The Summer Fancy Food Show had an interesting undercurrent I only caught wind of due to my early career start in Investment Banking with JP Morgan — Mergers & Acquisitions, especially with respect to the natural and organic foods industry. The Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) conglomerates have always been on the prowl for competitors — whether to force out of business or sideline, if possible, or to replicate new product successes, co-opt or takeover. In 2016 the emphasis is on identifying new trends or ones that have been bubbling under the surface for awhile and buy them out. Hormel recent bought both Applegate Farms (a personal favorite) and Justin’s Nut Butters. General Mills started the trend by acquiring Annie’s (the bunny mac & cheese).
As the CEO of one of my favorite brands at the show said to me, after admitting in confidence that they’ve been approached, “If someone wants to give me half a billion dollars for my company tell me where to sign.” I’m all for capitalism but when brands are bought and changed — see Honest Tea (Coca Cola) and The Manischewitz Company (bought by two Moroccan Jews who took the crap out of most of the line and then sold the company where the new owners put the stuff back in) the question is why did they buy them in the first place?
My favorite discoveries are as follows. The great news is some of the brands will even do mail order so you don’t have to hunt down the brand at your favorite grocer and bug them to stock it.
Sweetaly Dolceria Tiramisu
FilFil No. 7 Garlic Hot Sauce
Nohrlund Strawberry Rhubarb Vodka Bottled Cocktails
8 Myles Pineapple Buffalo Sauce
Kate Weiser Chocolates
Cawston Press Sparkling Rhubarb Spring Water
St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail Sauce
David’s Famous Gourmet Frozen Custard Dutch Chocolate
Due Celluci Vodka Sauce
Cows Creamery Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar