Nestlé Health Science (NHSc), a global leader in the field of nutritional science, has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Vital Proteins, America’s top-selling collagen brand. This is the first major acquisition of a collagen-based wellness company to date. Vital Proteins was founded in 2013 by Kurt Seidensticker based on the belief that whole-food-based collagen nutrition is fundamental to maintaining overall health and longevity. Since launching, Vital Proteins has become the leading collagen brand in America, growing their annual sales above $100 million within the span of four years. The company’s brand’s portfolio includes over 150 collagen-based supplements, vitamins and food and beverage products.
Vital Proteins will continue to operate as a standalone business, “remaining committed to its founding mission of helping people live healthier lives through high quality, sustainably-sourced collagen nutrition,” according to a company statement. Seidensticker said that becoming a part of the NHSc portfolio will equip Vital Proteins with a variety of resources to scale the company’s reach and innovation. “I spent a lot of time having conversations with people I respected in the CPG space, in addition to leadership from companies that could eventually be a future partner. Through those conversations it became clear that NHSc was really aligned with our brand values, our mission and purpose to empower healthier lives,” he said.
“I’ve always envisioned Nestlé as the ideal partner and have enjoyed getting to know their team, their vision and their values. I also spent time talking to the founders of another like-minded wellness company whom I respect, to see who they thought was a good fit for their organization, and they felt Nestlé was the ideal partner as well. With Nestlé’s support, we will be able to leverage new resources, scale and capabilities, moving towards a future with an expanded global offering of high-quality nutrition products. The possibilities with Nestlé have reignited my imagination of all that Vital can be.”
Vital Proteins complements NHSc’s other vitamin, mineral, supplement and wellness brands, including Atrium Innovations, Garden of Life, Pure Encapsulations and Persona. “This is an exciting opportunity for Nestlé Health Science to enter a growing area of nutrition with a successful brand,” said Greg Behar, CEO of NHSc. “The collagen nutrition market is growing, and Vital Proteins has shown its strength by becoming a full lifestyle brand which will perfectly complement our other vitamin, mineral and supplement brands.”
Board member and investor Brett Thomas, cofounder and managing partner of CAVU Venture Partners, credits much of the company’s success to Seidensticker’s leadership. “Kurt was a visionary founder who set out not only to create a category but to define a lifestyle—and we were believers,” said Thomas. “It was this passion, paired with his exceptional leadership skills and clear ability to execute that ultimately drove the brand’s success.” Seidensticker will remain in his role as Vital Proteins CEO, based out of the company’s headquarters in Chicago, IL.
“It speaks volumes about Vital Proteins as a wellness platform and moreover Kurt as a leader that such a great strategic partnership was formed amidst all the uncertainty in the world,” added Thomas. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Vital Proteins has seen a more than 50% increase in demand for their products. “Consumers are now even more focused on their health and well-being in the midst of this pandemic. The appetite for authentic wellness brands that are rooted in science should remain high, particularly ones which know how to effectively communicate with Millennials and Gen-Z,” explained Romitha Mally, Vice Chairman at UBS who helped orchestrate this deal, as well as Dollar Shave Club and Sundial Brands/SheaMoisture’s sales to Unilever, Bai’s sale to Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and Primal Kitchen’s acquisition by Kraft Heinz.
To support the growth of the business, Nestlé plans to explore geographic and product expansion while maintaining the elements of the Vital Proteins brand that make it popular among consumers. Vital Proteins’ 150 unique products (representing a total of 250 variants of those products) are sold across 35,000 retail doors in North America and Europe, including Whole Foods, Costco, Target, Walgreens and Kroger.
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