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RP’s Pasta, Yumbutter and Ona Merge Under Tribe 9

Meagan McGinnes

One of natural food’s newest parent-brand companies is adding to its tribe. Tribe 9 Foods announced this week that it will now house RP’s Pasta Company, Yumbutter and Ona under its company umbrella. The company raised $2 million in growth capital from Natural Food Partners, LLC in addition to the merger funds.

Tribe 9 CEO Brian Durst told NOSH that he hopes the expansion will give the brand a larger platform for its mission of eating and living well.

“RP’s Pasta, Yumbutter and Ona are each innovators in their own way, creating new natural food offerings to promote a healthy lifestyle for consumers,” he said in an email. “We expect there will be many challenges and learning curves, and we are excited to have the right team to tackle and overcome these challenges while using them as a basis for continued growth. The natural food industry is evolving rapidly, and we think Tribe 9’s platform with a focus on innovation and manufacturing prowess will enable us to further advance our leadership position within the industry.”

The company, which formed in 2016, also announced that Rich Ciurczak, who oversaw RP’s Pasta for the last five years and Yumbutter for the last two, has been appointed as Tribe 9’s President and CFO. All three brands’ leadership teams are substantial owners in the company, though Tribe 9 would not disclose the specific ownership percentages.

“We will continue to create the same high-quality foods our fans have come to value and trust over the years,” Ciurczak told NOSH. “RP’s, Yumbutter, and Ona will each maintain their unique voice, deeply-rooted values and strong growth trajectory under the umbrella of Tribe 9 Foods.”

Currently, Tribe 9’s products can be found in over 6,000 locations, including Whole Foods, Target, Sprout’s, Wegmans, Safeway and Natural Grocers. The merger is expected to not only expand retail lines, but also all three brands’ manufacturing and private label capabilities through Tribe 9’s contract manufacturing label, Real Food Innovations.

“We believe there is an opportunity to provide a much higher service level and strategic partnership to help business owners produce their food products safely and cost-effectively while also building partnerships built on trust and the protection of customers’ interests,” Durst said.

Matt D’Amour, co-Founder of Yumbutter, told NOSH he believes the newly combined resources will give his brand the ability to create a greater impact than he would have been able to accomplish individually. Chris Feuille, Founder of Ona, added that he saw joining Tribe 9 as a “much higher service level opportunity” for the brand’s customers.

“If our customers are thriving, and making more and more food, we both win,” he said. “We aim to use our combined wisdom and experience in the food space to evolve the co-packing model to be more inclusive, trusting, and beneficial for all parties.”

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