The original founder of Uncle Matt’s Organic has acquired the juice brand back from Dean Foods following the US dairy firm’s bankruptcy, with plans to expand its distribution and portfolio.
Founder and CEO Matt McLean, who established Uncle Matt’s Organic in 1999, sold the company to Dean Foods in 2017, however remained with the brand to continue running the business.
After Dean Foods filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after struggling with shifting consumer preferences, private label competition and declines in consumer milk consumption, McLean intended to bid for the brand he started.
To enable the completion of the sale, a new parent company named Harmoni was formed as well as a team of investors.
“If you told me three years ago after selling to a publicly-traded, multi-billion-dollar CPG leader that I’d buy Uncle Matt’s Organic back out of bankruptcy, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said McLean.
He added: “When Dean’s financial distress took a saddening and unfortunate turn, it became a rare opportunity for us to purchase Uncle Matt’s to expand distribution, innovate into new categories, and educate consumers on the intrinsic health benefits of buying organic.”
Earlier this year, DFA was named as the winning bidder to acquire a ‘substantial portion’ of Dean Foods, while a selection of companies including Harmoni would acquire the remaining facilities and assets for a total of $7.5 million.
Following the acquisition, the McLean family is now supported by a series of investors including Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield Organic, John Foraker, co-founder and CEO of Once Upon a Farm, and venture capital firm Renewal Funds, which recently invested in plant-based food company Hodo.
“I’ve been a consumer of Uncle Matt’s for years and admire the brand for its authenticity and commitment to organic agriculture and great-tasting and approachable products,” said Foraker.
He added: “It is rare to have the opportunity to invest in and support a “start-up” with so much history and opportunity ahead of it.”
McLean added: “I am humbled to partner with such a high-calibre and experienced team. My wife and I are excited for the opportunities ahead. To be surrounded and supported by colleagues who have had enormous success in the organic industry is an honour and a journey we are looking forward to.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020
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