NCN News for Aug. 14, 2018
NCN News

AUGUST 14, 2018

Recent transactions

Apeel Sciences closes $70 million to keep produce fresh and reduce waste

Apeel Sciences (Santa Barbara, California) has announced $70 million in new financing led by Viking Global Investors, with Andreessen Horowitz, Upfront Ventures and S2G Ventures participating. Apeel is a family of plant-derived coatings for use by growers, suppliers and retailers to keep produce fresh by slowing the rate of water loss and oxidation. Apeel avocados are now available at major U.S. grocery stores. Since being introduced at Harps Food Stores in May, the retailer has seen a 65 percent increase in margin and a 10 percent lift in sales across the Hass avocado category, the first evidence of food-waste reduction driving margin and profitability for fresh-food suppliers and retailers, Apeel Sciences said. The U.S. retail food sector generates 8 million tons of waste annually or $18 billion a year in lost value, according to research cited by Apeel.

Jamba Juice to become privately held subsidiary of Focus Brands

Focus Brands Inc. has agreed to acquire Jamba Inc. (Frisco, Texas) in a transaction valued at approximately $200 million. Jamba Juice—an early entrant in the made-to-order fruit and vegetable smoothie business—has grown to more than 800 locations worldwide. The company went public in 2006 through a merger and in 2014 began transforming from an operator to a franchisor to reduce its cost structure. In FY2017, which ended Jan. 2, 2018, Jamba Juice reported that total revenue declined $8.7 million to $70.9 million, and net income improved $19.7 million to a loss of $2.7 million. “Despite the anticipated decline in total revenues related to our pivot to an asset-light model, adjusted EBITDA grew by over 33 percent,” said Dave Pace, CEO of Jamba. “Over the last few years, we have worked hard to strengthen our foundation and reposition this iconic brand for the future.”

Bulletproof secures $40 million led by CAVU Venture Partners

Bulletproof 360 Inc. (Seattle, Washington), maker of Bulletproof Coffee and collagen protein products, has completed a Series C funding of more than $40 million in equity and debt financing led by CAVU Venture Partners. Participants included Trinity Ventures, an early Starbucks and Jamba Juice investor, and Silicon Valley Bank. The Series C funding brings total investment to $68 million. New capital will be used to fuel the brand's omni-channel growth plans. Bulletproof buttered RTD and ground coffees contain Brain Octane Oil (caprylic acid from coconut oil), which the company says improves energy and cognitive function.

Plant-based Good Catch secures $8.7 million Series A financing

Good Catch (New York, New York), a maker of plant-based, fish-free seafood, announced the closing of an $8.7 million Series A funding round led by New Crop Capital and a syndicate of investors that included the European food manufacturer PHW Group, Thrive Market and Fresh Direct. The fish substitutes, which include tuna and crab cakes, are made from a six-legume blend with added sea algae oil–rich in DHA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. Good Catch was founded by New Crop Capital and BeyondBrands with a mission to provide a sustainable source of ethical protein as global fisheries face overfishing and as an alternative to farmed fish.

Accelerator adds Just Chill to beverage portfolio

Life On Earth Inc. (New York, New York), an accelerator company for natural, better-for-you snack and beverage brands, has acquired the Chill Group Inc. (Los Angeles, California) and its flagship brand, Just Chill. The Chill Group is a natural and functional beverage company with distribution in major retailers such as Kroger, H-E-B and Whole Foods Market. Just Chill beverages contain Suntheanine (made from the green tea compound l-theanine) to reduce stress and enhance mood without causing drowsiness.

Emblem and GreenSpace develop CBD-infused health and beauty line

Emblem Corp., a licensed producer of medical cannabis, and GreenSpace Brands Inc., both of Toronto, Canada, announced a strategic partnership to develop and commercialize health and beauty products with cannabidiol (CBD), including supplements and beverages, for the adult use market. Expansion into edibles and consumables containing cannabis CBD extracts will move forward when such products are permitted under Canadian regulations, expected in 2019, Emblem and GreenSpace said in a joint news release. Emblem will invest CA$2 million (US$1.53 million on Aug. 1) in GreenSpace and collect royalties on product sales, while GreenSpace will commit to a five-year exclusive CBD-supply agreement with Emblem. GreenSpace has also received a CA$1 million (US$767,320) strategic equity investment from a key supplier. GreenSpace recently acquired Go Veggie, a U.S. plant-based dairy brand.

California Dreamin’ raises $2.3 million to boost production of low-dose cannabis beverages

California Dreamin’ (San Francisco, California), a maker of natural fruit sodas infused with cannabis, announced $2.3 million in funding from Y Combinator, Gmail creator Paul Buchheit and others to fuel production and distribution across California and meet consumer demand. According to the company, consumers feel the results of California Dreamin’ in as little as 20 minutes thanks to a proprietary production process and cannabis tincture. The sodas, which contain 10 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the active ingredient in marijuana), are available online and at dispensaries.

Mars Petcare selects six candidates for accelerator program

Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and R/GA Ventures have picked six companies for the first cohort of Leap Venture Studio, an accelerator program for pet businesses. Participating companies are AnimalBiome, which makes oral supplements from material sourced from healthy cats and dogs; CuidaMiMascota, which connects pet owners with pet sitters in Latin America; Lacuna Diagnostics Inc., a cloud-based platform connecting veterinary hospitals to board-certified clinical pathologists; Mixlab, a veterinary compounding pharmacy; PetPlate, a fresh food subscription service; and Wild Earth, which makes pet food from cultured protein.

Private equity firm acquires gluten-free Brazi Bites

Brazi Bites (Portland, Ore.), a maker of frozen Brazilian-style cheese bread that is naturally gluten free, has been acquired by San Francisco Equity Partners. Brazi Bites was founded in 2010 by a husband-and-wife team based on a traditional family recipe for pão de queijo, a Brazilian roll made with tapioca flour, yucca root and cheeses; it is eaten as a side dish or as a snack. “Brazi Bites is a trendsetting brand at the forefront of the 'freezer revolution,' and their growth within the industry reflects that,” said Scott Potter, managing partner at San Francisco Equity. Brazi Bites is viewed as a potential platform for better-for-you Latin American foods.

Farmstand raises $3 million for healthy food chain in UK

Farmstand (London, United Kingdom), a healthy food chain with more than 20 outlets in London, has raised $3 million in a Series A financing led by Kindred Capital. The company plans to expand its offline and online business model to 100 locations in London over the next four years. Farmstand’s menu is 80 percent vegan, 5 percent sustainable fish and 15 percent ethical meat. Dishes are free from dairy, added sugar and artificial ingredients, and prepared in a central kitchen hub. Farmstand was founded in 2016 by Steven Novick, an e-commerce entrepreneur and cancer survivor, originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Evidation Health announces $30 million in Series C funding

Evidation Health (San Mateo, California), a health and measurement company that helps life sciences and health care companies understand how everyday behaviors and health interact, has raised $30 million in Series C funding. The round was co-led by SV Health Investors, a new investor, and existing investor B Capital Group. By linking real-world data from smartphones and sensors such as wearables and medical devices with traditional medical data, Evidation measures how behaviors outside the doctor's office or hospital relate to health and affect outcomes.

Strand Equity acquires minority stake in Van Leeuwen’s ice cream

Strand Equity is backing Van Leeuwen Ice Cream (Brooklyn, New York), a producer of hand-crafted dairy and vegan ice creams. In addition to its Brooklyn production facility, Van Leeuwen operates 13 scoop shops and six trucks in New York, New York, and Los Angeles, California, and sells at more than 700 retailers nationwide, including Whole Foods Market. Van Leeuwen launched in 2008 when the founders set out to revamp the quintessential American ice cream truck by purveying ice cream made with high quality, natural ingredients.

1908 Brands acquires Bundle Organics prenatal nutrition

1908 Brands has acquired the prenatal nutrition company Bundle Organics (Boulder, Colorado). Launched in 2014, Bundle Organics sells juices and teas online and at more than 2,000 retail locations including Target, buybuy BABY and certain natural channel stores. Bundle Organics’ Chief Brand Director Whitney Eve Port said the company is looking forward to new product launches and a new national retail roll out in late 2018.

Canadian organic poultry producer gets backing

Premium Brands Holdings Corporation (Vancouver, British Columbia), a producer, marketer and distributor of branded specialty-food products, has acquired a 63 percent interest in Yorkshire Valley Farms Ltd. (Peterborough, Ontario), a processor and marketer of organic chicken products. Founded in 2010 by a group of farming families, Yorkshire has annualized sales of approximately CA$65 million (US$49.9 million on Aug. 1) and is one of Canada’s top producers of organic fresh and frozen chicken mostly under the Yorkshire Valley Farms brand.

Albertsons teams with VC to fund innovation in grocery

Albertsons Companies (Boise, Idaho) and venture capital firm Greycroft have created a fund of up to $50 million for emerging companies and technologies in the grocery sector. The partnership will enable companies to tap into Albertsons’ 34 million weekly customers across a range of industries including consumer products, healthcare, wellness, pharmaceuticals and grocery. “As our eCommerce companies scale, they often incorporate a brick-and-mortar strategy to reach the entire U.S. market,” said Ian Sigalow, co-founder and partner of Greycroft. Albertsons’ investment is part of its broader strategy related to new and emerging technologies impacting the grocery sector. In 2017, Albertsons bought the healthy meal kit delivery startup Plated.

Firmenich acquires Campus ingredients

Firmenich (Geneva, Switzerland) has acquired Campus (Parma, Italy), a provider of functional ingredients and raw materials for the food industry with a focus on clean label and vegetarian and vegan solutions. “By combining our capabilities we will accelerate our longstanding goal of offering the most comprehensive range of clean label solutions for protein applications, cutting across animal and plant-based products,” said Federico Fulgoni, CEO of Campus.

Naked 3D Fitness Tracker attracts $14 million in Series A

Naked Labs Inc. (Redwood City, California), which markets a full-length mirror that serves as a 3D-body scanner, has raised $14 million in Series A funding. Founders Fund led the round and was joined by New Enterprise Associates, Lumia Capital, Venture 51 and Seabed VC. The wifi- and Bluetooth-connected smart mirror comes with scales/turntable and a free app to view the image, and track body fat percentage, lean mass, fat mass and weight. Naked Labs also offers personalized coaching and one-on-one coaching. The mirror costs $1,395.

Disclaimer: NCN does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any NCN news item. Before relying on any NCN News item the information should be independently verified.

NCN presenter updates

Shaka Tea selected for Burt's Bees Natural Launchpad

Shaka Tea (Honolulu, Hawaii), a line of Hawaiian iced teas brewed from māmaki, has won a spot in Burt’s Bee’s third Natural Launchpad cohort. Bella Hughes, president and co-founder, will participate in two days of coaching at Burt’s Bees headquarters in Durham, North Carolina, in addition to winning a $10,000 grant. Shaka Tea will also get to use a Burt’s Bees Natural Launchpad Seal in marketing and on packaging. Natural Launchpad is an annual grant program for health and wellness entrepreneurs, with Cohort 3 devoted to female entrepreneurs. Shaka Tea was a presenting company at the NCN Fall 2016 Investor Meeting.

Vitamin Packs relaunches as Persona

Personalized nutrition company Vitamin Packs (Seattle, Washington) has been renamed Persona as part of the brand's re-launch. Persona is a subscription service that offers personalized daily supplement packs and cross-references more than 650 prescription medications, helping customers avoid drug-nutrient interactions. Vitamin Packs was a presenting company at the NCN Fall 2016 Investor Meeting.