Above Foods acquires Atlantic Natural Foods to expand seafood analog offerings
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada-based Above Food Corp. has acquired Atlantic Natural Foods, with the goal of expanding both companies’ plant-based seafood analog footprint.
Nashville, North Carolina, U.S.A.-based ANF, which makes plant-based seafood alternatives, plant-based meals, and plant-based egg replacements was acquired for more than USD 30 million (EUR 26 million), Above President and Chief Innovation Officer Martin Williams told SeafoodSource. The agreement, already approved by the boards of directors of both companies, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022.
The ANF acquisition expands Above’s consumer products portfolio, which includes more than 100 products across plant-based meat, seafood, cheese, and egg analogs.
ANF has four brands – including TUNO and Loma Linda plant-based meals –distributed in 22,000 retail locations across 28 countries.
“We believe TUNO’s heritage, leadership, and innovation in alternative seafood is an excellent springboard for us to launch a deeper range of products that satisfy consumers’ and retailers’ growing interest in the category,” Williams said.
To that end, Above will launch a new brand, New Ocean, in early 2022 to include TUNO as a sub-brand, and will add alternative seafood appetizers and entrees in both shelf-stable and frozen varieties, Williams said.
“If we think about what alt-seafood is doing, it is indeed creating a new ocean, to give our existing oceans the much-needed rest they deserve,” Williams said. “This new ocean is the wide expanse of the northern plains of the U.S.A. and the southern prairies of Canada. The new fishing fleets are farmers harvesting plant-based seafood in the form of lentils, chickpeas, peas, and fava beans, which are indeed the new ‘catch.’”
The partnership is designed to address the most-critical issues in the plant-based market – including increased demand for agricultural ingredients – by using Above’s seed-to-fork platform to "sustainably produce affordable, densely nutritious foods that taste good utilizing Atlantic’s sophisticated, scaled global production facilities in North Carolina, USA, and Thailand,” Above said in a press release.
“Above Food’s seed-to-fork approach in plant-based foods is something we were independently building towards, as we believe owning the entire value chain is the only way to drive the scale of change necessary in the food system and create a true long-term business model,” ANF Chairman J. Douglas Hines said. “Feeding the global population sustainably with high quality, nutritious, plant-based foods is how we will drive true change to address healthier foods with a healthy planet.”
Hines, formerly the chief operating officer of Bumble Bee, acquired ANF in 2010 and built the business through a focus on shelf-stable seafood alternatives. He will remain on as ANF chairman and “will continue with his outspoken thought-leadership, and strategic leadership given his experience, knowledge, and passion to help do good in the food-production ecosystem,” Williams said.
Above Foods plans to retain all of ANF’s employees and intend to hire “in all areas, in all geographies, including in the U.S.A. and Canada,” Williams said.
“Atlantic’s commitment to sustainability, nutrition, accessibility, and social responsibility are all values that deeply resonate with our team,” Williams said. “With five generations of agriculture experience at the helm of Above Food, we have a seed-to-fork mentality that shapes every product and partnership. We identified significant synergies between our two companies, and the decision to join forces was an easy one.”
Above has been on a buying streak in 2021, with acquisitions of six businesses in the organic and natural foods categories. The purchaes were partially funded through a venture capital fundraising round that garnered more than USD 40 million (EUR 34 million) in January 2021. Its business-to-business brands distributed in Canada and the USA include Farmer Direct Organic, Only Oats, Culcherd, and Eat Up!
“With the addition of ANF’s brands, we will have a scaled global distribution footprint of more than 28,000 outlets and 80-plus innovative products – products that address consumers' desires for more sustainable, more traceable, more nutritious, and more affordable plant-based products,” Williams said.
But Above is “just getting started,” Williams said.
“We have bold ambitions and a growth strategy that leverages our scaled advantage and custody at the farm gate of the best plant proteins from the best places in the world to grow them: the northern plains of the U.S.A. and the southern prairies of Canada. This will allow us to be amongst the global leaders in the plant-based sector, as we control our entire value chain from seed-to-fork,” Williams said.
Above’s business-to-consumer plans “includes expanding our significant retail distribution through branded and private label offerings, as well as growing into foodservice, which we are seeing turn back on at scale in a peri/post-COVID-19 environment,” Williams said.
Above is launching a new round of pre-public funding in November through which it hopes to raise between USD 125 million and USD 200 million (EUR 108 million and EUR 172 million).
Photo courtesy of Above Foods