USA – Above Food Corp., is eyeing a greater share of the plant-based food market in North America with the acquisition of US-based alternative protein manufacturer Atlantic Natural Foods.
The transaction made for an undisclosed amount is expected to close during the first quarter of 2022, according to a report by Food Business News.
Atlantic Natural Food manufactures plant-based seafood alternatives, prepared foods, and egg replacements.
The company’s products which include Loma Linda, Tuno, and Neat are available in more than 22,000 retail locations in 28 countries, according to Above Food Corp.
“Atlantic Natural Foods brings to our team a real established branded consumer products company. Each of these brands is already operating at scale,” said Martin Williams, president and chief innovation officer of Above Food Corp.
“They have owned manufacturing and they’ve solved the issue of unit economics for a center store brand. Their simple meals, for example, are already cost competitive with animal-based counterparts.”
Above Food Corp., bets on plant-based sea food
Mr. Williams and Lionel Kambeitz, executive chairman and chief executive officer, see significant opportunities in growing the company’s presence in plant-based seafood.
“No one has taken the crown in (plant-based) seafood,” Mr. Kambeitz said. “We have the whole supply chain — the chickpeas and fava beans — to make seafood analogs.”
He further notes that plant-based seafood has a competitive advantage cost-wise and environment-wise when compared to sea food.
“The cost of catching fish, growing fish domestically, is such that the unit economics on all plant-based seafood will be better,” Mr. Kambeitz said
“The second thing is there is a lot of focus on how our oceans are being depleted; how coral reefs are dying and there is too much plastic waste in the ocean. There is a lot of talk about environmental damage to the ocean. That helps the case for plant-based seafood.”
The company plans to capitalize on the current scale of Atlantic Natural’s Tuno brand, which includes varieties of plant-based tuna and use it to introduce a new brand called New Oceans in early 2022.
“New Oceans will allow us to be more expansive on use occasions,” Mr. Williams said. “We’ll be bringing both fresh and frozen center plate products to market through New Oceans and Tuno will become a sub-brand.”
Above foods has acquired company several businesses since, including Farmer Direct Organic Foods, a producer of legume proteins and grains that are certified organic; Only Oats, a producer of oats and a manufacturer of consumer products: and Culcherd, a manufacturer of plant-based dairy alternatives.
The company is still on an aggressive expansion drive and is in the process of raising between $125 million and $200 million through private equity.
Mr. Kambeitz said that funding will be a precursor to an initial public offering or reverse special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in the next 12 to 18 months.
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