Canadian plant-based food company Daiya has been acquired by Japanese pharmaceutical company Otsuka for CA$405 million ($325.97 million), according to a company release.
Daiya, which makes a range of dairy-, gluten- and soy-free dairy alternatives, said the deal would help increase its presence throughout North America and worldwide. For Otsuka, the acquisition will extend its portfolio into foods as a pillar of its nutraceutical business.
Otsuka operates globally, and offers the Nature Made brand of vitamins in the U.S. and Canada.
Pharma companies increasingly are looking to the nutrition sector for investment opportunities — and vice versa — but a healthcare company investing in foods is less common. Nestlé Health Sciences has invested in Accera, the U.S.-based firm behind Alzheimer's treating medical food Axona. Nestle has also invested in Pamlab, a Louisiana-based company that makes vitamin supplements targeted at people with depression.
Otsuka’s interest in Daiya speaks to the rise of a more holistic, preventive approach to health, which many consumers associate with good nutrition, and plant-based nutrition in particular.
More consumers than ever are turning their backs on dairy, and dairy alternatives are Daiya’s main area of expertise. While the category started as a way to cater to those with food allergies, it has taken off in recent years as a healthier choice for all consumers, not just those with lactose intolerance.
Apart from increased global reach, the deal is likely to give Daiya access to Otsuka’s expertise and more advanced pharmaceutical-grade equipment, which is becoming more common in the plant-based food industry. Plant-based condiments and sweets company Hampton Creek has told Food Dive uses pharma-grade equipment to improve the structure and nutrition of its products.
In a YouTube video, Daiya’s founders said they saw Otsuka as a company that shares its values and the goal of improving people’s health. Daiya will remain an independent subsidiary of Otsuka after the acquisition.