Publicly traded conglomerates are gobbling up the natural food industry in response to the growing demand for whole foods. And the latest acquisition is a testament to just how big the dairy-free industry is becoming. WhiteWave Foods, a leading food and beverage company in North America and Europe, has agreed to purchase So Delicious Dairy Free for approximately $195 million in cash.
WhiteWave Foods, a division of the dairy corporation Dean Foods, produces Horizon Organic Milk, Land O Lakes Butter, and International Delight Creamers. But they hedged their slowing dairy investments by acquiring two dairy-free milk alternative companies in recent years, Silk in the United States and Alpro in Europe.
WhiteWave Foods recognizes “plant-based” foods as a dynamic food category and they are determined to be a leader in the dairy-free sector. “The acquisition of So Delicious represents a great addition to the WhiteWave portfolio and fits squarely within our strategy of driving growth in our core businesses,” said Gregg Engles, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of WhiteWave.
The takeover of So Delicious Dairy Free will add a more expansive product line of popular dairy-free products to the WhiteWave Foods profile, including their biggest stronghold, dairy-free ice cream. Engles continues, “So Delicious is also recognized as the #1 plant-based frozen dessert brand in the United States, and it will provide WhiteWave entry into the growing, plant-based frozen dessert category.”
So Delicious Dairy Free was founded in 1987 by Mark Brawerman, who was CEO until 2013. Brawerman led the progressive company through numerous successful product launches, rigorous allergen-safe programs, and full non-GMO verification, which has resulted in net sales of $115 million for the twelve months ending June 30, 2014. Strong growth is expected to continue as the consumer demand for dairy-free products appears insatiable.
Since inception, So Delicious Dairy Free has been committed to nutritious products, addressing the dietary needs of consumers, environmental stewardship and sustainable agricultural practices. As consumers we hope that the transition to WhiteWave Foods will increase distribution without compromising any of these standards, particularly allergen safety. The deal is expected to close in the next few months.