M&A and equity investments related to ESG accelerated in the first half of the year, compared to the closing six months of 2020, according to GlobalData analysis of deal-making in the packaged-food industry.

Deals linked to ESG made up 5% of all transactions announced in the food manufacturing sector in the first six months of 2021, the research organisation claims.

This represents an increase from the figure of 1.8% in the last six months of 2020. In the first six months of 2020, GlobalData says 5.9% of deals were related to ESG.

During 2020 as a whole, 4.1% of all deals in the sector were linked to ESG, the figures show.

GlobalData’s deals database looks at M&A, plus venture-capital and private-equity investments taking place daily across industries, including packaged food.

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By GlobalData

Examples of transactions during the first half of 2021 that GlobalData classify as being linked to ESG include the move by Canada-based dairy giant Saputo to buy Bute Island Foods, a UK producer of plant-based cheese alternatives. Bute Island Foods, which makes the Sheese brand, sells its plant-based cheese alternatives in blocks, slices and creamy and grated variants online, through independent retailers and via major supermarket groups including Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.

Saputo attained a small presence in dairy alternatives when it acquired UK dairy group Dairy Crest in 2019. Dairy Crest’s product range included dairy-free brand Vitalite.

GlobalData’s analysis also flagged up the funding BlueNalu, a US firm developing cell-based seafood, announced it had received in January.

Thai Union Group, the owner of brands including Chicken of the Sea and John West, was among a number of investors to have taken part in a round of debt financing worth US$60m at BlueNalu, the fledgling California-based firm. Privately-owned US food giant Rich Products Corp., which invested in BlueNalu last year, also took part.

BlueNalu’s previous funding rounds have also included Japan-based Sumitomo, the owner of global fresh-produce supplier Fyffes, the South Korean tofu maker Pulmuone Co., US ingredients major Griffith Foods and Netherlands-based animal nutrition business Nutreco.

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