PE firm KKR snaps up New Zealand's Natural Pet Food Group - Just Food
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PE firm KKR snaps up New Zealand’s Natural Pet Food Group

11 May 2021

New Zealand-based Natural Pet Food Group has been acquired by US private-equity major KKR.

New York’s KKR said it plans to “support the company’s growth” domestically and overseas. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Christchurch-based Natural Pet Food said the deal will “advance its mission to supply safe, sustainably sourced high-meat pet food from New Zealand to more customers and their pets worldwide”.

Natural Pet Food owns “premium” dog- and cat-food brands K9 Natural, Feline Natural, and Meat Mates. The company says its pet food is produced from “ethically-sourced ingredients”, such as grass-fed and meat and cage-free chicken.

The business was set up in 2006 and, outside New Zealand, sells into markets including, Australia, China, Japan, the US and Canada.

Neil Hinton, the company’s CEO, who joined the business in 2015, said: “My team is excited about the opportunities and connections that KKR can provide. Our business is about providing pet owners with the very best in natural, high-meat nutrition for the four-legged members of their families. KKR has an impeccable pedigree in our sector which will help us grow, develop new products and take our brands to new customers and new markets, all over the world.”

He added: “KKR’s investment marks the next phase of our evolution and their support is a strong endorsement of the outlook for our business.”

Michael Robson, managing director of the private-equity firm’s KKR Capstone unit, will join the pet food company’s board. According to the KKR website, KKR Capstone “is one of the largest and most experienced operations firms within the alternative investment community” and “involved with KKR’s portfolio company investments through the entire life cycle of the asset”.

Robson said: “Natural Pet Food Group is a pioneer in New Zealand’s sustainable pet food industry with a strongly defined mission and set of values. We could not be more excited to work with Neil and his talented team to support the company’s operations by leveraging KKR’s experience, network and expertise to strengthen Natural Pet Food Group’s leadership in key markets and create opportunities in new ones.

“This investment also reflects KKR’s commitment to supporting fast-growing companies in New Zealand that are seeking opportunities to expand into new sectors, verticals, and markets.”

KKR has been involved in two food industry deals in the last month. In April, it invested in China-based D2C dairy firm Adopt A Cow and sold “core” brands of its US-based vitamins and supplements business The Bountiful Company to Nestlé for US$5.75bn.

In Australia, KKR owns The Arnott’s Company, a snacks business built around assets the private-equity firm bought from Campbell Soup Co. in 2019.