- Soylent Nutrition, the popular protein beverage and snack brand, was purchased by Starco Brands. The purchase price was undisclosed by either company or in regulatory filings available on Wednesday.
- Under the terms of the transaction, Soylent will operate as a separate business unit under Starco Brands, which owns a diverse array of food and personal care brands, including Cardi B’s alcoholic whipped cream Whipshots. Soylent CEO Demir Vangelov will continue to lead the brand.
- Rumors began swirling last year that Soylent was exploring strategic options, including a potential sale. A Bloomberg report last May said the company could fetch $225 million or more.
Soylent Nutrition essentially invented the plant-based meal-replacement beverage space when the company started in 2013.
While Soylent has toned down its rhetoric in the last decade — founder Rob Rhinehart, who left the company in 2017, started out by positioning the brand as a product that could replace regular food — it’s also remade itself as a plant-based nutritional beverage line that can help different types of consumers. Soylent’s meal replacement beverages are still available, but the company also has an array of snack and beverage options with different caloric levels and different nutrients to increase protein intake and energy.
Last year, Soylent estimated $100 million in sales. Its products are in about 30,000 U.S. retail stores, as well as available direct-to-consumer.
Starco Brands is not as well known in the food business, even though its parent company has been around more than 25 years. Its founder and CEO Ross Sklar came from the industrial coatings business and started Starco as a vehicle to bring new technology and ideas to consumers through inventions, partnerships and acquisitions. Starco is publicly traded.
Soylent is the most recent acquisition for Starco, which has been adding to its portfolio in the last six months. In September, Starco bought The AOS Group, maker of the Art of Sport body and skincare line, which was co-founded by Kobe Bryant. Last month, Starco acquired Skylar, a hypoallergenic fragrance brand targeted at consumers with sensitive skin.
While there may have been much wider interest in Soylent as an acquisition target, in an interview with AgFunder News, Vangelov said the company was interested in Starco’s ability to innovate quickly, as well as its large portfolio of products. Starco has done well with marketing and celebrity partnerships, which Vangelov told AgFunder is apparent through the success of Whipshots.
In a release announcing the acquisition, Vangelov added that Soylent also is interested in Starco’s strong supply chain to accelerate its global scale up.
This acquisition not only joins Soylent with a strong company focused on category disruption, but it also could bolster Starco’s reputation as a company in the food and beverage space. Soylent has shown it has staying power on the market without the kind of disruptive marketing or celebrity attention Starco could bring to it. Any future success with Soylent could be laying the groundwork for more Starco acquisitions in the food and beverage space.