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Purple Carrot, the US plant-based meal-kit firm, has been acquired by Japanese online grocer Oisix for an initial US$12.8m.

Terms of the deal include the up-front payment of $12.8m, with “an earn-out potential” of an additional $17.2m, creating a total deal value of up to $30m, a statement announcing the transaction read.

Purple Carrot was founded in Massachusetts in 2014 by chief executive Andy Levitt and distributes its meal kits through centres in Nevada, Ohio and New Jersey.

The Oisix statement said the deal to acquire Three Limes, trading as Purple Carrot, was done on 25 April.

Explaining the rationale for the deal, Oisix said: “Demand for meal kits, which allow people to enjoy handmade meals without having to take time, is growing dramatically. The global meal kit market is expected to reach nearly $9bn by 2025.”

Commenting on its fit with Purple Carrot, which delivers plant-based meal kits every week to 48 US states, Oisix said:  “The two companies’ business philosophy, which provides customers with deliciousness and a healthy eating table through food, and in itself leads to social sustainability, has much in common. 

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“In addition, we concluded that the business models of both companies are very similar and that it is easy to generate synergy, and we acquired the shares of Purple Carrot and decided to expand our business in the United States.”

US fruit giant Fresh Del Monte Produce made an undisclosed investment in Purple Carrot last May. It has not been revealed whether this stake has been bought out as part of the Oisix acquisition.

just-food has asked Purple Carrot for a comment.