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General Mills has snapped up a pet-supplements business, the first acquisition made through the US giant’s new “growth equity fund”.

The Blue Buffalo pet food owner has bought Fera Pets, which develops and sells supplements for dogs and cats.

A General Mills spokesperson said its new fund, launched yesterday (9 November) with news of the Fera Pets deal, is “focused on acquiring, scaling and incubating businesses”.

The fund is one of three units General Mills is using to either invest in up-and-coming businesses or develop its own products. All are housed under a division called Gold Medal Ventures.

Once the company’s innovation unit and then its sole in-house investment vehicle, 301 Inc will remain General Mills’ venture-capital arm and make minority investments “but it will also function to source deals for the new growth equity fund”, the company said.

A spokesperson added: “301 Inc will find passionate and driven founders, in or adjacent to General Mills’ current categories, with proven impact in the market. The growth equity fund is focused on acquiring, scaling and incubating businesses to accelerate their growth, providing them with access to General Mills’ talent and expertise, while remaining founder-led and independently operated.”

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The spokesperson declined to comment on why General Mills felt it needed 301 Inc and the new growth fund.

The spokesperson also refused to be drawn on the investment budgets the units have, or how many staff work within them.

Gold Medal Ventures’ third pillar is G-Works, set up in 2019 and through which the company develops and launches its own products.

Launches to have emerged from G-Works include “blood sugar friendly” snack brand Good Measure and lower net-carb pasta brand Carbe Diem.

Earlier this year, General Mills pulled another of G-Works’ products – the experimental non-cow milk cream-cheese brand – Bold Cultr from the market.

Dr. Michelle Dulake, a veterinarian and co-founder of Fera Pets, said the US-based company was “thrilled to join the General Mills family and embark on a new chapter of growth for our business”.

She added: “Fera Pets was created after recognising a lack of transparency in the pet supplement category and a gap in the market for a holistic approach to our pets’ wellbeing. With the support of General Mills’ scaling capabilities, we are looking forward to furthering our mission to create better lives for pets and their families.”

Fera Pets sells products including probiotic supplements and fish oil. Its products can be bought online, including through pet specialist Chewy, as well as through more mainstream retailers like Target.

Earlier this year, General Mills announced plans to close a pet-food plant in Iowa.

However, in March, the company set out plans to invest in its Blue Buffalo facility in Wayne County, Indiana.

The group’s recent investments in pet food have also included financial backing for US cat-food business Smalls.

In March, the New York-headquartered D2C start-up said it had raised $19m from investors including 301 Inc and the Mars-affiliated Companion Fund.