Clearlake Capital Group has launched Better for You Holdings, a portfolio company that will invest in food, health and wellness. The PE firm will co-invest on some transactions with food-industry veterans Jason Cohen and Leigh Feuerstein of Halen Brands, a recently formed investment company that focuses on high-growth segments of the food products industry.
Halen’s Cohen has co-created and sold five food brands—Mamma Says Biscotti, Sensible Portions Veggie Straws, Rickland Orchards Greek Yogurt Snacks, Dippin’ Chips and Mrs. Thinster’s Cookie Thins—within the specialty and better-for-you spaces. Both Cohen and Feuerstein served as investors and partners of popcorn manufacturer SkinnyPop, whose parent company Amplify Snack Brands, Inc. (NYSE: BETR) completed an initial public offering in 2015.
“We are excited to announce that Clearlake will be making significant investments alongside Jason and Leigh to sponsor brands positioned for rapid growth,” says José E. Feliciano and Behdad Eghbali, co-founders of Clearlake.
“As founders of food brands ourselves, we were always looking for a fund that was built to marry an entrepreneurial spirit with a patient, collaborative approach and have founded Halen on those principles,” says Cohen and Feuerstein about the partnership with Clearlake.
The new partnership is the most recent pairing for Santa Monica, California-based Clearlake and Halen, headquartered in Fairfield, New Jersey. In 2015, the firms teamed up to acquire Rex’s Outrageous, a producers of chocolate-based gluten-free snacks and also invested in Chef’s Cut, a producer and marketer of gluten-free jerky. Earlier on, Clearlake partnered with Cohen and Feuerstein to invest in Sensible Portion/World Gourmet, which was sold to Hain Celestial in 2010, and to back Dippin’ Chips and Mrs. Thinsters.
The appetite for targets in the food and beverage sector is healthy, says Tyler Swoyer, a deal sourcing manager at Consolidated Investment Group in this video shot at AM&AA’s winter conference in Orlando, Florida. In February, middle-market private equity firm Highlander Partners LP acquired ingredients distributor Fuerst Day Lawson Holdings Ltd. and Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney & Co. Inc., also a private equity firm, purchased natural food provider Panos Brands LLC from High Road Capital Partners.