Faced with its weakest nine-month sales in many years, Nestle SA has made its biggest investment in health and nutrition since 2006 after making a deal to buy Canadian dietary supplements and vitamin maker Atrium Innovations for $2.3 billion in a bid for growth beyond stagnating mainstream food brands, Bloomberg reported.
The world’s largest packaged food company announced the deal to acquire Westmount, Quebec-based Atrium from an investor group led by Permira Funds on December 5, Nestle said in a statement. The Swiss owner of Nespresso and Lean Cuisine is paying cash for the Garden of Life supplement maker, whose 2017 sales are expected to approach USD700 million.
“Nestlé will provide Atrium with the resources to continue the strong growth of our brands and reach more people globally,” said Peter Luther, president and CEO of Atrium.
“We continue to look for opportunities in things that make sense in very disciplined fashion,” said Greg Behar, CEO of Nestle Health Science, the division that will house Atrium Innovations.
“It’s a good size and digestible,” he said, adding that 80 percent of Atrium’s sales come from the US. Nestle plans to boost distribution in the US and expand Atrium abroad, he added.
Nestle, the maker of Gerber baby food, Purina pet food and Nescafe coffee came under pressure this year to improve returns from activist shareholder Third Point.
The purchase of Atrium will add to earnings immediately, Behar said. The deal reflects comments made earlier this year by Nestle’s new chief executive, Mark Schneider, who identified consumer health as a strategic priority.
Atrium has seven factories in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Argentina. Its biggest brand is Garden of Life supplements.
This is Nestle’s fourth purchase in recent months. It announced deals for vegetarian-burrito maker Sweet Earth and Blue Bottle coffee in September, Chameleon Cold-Brew coffee in November, and made a June investment in meal-delivery startup Freshly.
Atrium, founded in 1999, will add probiotics, plant-based protein nutrition, meal replacements and multivitamins to the Swiss company’s portfolio. The Canadian company, which has 1,400 employees, sells about 80 percent of its supplements in health-food stores in the US, and in other markets.