company Chef’d. The deal was conducted directly through Campbell’s itself rather than its venture arm, Acre. Online grocer FreshDirect also took part in the round.

Campbell’s hopes to develop a deeper relationship with Chef’d; going forward, Chef’d will assist with infrastructure and distribution of meal solutions on the Campbell’s Kitchen website as well as give “insight” into e-commerce business strategies and provide analytics and consumer insights about shoppers. Over the three year agreement, the two brands will test how the two can assist each other with product innovation and fulfillment.

In a statement, Campbell’s noted that between 2016 and 2021 it “projects e-commerce sales of food and beverages to reach $66 billion, a compound annual growth rate of 38 percent.”

“E-commerce will transform the food industry in similar ways to how it transformed entertainment and apparel. It is a game changer for consumers, food makers and retailers alike,” said Denise Morrison, President and Chief Executive Officer at Campbell Soup Company in a press release. “In the future, shopping for and preparing meals will be flexible, fully automated and even anticipatory.”

Chef’d is still seeking investment to raise the balance of its Series B round.

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