Above Food Corp., a Canadian plant-based ingredients business, has snapped up two businesses offering brands – Only Oats and Culcherd.
Founded in 2008 by CEO Mike Marshall in the Canadian city of Saskatoon, Only Oats produces gluten-free whole oats sold into local major grocers Safeway, Loblaws and Metro, along with health-food retailers.
Culcherd, launched in 2015, is a dairy-alternative company manufacturing organic and vegan cheese and butter from its headquarters in North York, Ontario. Its products can be found in retail chain Sobeys and stores such as Voila, Fortinos and Healthy Planet. The business was founded by Tim Donnelly and Elizabeth Gallagher.
Eat Beyond Global Holdings, an equity investor in the plant-based category located in Vancouver, put an undisclosed amount of capital into Above Food earlier this year. At the time, Patrick Morris, the CEO of Eat Beyond, called Regina-based Above Food “an established high-growth, vertically-integrated business that is focused on its proprietary seed-to-fork plant ingredients and plant protein”.
Martin Williams, the co-founder and president of Above Food Brands, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the parent company, said in a statement this week: “Oats are winning the plant-based dairy battle, so having a platform that has custody over the entire supply chain for the finest oats globally, makes tremendous sense for us.”
Above Food Brands was established in 2019 to develop alternatives to meat, dairy, bakery, and baby food, while the parent was set up the following year by Lionel Kambeitz, Donato Sferra, Tyler West and Williams.
“We’ve followed both Only Oats and Culcherd over the last year and have admired how they have both built incredible, differentiated platforms,” said Kambeitz, the chairman and CEO of Above Food. “At the core, both companies pride themselves on supplying quality foods and ingredients that are nutritious, traceable and sustainable.”
Above Food said it sees “significant synergies” for the acquired two companies as Culcherd plans to add oat-based cheese and other dairy products to its portfolio.
Marshall added: “I’m thrilled to continue leading the business for Only Oats as the director of the oats platform for Above Food. This partnership really is a perfect match given Above Food’s scale and vertically integrated strategy, and Only Oats access to, and knowledge of the gluten-free oat space.”
Williams at Above Food Brands told Just Food the parent company now holds 100% of both businesses but declined to provide details on the investment or the anticipated revenues and profits from the combined companies.
However, he did confirm the majority of Culcherd’s revenues come from consumer-facing products, while Only Oats generates its revenues from consumer and oat-based ingredients products.
“We feel oats will win the plant-based dairy war and these acquisitions, alongside our scaled infrastructure and existing partnerships at retail, will enable us to become a formidable force in both the oat-based ingredients and oat-based dairy product spaces,” Williams said.
Culcherd’s Donnelly added. “We look forward to forming the foundation for all plant-based dairy innovations at Above Food moving forward. With Above’s scale advantage, leadership and DNA of innovation, we know we’ll do great things together.”
Above Food plans to launch both brands in the US early next year, and is currently “evaluating several strategic” partnerships with natural retailers, Williams said.
Announcing the investment from Eat Beyond in January, Above Food confirmed it had been supplying ingredients on a business-to-business basis but was seeking to launch consumer-facing products later in the year.
Williams confirmed the plans should materialise later this summer, with 12 SKUs, including plant-based pizza and gluten-free pizza doughs under the brand name Eat Up, which will initially launch on e-commerce. Listings will follow with US and Canadian “national” retailers during the autumn.