Americans believe increasingly in a connection between the food we eat and our overall health, and that's good news for many a dealmaker, as reporter Allison Collins demonstrates in this issue's cover story. The purchase in July of VMG Partners-backed Robert's American Gourmet Food LLC, which makes Pirate's Booty, by strategic buyer B&G Foods Inc. (NYSE: BGS) is one of dozens of recent deals in the better-for-you food sector. Not only are private equity firms and corporations drawn to the space, but so are investors in the public markets. Two of the most successful initial public offerings in recent years have come out of the "natural" food world, with the 2012 debut of organic macaroni-and-cheese maker Annie's Inc. (NYSE: BNNY), backed by Solera Capital LLC, and more recently with the August IPO of grocery-store chain Sprouts Farmers Market (Nasdaq:SFM), backed by Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO) and Silver Canyon Group. Revamped eating habits, such as consuming smaller, more frequent meals, are driving all kinds of deals. "Whether in the snack bar space, the yogurt space - even the candy space - we're seeing people look for healthier options," says Michael Mauzé of VMG Partners.
Also in this issue, read our roundtable on today's challenging lending environment, moderated by contributing editor Danielle Fugazy and sponsored by Boston-based commercial finance firm NewStar Financial. While the number of lenders has dwindled since the economic downturn, remaining lenders are taking on larger pieces of debt and financing more deals, easing the burden on private equity firms trying to put together a syndicate. Collateralized loan obligations are in full force, with CLOs providing the lowest borrowing costs since the financial crisis.