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Business briefs – Unilever – Martin Bauer – Waterloo Sparkling Water – Bunge – Land O’Lakes

Business headlines
Who said business is boring? Each week Food & Beverage Insider gives you the 411 on the key industry moves affecting the innovation and product development.

Unilever to acquire Liquid I.V.

Unilever has signed an agreement to acquire Liquid I.V., a U.S-based health-science nutrition and wellness company that manufacturers electrolyte drink mixes that utilize Cellular Transport Technology (CTT) to enhance the rapid absorption of water and other key nutrients into the bloodstream, helping people feel better, faster.

Liquid I.V. provides a 360-degree approach to wellness with a product range that includes Hydration, Energy and Sleep. Liquid I.V. is also non-GMO, vegan, gluten free, soy free and dairy free. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and the acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. Liquid I.V. will continue to be based in El Segundo, California, and led by Brandin Cohen, who will remain as CEO and founder.

Commenting on the deal, Fabian Garcia, president of Unilever North America, said: “Liquid I.V. is an impressive and innovative brand in the fast-growing health, wellness and personal nutrition space. Liquid I.V. shares Unilever’s purpose to improve people’s health and well-being, as well as our ambition to create sustainable products that have a positive social impact. We are delighted to welcome Liquid I.V. to Unilever’s portfolio of purpose-driven brands.”

Martin Bauer acquires Core Botanica

The Martin Bauer Group has acquired Core Botanica, a leading manufacturer of customized mint leaf products in North America. The acquisition expands the Martin Bauer’s portfolio of raw materials and botanical ingredients, servicing the food and dietary supplement industries, along with the tea and beverage markets.

The acquired company will continue to operate as Core Botanica, while benefiting from the support of the Martin Bauer Group’s agricultural team for current and future productions, as well as quality standards.

Merit Functional Foods, Bunge partner on pea, canola protein

Bunge Limited has made a $30 million (CAD) capital investment in Merit Functional Foods, giving the global ingredient supplier a minority interest in the Canadian-based company. The partnership will expedite the construction of Merit’s state-of-the-art plant-based protein production facility in Manitoba, Canada, where it will produce novel pea and canola protein ingredients.

It will be the only commercial-scale facility capable of producing food-grade canola protein in the world. Construction is underway, and the plant is on track to be fully operational by December 2020. Merit’s product portfolio of pea and canola protein ingredients supports the growing need for highly functional and taste-forward plant-based applications. As one of the leading processors of canola in Canada, Bunge has strong origination expertise and will supply Merit with critical inputs.

Waterloo Sparkling Water acquired by equity firm to accelerate growth

Flexis Capital and Eurazeo, through Eurazeo Brands, its investment division focused on differentiated consumer brands, along with Moore Strategic Ventures, have acquired Waterloo Sparkling Water and will support the company in its next phase of growth. The Flexis Capital–led equity consortium also includes JW Levin Management Partners and Waterloo Capital’s investors. Jason Shiver, CEO of Waterloo, who has driven the company’s rapid growth over the last three years, will continue to lead the company alongside COO Jeff Arnold.

Austin-based Waterloo was founded in 2017 and has quickly become one of the fastest-growing and largest independent sparkling water brands in the United States, with distribution in over 13,000 retail doors, including Whole Foods Market, Costco, Target, Kroger, Walmart, Publix, H-E-B/Central Market and others. The investment will provide Waterloo with additional operational resources, brand-building expertise, and capital to grow its business by accelerating its product and marketing innovation.

As part of the transaction, Stephen Sadove will join Waterloo’s board as Non-executive Chairman and Jerry Levin will join as a Director. The two are Founding Partners of JW Levin Management Partners and have decades of operating and board experience in the consumer, beverage and retail industries.

Corteva, Land O’Lakes Venture37 create alliance in Kenya to address dairy shortages

Corteva Agriscience, Land O’Lakes Venture37, Bidco Land O’Lakes, Forage Genetics International (FGI) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have created an alliance that will strengthen dairy production in central Kenya. The project will help advance the sustainable farming practices of more than 5,000 women smallholder dairy farmers and ease the annual 2.2 billion liter shortage of dairy products in the country.

This group of private sector, non-profit, and research organizations will engage in a two-year program designed to increase the supply of nutritional dairy products available to local communities and guide women smallholder farmers in methods that bolster nutrient-rich forages (corn silage and hay) production—providing reliable feed for dairy cattle, improving milk production, and reducing the production cost of those dairy products.

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