Category: Uncategorized

Originally published on NACS

Nestlé USA continues to diversify its coffee portfolio with the acquisition of Chameleon Cold-Brew, a provider of premium crafted coffee sourced consciously and grown sustainably.

Founded in 2010, Austin, Texas-based Chameleon has become the No. 1 organic cold brew brand in the United States, notes Nestle in a press release, and one of the top three refrigerated cold brew brands in the country. Its current portfolio consists of multi-serve concentrates and single-serve, ready-to-drink products, two segments that account for 18% of the $2.5 billion in-home coffee category.

“Chameleon has been extremely fortunate to grow from our hometown base of cold-brew lovers in Austin to a national brand in just a few short years,” said Chris Campbell, co-founder and CEO. “Partnering with a world-class company like Nestlé will give us the opportunity to do so on a bigger platform. Our shared values around product integrity and commitment to sustainability made Nestlé the best choice to enable Chameleon Cold-Brew to accomplish our goals for the future.”

Chameleon’s products are available in a variety of formats: ready-to-drink cold-brew, cold-brew concentrate, kegs, cold brew kits and whole bean coffee. Retailers carrying these products include Whole Foods, Target, Safeway, Albertson’s, and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

“We believe the Chameleon brand is perfectly positioned to support Nestlé’s strategy for coffee, which is to have a variety of offerings in terms of format, taste and price points,” said Paul Grimwood, chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA. “We believe this relationship will benefit both of us as we expand our access to the emerging cold brew category while helping Chameleon grow so that more people can enjoy its delicious, premium crafted coffee.”

As the world’s largest coffee producer, Nestlé champions responsible coffee sourcing around the world. Through the Nescafé Plan and the Farmer Connect program, the company has made a commitment to help secure the future of coffee. Nestlé is working directly with farmers to ensure they are growing viable, healthy crops, and that coffee farming remains sustainable.

The Giannuzzi Group acted as legal counsel to Chameleon.


Originally published on PR Newswire

Vital Proteins, a wellness innovator of collagen-boosting nutrition, announced today that it has received a $19 million investment from CAVU Venture Partners, a VC and growth equity firm started by consumer products veterans known for backing and building iconic consumer brands. The investment further underscores Vital Proteins’ mission to push ingestible collagen into the mainstream and bring clean-label, whole food-based nutrition into the hands and homes of consumers nationwide.

“As a brand, we value authenticity in every element of our business — including our partnerships.  I was impressed by the genuine entrepreneurial drive of CAVU’s partners. They possess the deep strategic, operational, and brand-building expertise that will help us further accelerate Vital Proteins’ growth,” explained Kurt Seidensticker, CEO and founder of Vital Proteins. He continued, “I knew upon meeting them that they would be great partners in helping us further expand and accelerate our brand.”

Brett Thomas, CAVU’s co-founder and managing partner, commented, “In an extraordinarily short amount of time, Vital Proteins has become the leading lifestyle brand in the collagen nutrition space. Kurt has built one of the strongest organizations and cultures we have seen in the consumer products world, and we are excited to partner with him and his team in this next phase of growth.”

Bader Alam, Senior Vice President at CAVU, added, “Vital Proteins’ financial success and popularity is underpinned by products possessing a clean ingredient label, as well as their expertise in digital marketing. The collagen nutrition space has a lot of room for growth. Vital Proteins is well-positioned to capitalize on that opportunity, given their strong innovation pipeline and differentiated branding.”

CAVU representatives Brett Thomas and Bader Alam will join the company’s board of directors.  Vital Proteins will use the investment to accelerate growth, to educate consumers on the benefits of collagen nutrition and to create and bring to market additional healthy lifestyle products that people love.

Collagen, a natural protein found in the body, is an essential nutrient to the overall health and support of skin, hair, nails, bones and joints. The importance of collagen-boosting nutrition has emerged in recent years, proving itself to be a sustainable trend, with Vital Proteins leading the way. The brand’s collection of powder blends, bone broths, elixirs, and capsules is thoughtfully created with high-quality, all-natural ingredients that contain key proteins and nutrients needed to help you look and feel your best.

The four-year-old brand has achieved 240%+ consecutive year-over-year-growth for the past three years and has grown its retail presence into over 8,000 retail stores, further establishing the company as a leading lifestyle brand for collagen nutrition. Key retail partners include Whole Foods, Sprouts, Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market, Erehwon, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Free People, and Neiman Marcus. Consumers can expect to see Vital Proteins’ presence grow both on and offline and to expand to additional national retailers in the coming year.

The Giannuzzi Group acted as legal counsel to Vital Proteins.

Originally published on Market Watch – Written by Annie Gasparro

Kellogg Co. plans to buy niche protein-bar company RXBAR for $600 million, joining other big food makers in tapping new brands to make up for falling sales of sugary, processed products.

Kellogg mainstays like Frosted Flakes and Pop-Tarts have faced declining sales in recent years. Chief Executive Steven Cahillane, who took over this week from John Bryant, is tasked with bringing the company more in line with the turn many consumers are making toward more natural, fresh foods.

Many of Kellogg’s competitors are also buying newer brands to adapt. Conagra Brands Inc. earlier this year bought Duke’s meat snacks and recently said it would buy Angie’s Boomchickapop popcorn. Campbell Soup Co. in July said it was acquiring Pacific Foods, an organic soup maker, for $700 million. And last year, General Mills Inc. bought EPIC Provisions meat snacks.

But in buying buzzy smaller brands, these giants risk depriving these startups of the identity that made them attractive to consumers. Kellogg acquired Kashi in 2000 and made big changes to the cereal maker’s marketing and innovation strategy, only to see it lose ground to newer all-natural brands.

The 25 largest food and beverage companies have lost billions of dollars in market share in recent years, consultancy A.T. Kearney said. Those companies averaged 2% annual sales growth from 2012 through 2016, compared with 6% growth for their smaller rivals, the company said.

After moving Kashi’s operations from Southern California to Kellogg’s headquarters in Battle Creek, Mich., executives realized they were hurting Kashi’s brand identity and move it back to the West Coast.

“Kellogg learned some lessons with Kashi. We won’t compromise our values, ” RXBAR co-Founder and Chief Executive Peter Rahal said.

Mr. Rahal said his company will continue running its business as a separate unit out of Chicago, but will benefit from Kellogg’s distribution, research and development capabilities. Mr. Rahal said he wants Kellogg to help his brand grow beyond protein bars and sell his products in more schools, hospitals and hotels.

The Giannuzzi Group acted as legal counsel to Rxbar.

Originally published on New Hope

Seven Sundays, the fastest-growing brand of muesli in the U.S., received a growth capital investment from Katjesgreenfood (part of Katjes Group), based in Berlin, Germany. The investment will be used to expand distribution of the brand, which is currently sold in approximately 4,000 stores including Target, Costco, Safeway, Whole Foods, Stop & Shop and Sprouts.

Seven Sundays, founded in 2011 by Hannah Barnstable, has quickly become one of the fastest-growing natural cereal brands in the U.S. Offering sustainably sourced, non-GMO and gluten-free muesli cereals in a variety of flavors, Seven Sundays packs in the twice the protein with half the sugar as a typical granola.

The company has doubled sales each year since Barnstable first received capital from friends and family in 2014 after picking up distribution in Target stores across the country. She sees this latest round of capital and the partnership with Katjesgreenfood as a major milestone.

“We are extremely excited about our partnership with Katjesgreenfood. We knew after our first meeting that they were a completely unique investor, whose commitment to providing healthy food options and sustainability matches ours. Katjes is mission-driven, progressive in their thinking from brand to product innovation, and have a strong interest in the current food revolution. Together we plan to transform the U.S. breakfast market,” explained Barnstable.

“We are delighted that muesli, the most popular breakfast category in Europe, is growing double digits in the American market. Seven Sundays is the clear leader, and we believe that its strong brand, exceptional products and focus on threading sustainability into the business will lead to long term success,” added Dr. Manon Littek, CEO of Katjesgreenfood.

After falling in love with muesli on her honeymoon in New Zealand, founder, Hannah Barnstable, started making and selling her own unique batches from her kitchen. Using real, high quality ingredients like small, regenerative whole grains, nuts, seeds, real fruits and organic wildflower honey, Seven Sundays muesli tastes just as great as it makes you feel. All Seven Sundays’ products are naturally gluten free and contain no refined sugars or GMOs and are available at grocery stores nationwide as well as online.

Seven Sundays is the first and only U.S. company to receive an investment from Katjesgreenfood, a division of the Katjes Group.

The Giannuzzi Group acted as legal counsel to Seven Sundays.

Source: Seven Sundays

Originally published on UFC

UFC®, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, today announced a multi-year partnership with BODYARMOR® Sports Drink, establishing the isotonic brand as the first-ever “Official Sports Drink” of UFC.

As part of this ground-breaking collaboration, which covers the United States and begins in 2018, BODYARMOR will supply its line of high-end sports hydration products: BODYARMOR sports drink and BODYARMOR LYTE, to the UFC Performance Institute’s two “BODYARMOR Hydration Stations”.

“BODYARMOR is an industry leader in sports hydration and they are a perfect fit to partner with UFC,” UFC President Dana White said. “Providing UFC athletes with safe, nutritional products while training at the UFC Performance Institute is an important part of helping them maximize their overall performance and BODYARMOR will help us do that.”

“With the explosive growth that BODYARMOR has seen in recent years – it’s an exciting time for the brand to team up with UFC,” said Mike Repole, co-founder and chairman, BODYARMOR. “A partnership between the fastest-growing sports drink and the fastest-growing sports organization creates a tremendous opportunity for BODYARMOR to play an important role in the hydration needs of some of the best athletes in the world.”

In addition to product placement at the UFC Performance Institute, BODYARMOR will also serve as the presenting sponsor of select UFC weigh-in events, along with providing corner branding of stools, towels and buckets inside UFC’s world-famous Octagon® during all U.S.-based events. BODYARMOR will also have a presence on and live-event programming, as well as being integrated across multiple UFC-based social and digital platforms.

BODYARMOR is the fastest growing sports drink in its category, having seen a 110% increase in sales from last year. The consumer demand for a better-for-you sports drink has made BODYARMOR the #3 sports drink in the U.S. Kobe Bryant is the number three shareholder in BODYARMOR.

“BODYARMOR offers a better-for-you hydration option at a time when athletes in every sport are paying more attention to what they put into their bodies,” said Bryant. “UFC athletes demand the best in hydration and nutrition, and we’re excited to be partnering with the UFC on such a large scale.”

BODYARMOR has amassed a superstar roster of professional athletes who are also investors in the company, including James Harden, Mike Trout, Andrew Luck and Dustin Johnson, among others.

The Giannuzzi Group acted as legal counsel to BODYARMOR.

Originally published on PR Newswire

Mars Food has signed a definitive agreement today to acquire Preferred Brands International, a Stamford, Connecticut-based, fully integrated manufacturer and marketer of all-natural, ready-to-heat Indian and Asian food products sold primarily under the Tasty Bite® brand.

Tasty Bite’s® portfolio includes a wide range of vegetarian offerings, including Indian/Asian entrees, spice and simmer meal kits, and organic rice and lentils. While the majority of sales are generated in North America, Preferred Brands International also manufactures products that are sold through retailers in the UK and Australia and through foodservice in India.

Today’s agreement brings together two strong food businesses focused on delivering healthy, tasty, and convenient foods that bring inspiration and enjoyment to the world’s dinner table. Mars Food, a segment of Mars, Incorporated, has a broad portfolio of brands loved by consumers around the world, including ready-to-eat and dry rices and grains, sauces, meal kits, meal helpers, and spices under the brands UNCLE BEN’S®, MASTERFOODS®, DOLMIO®, SEEDS OF CHANGE®, and others.

Tasty Bite® manufactures products out of its Pune, India manufacturing facility and exports the majority of its products to the US. Preferred Brands International also enjoys a significant foodservice business under which it supplies food products to other leading food manufacturers and quick service restaurants in India.

Tasty Bite® has a subsidiary which is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange of India. This subsidiary will continue to be listed after the acquisition.

“Tasty Bite’s® broad range of dinner time products, focused on Indian and Asian cuisines, makes it a natural complement to our existing portfolio,” said Mars Food Global President Fiona Dawson. “Tasty Bite® is a fast growing Indian/Asian dinner time brand. Upon closing of the acquisition of Tasty Bite®, Mars Food will expand our all-natural vegetarian offerings in the US, and leverage Tasty Bite’s® strong product development pipeline, flavor expertise, and strategic sourcing of quality ingredients throughout our portfolio.”

“We’re thrilled to be joining the Mars Food family,” said Tasty Bite CEO Ashok Vasudevan. “The nearly quarter century of uninterrupted growth of Tasty Bite since its inception was powered by our deep commitment to sustainable practices and to the pursuit of consumer delight.

“Mars is one of the largest food companies in the world and a recognized leader and role model for corporate sustainability. Mars Foods’ strong brand portfolio, global infrastructure, and shared values makes it well-positioned to take Tasty Bite to the next level.”

The acquisition of Preferred Brands International is subject to applicable regulatory approvals and is expected to close by Q4 2017. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC served as financial advisor to Mars Food. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP served as legal advisor to Mars Food, and AZB & Partners served as India legal advisor. Tasty Bite® was represented by Goldman Sachs, The Giannuzzi Group, and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas.



Originally published on BevNET

Written by   Jul. 17, 2017

Plant-based protein smoothie brand Koia announced today the closing of a $7.5 million seed series fundraising round led by KarpReilly and AccelFoods.

“We are incredibly excited to partner with Chris and the rest of the Koia team,” said Allan Karp, co- founder of KarpReilly, in a press release. “We rarely encounter a business that so early on has so clearly resonated with both retailers and consumers alike. Combined with an experienced and talented group of management, advisors, and co-investors we are confident that Koia is well positioned to become a category leader.”

Food and beverage venture capital fund AccelFoods, which first invested in Koia in March, also participated in this round. In a press release, co-founder and managing partner Jordan Gaspar said, “We are thrilled to further invest in Koia and the company’s vision of a plant-based future. Chris Hunter is a proven leader capable of building a world-class management team to grow this innovative next-generation brand.”

The news marks another step in the continued growth of Koia, which was launched in 2013 on the strength of a successful crowdfunding campaign. The smoothie is made with an almond milk base and a proprietary blend of brown rice, hemp and pea protein. Each of the three SKUs — cacao bean, vanilla bean and coconut almond — contain 16-19 grams of protein in each 12 oz. bottle and have a suggested retail price of $5.99.

As part of the round, Bill Moses, co-founder of probiotic beverage brand KeVita and an investor in Koia, will join the company’s board of directors. The brand also counts Bill Weiland, president and CEO of independent natural food broker Presence Marketing, as an investor and advisor and experienced beverage consultant Jim Tonkin as an investor.

“We are fortunate to have a robust investor and advisor group in my opinion,” said Hunter. “Bill in particular is very familiar and successful in the cold-chain beverage space. So leveraging some of his experience and knowledge in that at a high-growth company, handling that will be invaluable for us.”

Hunter said that the funds would be used to expand company staff. “We are in the process of hiring a director of marketing, and we are looking to some other sales roles,” he said. “We are really trying to fill out the leadership for each different division and then trying to set goals underneath that.”

In terms of distribution, Hunter said the brand, available nationally at Whole Foods, continues to build in the natural channel with an eye to eventual penetration into conventional retailers such as Wegmans, in which it recently launched.

“We are obviously a ready-to-drink plant-based protein product, and there are other RTD options out there, a majority of which are shelf-stable,” said Hunter. “I think that’s a different proposition compared to a fresh product like ours. I think what has really set us apart has been our nutritional panel in terms of this amazing efficient delivery of high protein and incredibly low sugar that seems to surprise people, not only when they read the label but also when they taste the product.”

The Giannuzzi Group acted as legal counsel to GEM&BOLT.


Originally posted on BevNET

Owl’s Brew, makers of tea-based cocktail mixers and a tea-and-beer Radler line, announced Thursday it has closed a $4 million series A funding round. The round included large investments from investment firm Cambridge Companies SPG and Anheuser-Busch InBev’s “disruptive growth organization,” ZX Ventures.

Speaking to BevNET, Owl’s Brew co-founder and CEO Jennie Ripps said the capital infusion would go toward funding the expansion of the brand’s Radler line. The products — which are made with premium light beer, fresh-brewed organic tea and infused with real fruits and botanicals — launched in October but began a stronger East Coast rollout in Q1.

The funding will enable Owl’s Brew to support its wholesalers and distributors as the brand moves into new markets, Ripps added. As part of ZX’s investment, a representative of the group will join Owl’s Brew’s board of directors.

The Radler is currently available in 14 East Coast states and sold in roughly 1,500 stores, including Whole Foods, Wegman’s, Shaw’s, Shop-Rite, and Total Wine. The Radlers will expand into PriceChopper in June.

“We’re pleased to be part of such an innovative organization,” Filipp Chebotarev, COO and Partner at Cambridge Companies SPG, said in a press release. “Jennie Ripps and [president] Maria Littlefield are incredible founders with a proven ability to bring ideas to mass market. Cambridge Companies SPG is proud to be part of this fast growing brand which has established impressive category velocity, widespread distribution and strategic partnerships across North America.”

Owl’s Brew also landed an on-premise arrangement with concert and events giant Live Nation to sell the Radler line at 21 of its amphitheatre venues in the markets where the brand has distribution, including the Xfinity Centers in Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Ford Amphitheater in New York, and the Verizon Amphitheater in Georgia. Live Nation venues nationwide attract more than 30 million people annually, Ripps said, and the new funding will also be used to help promote the Live Nation partnership.

According to Ripps, Owl’s Brew met with Live Nation executives during the 2016 National Restaurant Association show and the companies have been working closely together since to prepare the launch.

“I think it’s probably the most exciting, largest, on-premise opportunity that I can imagine to coincide with the launch of our brand for the summer,” Ripps said. “In terms of building brand awareness we feel extraordinarily lucky they want to be our partners and sell our product.”

Owl’s Brew launched in 2013 as a tea-based cocktail mixer line. While the brand has now embraced beer, Ripps said the company’s main focus still lies in creating “clean” tea and botanical ingredient-based products. However, since launching, sales of the Radler products have quadrupled and Ripps expects the line to be the largest driver of company growth in the near future. While the company’s flagship cocktail mixers are performing well, Ripps admitted that uses for those offerings are more niche and limited than the ready-to-drink Radler.

“You can drink it at a concert, you can drink it at the beach, you can crack one open much more readily so there’s no barrier for entry,” she said.

The Giannuzzi Group acted as legal counsel to Owl’s Brew.


Originally posted on

Campbell’s has invested $10 million in US meal kit upstart Chef’d, less than two weeks after Unilever led investment in a similar kind of business.

The soup company will become Chef’d’s largest strategic investor and receive a seat on the company’s board of directors. The deal will help grow Campbell’s e-commerce capabilities, with Chef’d offering an online platform through which consumers can order meal kits from various different brands.

Unlike other meal kit delivery companies, which focus on a singular product line, Chef’d brings together various different offerings from the likes of Atkins and Weightwatchers.

Chef’d has also developed its own range of meal kits covering different meal times and cuisines.

Campbell Soup president and chief executive officer Denise Morrison said: “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. The movement is irrevocable and irreversible. In the future, shopping for and preparing meals will be flexible, fully automated and even anticipatory. Chef’d will help Campbell connect with our consumers where they are today and, more importantly, where they’re headed.”

Campbell’s expects e-commerce food and drink sales to reach $66 billion by 2021, and its latest investment will be a vote of confidence in the overall meal kit concept.

Chef’d CEO Kyle Ransford added: “We are actively looking to add strategic partners and Campbell’s outlook on the future of food and e-commerce aligns perfectly with the Chef’d vision of the future of online grocery. Both Campbell and Chef’d believe in continuing to drive innovation in the new food economy, particularly around consumer customisation and e-commerce solutions.”

Campbell’s is joined in investing in Chef’d by Fresh Direct, which is making a follow-on investment to their Series A investment.

It comes less than two weeks after Unilever led investment in Sun Basket, the US organic meal delivery service, as part of a $9.2 million funding round.

The company offers consumers meal kits delivered to their door weekly, consisting of organic and non-GMO ingredients alongside an easy-to-prepare recipe.

Sun Basket grew sales by 1,300% in 2016 and has added $124 million in new annual revenue run rate since last September alone, underscoring the potential in this nascent market.

The meal box format has experienced strong growth in recent years, inspired by Scandinavian retail and buoyed by the addition of many new companies in markets around the world.

As the sector evolves, many find themselves offering a specific point of difference – like ethical or organic ingredients – or, as Chef’d has done, bringing a large number of services together in one place.

The Giannuzzi Group acted as legal counsel to Chef’d.


Originally posted on First Beverage Group

Los Angeles, CA – May 24, 2017 – First Beverage Ventures, the private equity arm of First Beverage Group, is pleased to announce its investment in GEM&BOLT as the lead investor in an equity raise completed by the company.

Distilled in Oaxaca, GEM&BOLT is an artisanal mezcal made with 100% espadin and the Mexican herb damiana, known for its mythological healing properties.

Mezcal is one of the fastest growing spirit categories, tapping into consumer interest in agave-based spirits as well as craft spirits that incorporate local ingredients and production methods. GEM&BOLT’s founders developed their unique brand with a local artisanal mezcal-producing family in Oaxaca and created a product that is both smooth enough to drink on its own and well balanced to mix perfectly in a fresh cocktail.

The company will use the proceeds from this raise to increase retail availability by expanding its sales and marketing efforts with key distributor partners in the United States.

“GEM&BOLT is a truly unique and standout brand in a high-growth category,” said Bill Anderson, founder and CEO of First Beverage. “But most importantly it’s a brand led by four women who bring a rare combination of vision, purpose, style and execution. We couldn’t be more grateful to have the opportunity to join them in their journey.”

“There’s a great deal of market interest today in mezcal as a result of the category’s significant growth,” noted Kristen Bareuther, a managing director at First Beverage. “GEM&BOLT’s highly differentiated product – in taste profile, positioning and packaging – coupled with its core consumer following and dedicated, deeply experienced founder team make it an exciting proposition for First Beverage.”

Created by artist-alchemist duo AdrinAdrina and Elliott Coon, GEM&BOLT is the culmination of a journey which started with a shared bohemian childhood and an interest in apothecary and the homeopathic benefits of herbs and led to a love of mezcal and its role in Mexican culture. “We are on the front end of defining what this category can become with a brand that was born out of a love and respect for art and nature,” said AdrinAdrina. “The sense of place that comes from what we are doing here in Oaxaca is so powerful,” added Elliott Coon. “There is a natural harmony between the agave and damiana that each thrive here, and we have taken our time to craft a mezcal spirit that is truly experiential and celebrates a bond between art + plants.”

AdrinAdrina and Elliott Coon partnered with seasoned beverage veterans, Jody Levy, co-founder and creative director at WTRMLN WTR, Lisa Derman, former COO of Stoli Group USA, and Vicente Reyes, an agave beverage expert based in Oaxaca, Mexico who is actively involved in the cultivation and preservation of agave, and correspondingly, mezcal, to create an artisanal product that brings together art + plants in a manner that honors its cultural traditions.

“We love the work we are doing and the culture that grounds us and guides us at GEM&BOLT,” said Lisa Derman. “There is a satisfaction to making something that is pure and authentic, paying homage to great traditions and bottling an experience that can be shared in new circles and in new ways. Our partnership with First Beverage is the next step in our journey, and one that we are very excited for.”

The Giannuzzi Group acted as legal counsel to GEM&BOLT.