Brynwood Buying Most of Back to Nature from Kraft

Aug. 22, 2012
Investment firm has bought 36 brands; Kraft retains a stake.

Brynwood Partners VI LP on Aug. 22 announced it had signed an agreement to acquire a controlling stake in the Back to Nature brand food business through a joint venture with Kraft Foods. Kraft Foods will continue to hold a substantial minority stake in the business and will have board representation in the joint venture. Terms and conditions of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1960, Back to Nature is one of the original natural food brands in the U.S., the two parties claim. The joint venture initially will offer Back to Nature products in four categories: crackers, cookies, trail mixes & nuts and granola. The Back to Nature macaroni and cheese business will remain with Kraft.

Brynwood VI will appoint Vincent Fantegrossi as pres./CEO of the new company. He previously was pres./CEO of Richelieu Foods, a Brynwood investment that returned over six times total invested capital and generated a gross internal rate of return of over 40 percent for the fund. Under Brynwood V's ownership, Richelieu Foods' sales grew from $100 million to more than $250 million.

In its 28-year history, Brynwood Partners has acquired 36 corporate brands from 14 different sellers. Since January 2011, the firm acquired 20 brands in seven separate transactions. The Back to Nature deal marks Brynwood’s third transaction with Kraft Foods.

Brynwood Partners, Greenwich, Conn., is “an operationally focused private equity fund that makes control investments in lower middle market companies.” Some of its investments include: Turtles chocolate candy and Flipz chocolate covered pretzels (acquired from Nestlé USA); TrueNorth nut-clusters and Kretschmer wheat germ (acquired from PepsiCo); and Balance Bar (acquired from Kraft Foods). Brynwood units holds an investment in DeMet's Candy Co. and own Balance Bar Co., Pearson Candy Co. and Sun Country Foods Inc.

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