Following this week's announcement that Sovos Brands is merging with Noosa Yoghurt, Sovos has signaled plans to expand the Noosa brand into new categories, according to Food Navigator. While no specific information was available about what those categories might be, Food Navigator said Sovos intends to build on the success and brand equity Noosa has already achieved since its founding in Colorado in 2009.
Food Navigator reported Noosa has more than tripled its sales in the past four years — hitting $100 million in 2015 — as well as tripled its market share and expanded production capacity, thanks to a $60 million investment from Advent International. Advent, a New York-based global equity firm which formed Sovos Brands last year, bought a majority stake in Noosa in 2014.
"Noosa shares our unwavering commitment to authentic, delicious-tasting products using only the highest quality ingredients," Todd Lachman, president and chief executive officer of Sovos Brands, said in a release. "Our team brings significant experience across food and beverage categories, and we see a number of attractive opportunities to grow the noosa brand as we expand Sovos Brands into the yoghurt category."
It's not clear yet what areas Noosa may expand into after its merger with Sovos, but officials with the yogurt company told Food Navigator that it will maintain the same brand identity and types of full-fat, super-premium products with which consumers are familiar. It wouldn't be surprising if that means new lines within, or potentially outside, the dairy category, such as drinkable yogurt, frozen yogurt, plant-based yogurt — or even squeezable Greek yogurt like Chobani's Savor condiment line introduced this summer.
Sovos, although formed just last year, already has Michael Angelo’s Gourmet Foods and Rao’s Specialty Foods within its portfolio. Michael Angelo's makes frozen Italian entrées, and Rao's produces Rao's Homemade premium pasta sauce, dry pasta, dressings, marinades, olive oils, vinegars, tomatoes and fire-roasted red peppers, Food Business News noted.
Perhaps more significant for Noosa's future is the fact that Sovos' leadership brings a lot of food industry expertise to the table. The company's officials have extensive experience at major CPG firms such as Mars, Heinz, Del Monte and Procter & Gamble. On the Sovos website, they call themselves "a different flavor of brand builders."
"Sovos' approach to is to work directly with the local brand teams and team them with their highly capable management team and expansive distribution platform to identify continued and accelerated growth opportunities for the noosa brand, including the extension of its products into new categories outside of spoonable yoghurt," the company told Food Navigator.
With that background and expertise on board, it seems less risky than it might otherwise for Sovos to be planning to expand the Noosa brand so quickly after the merger. However, it's also possible there could be a bit of a learning curve for Sovos as it becomes more familiar with the yogurt sector, which presents different challenges and opportunities than the Italian food companies the firm has been investing in to date.
Still, if the focus remains on the premium, one-of-a-kind brand as Noosa grows, the merger could result in even higher sales numbers than Noosa has seen in recent years. According to Packaged Facts, retail dollars sales in the U.S. yogurt market were worth nearly $9 billion last year, with sales projected to increase at a steady rate through 2022.