- Above Food has entered into a binding agreement to purchase plant-based pioneer Atlantic Natural Foods. The transaction, which is valued at more than $30 million, will bring the company known for its shelf-stable plant-based alternatives under the umbrella of the Canada-based vertically integrated plant-based food and ingredient company.
- The transaction, scheduled to close in the first quarter of 2022, will combine Above Food's seed-to-fork platform with Atlantic Natural Foods' wide distribution — at 25,000 retail locations in 30 countries — and manufacturing facilities in North Carolina and Thailand.
- This is the latest acquisition for Above Food, which bought three other brands this year: regenerative organic legume and specialty grains brand Farmer Direct Organic Foods in May and oat-based food makers Only Oats and Culcherd in July.
In 2021, Above Food's acquisition strategy has helped it go from a relatively unknown Canadian company to a major player in plant-based food, from both the ingredients and CPG product sides of the business. Buying Atlantic Natural Foods moves the company farther forward in the United States than any of its previous business moves.
Founded in 2008, Atlantic Natural Foods is a small but well-known player in plant-based space. The maker of tuna replacement Tuno, plant proteins under the Loma Linda brand, egg and meat replacers Neat and caffeine-free coffee substitute Kaffree Roma first made its name in the U.S. market. The company has seen rapid growth since 2018, when it first launched Tuno and reenergized the more-than-100-year-old Loma Linda brand with ready-to-eat plant-based meals.
In 2019, Atlantic hired a financial firm to scout out potential investment partners. According to a May 2019 story in the Vegconomist, the company was trending toward $50 million in revenue within two years. Because Atlantic is a private company, its sales have not been publicly disclosed — though sales in the plant-based CPG sector during the last two years have grown at a steeper rate than had been projected because of the pandemic. Atlantic has worked to improve its offerings and products, debuting a reformulated Tuno product at Natural Products Expo East last month.
That desired investment partner was realized in Above Food, founded in 2019 with the goal of developing and distributing plant alternatives to animal-based food through a transparent supply chain. After emerging from stealth, Above Food acquired and developed partnerships with key suppliers and ingredient companies in Canada. It made Canopy Growth founder Bruce Linton the chairperson of its Above Innovation Advisory Council. In addition to its brand acquisitions, the company bought an advanced ingredient processing terminal in the province of Saskatchewan, where many plant-based proteins are grown. And it launched an e-commerce platform that featured its newly acquired brands, as well as its own Eat Up line.
Atlantic Natural Foods Chairman J. Douglas Hines said in a written statement his company was working to build many of the sourcing and traceability measures Above Food has as its backbone. The acquisition gives Atlantic more control over its ingredient supply.
The acquisition also gives Above Food more ways to connect with existing plant-based consumers. Atlantic has its core consumers. SPINS data cited by Food Navigator indicate that six in 10 of the top shelf-stable plant-based SKUs in natural food stores in the year ending June 13 were Atlantic products.