- Ingredion agreed to acquire the remaining portion of Verdient Foods from film director James Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis Cameron, according to a release. Financial details were not disclosed, but the transaction is expected to close this month.
- The acquisition will give Ingredion two manufacturing facilities in Canada that produce pulse-based concentrates and flours from peas, lentils and fava beans. In 2018, Ingredion invested $140 million in the manufacturing facilities and formed the joint venture with Verdient Foods and the Camerons.
- Ingredion has been on an acquisition spree in recent years. In 2019, it purchased Western Polymer to expand its reach in potato-based ingredients, entered into an alliance with Matsutani on allulose and made an investment in Clara Foods. This year, Ingredion completed the acquisition of stevia pioneer PureCircle.
Ingredion is bulking up its offerings through M&A to increase its presence in its identified growth areas, one of which is plant-based protein. By the end of 2020, Ingredion expects its total investment in plant-based proteins to increase to more than $200 million from its initially anticipated investment of $185 million. CEO Jim Zallie said in the release its investments over the last two years are intended to help Ingredion "build a leadership position" in the space.
Pulse proteins have been an area of particular interest as Ingredion has expanded its range of plant-based ingredients and the category itself has grown. Ingredient sales in the plant-based sector are expected to reach $9.4 billion by 2024, according to data supplied by Ingredion from Persistence Market Research. In response to this trajectory, Ingredion has invested deeply and launched its own products, like Vitessence Pulse 1803, its first pea protein isolate in its pulse protein line earlier this year.
These earlier investments have proved lucrative for Ingredion as plant-based has grown even more popular during the pandemic. This migration to a more plant-based diet has particularly benefited manufacturers of pea protein. Once an unloved accompaniment on a dinner plate, the market for pea protein is expected to reach $385.7 million by 2027, according to Grand View Research. Not only is the ingredient attractive because of its plant-based profile, but experts have said that pea protein can be more sustainably produced than other ingredients like soy and corn.
This move to fully acquire Verdient Foods was likely in part spurred by Ingredion looking to compete more readily with other pulse protein producers like Puris, Roquette and ADM, which are all working to expand their manufacturing capacities to deliver plant-based ingredients to CPG companies. Earlier this year, Zallie said the need for R&D for new products that tap into consumer trends has created a "genuine urgent need and interdependency that has not existed" between CPGs and ingredient suppliers before.
This mindset has put Ingredion on a path toward acquiring those ingredient companies to capture demand in these growing segments and boost the company’s bottom line. In its most recent earnings report, net sales were down 5% from the same time period in 2019. Operating income in the third quarter also decreased $13 million to $132 million as COVID-19 led to lower volume sales in away-from-home consumption. However, retail has been booming as consumers look to supermarkets to provide trendy products that they can cook at home, and it appears the ingredient company is moving to where the consumers are.
Ingredion doesn't seem to be finished looking toward bolt-on deals to continue to grow across its five target categories of growth: starch-based texturizers, clean and simple ingredients, plant-based proteins, sugar reduction and specialty sweeteners and food systems. In the company’s third-quarter earnings call, Zallie noted that the market for growth is looking "very favorable" and that "investment is perfectly timed with the growth in the marketplace for plant-based proteins right now."