Nestlé USA is diversifying its portfolio with the purchase of Sweet Earth, a plant-based food manufacturer. The deal comes as U.S. consumers seek healthier food options, and comes on the heels of Nestlé’s June investment in online meal provider Freshly. Financial terms of the Sweet Earth transaction was not disclosed.

Launched in 2011, Sweet Earth produces a variety of frozen meals including burritos, breakfast sandwiches, and plant-based burgers and proteins. The Moss Landing, California-based target manufactures approximately 48 food items than are sold in more than 10,000 grocery stores. Sweet Earth is also sold in Whole Foods Market Inc. (Nasdaq: WFM), Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT), Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT). The target also produces ethnic-geared foods such as General Tso Tofu and the Curry Tiger Burrito.

"In the United States, we're experiencing a consumer shift toward plant-based proteins,” states Nestlé USA CEO Paul Grimwood. “In fact, as many as 50 percent of consumers now are seeking more plant-based foods in their diet and 40 percent are open to reducing their traditional meat consumption. One of Nestlé's strategic priorities is to build out our portfolio of vegetarian and flexitarian choices in line with modern health trends.”

Nestlé USA is a subsidiary of the Swiss consumer products giant Nestle S.A. In February, Nestlé USA decided to relocate its headquarters to Rosalyn, Virginia from Glendale, California. As part of the transaction, Sweet Earth will continue to operate as an independent business with the support of Nestlé USA.

Dealmakers have a healthy appetite for better-for-you food and beverage companies. Related deals include: B&G Foods Inc.’s (NYSE: BGS) buying of Back to Nature Foods Co. LLC; Fresh&co’s acquiring a 35-acre farm to focus on local ingredients; Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.’s purchasing of antioxidant drink company Bai Brands LLC; and General Atlantic’s minority investment in Joe & the Juice, a chain of urban juice and coffee bars.

Sweet Earth

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Kamaron Leach

Kamaron Leach

Kamaron Leach joined SourceMedia in 2016, serving as Reporter of Mergers & Acquisitions. Kamaron writes the Finance Finesse column about investment banking and lending, and also covers the media and entertainment sector.