Granarolo acquires majority stake in wellness start-up White & Seeds

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Stake in nutrition-focused start-up acquired by Italian dairy producer / Pic: White & Seeds
Stake in nutrition-focused start-up acquired by Italian dairy producer / Pic: White & Seeds

Related tags Granarolo S.p.A. acquisition M&A Dairy

Italian dairy group Granarolo has acquired a 51% stake in protein start-up White & Seeds, with the option to take full control of the business ‘in the next few years’.

The start-up was founded by Alessandro Ghizzardi and Federica Zanaglio in 2019. It focuses on supplying protein products ‘for athletes’ to the Italian market and its range includes dairy products like yoghurt as well as breakfast items and snacks such as muesli, snack bars, porridge, spreads. Granarolo said this portfolio is ‘complementary to the dairy market’.

A focus on wellness, taste and sustainability

Commenting on why the dairy group was attracted to White & Seeds, Granarolo explained that the brand offers healthy foods to an "extended" sports target market. Its products focus on ingredient quality and ‘careful research’ that delivers on taste and nutritional value in ready-to-eat formats.

White & Seeds has already secured distribution with various retailers, including Cortilia, Eataly, Fresco Frigo, Erbert, Conad, Gruppo San, Donato and Sigma. It has a turnover of over €100,000. Further financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

"The strength of the offer by this young start-up lies in the competency and passion of its two young founders. They are both sports lovers, one who is passionate about the market and the other is an expert nutritionist. They have researched products intended for a generation of people who are attentive to wellness but with little time and who are looking for genuine ingredients and flavours,”​ explained Filippo Marchi, General Manager of Granarolo.

Marchi said the deal should be considered within the context of Granarolo’s own drive into the wellness space. “Granarolo has been focusing its attention on the same target for quite some time and over the last few years has placed products on the market that are inspired by well-being combined with taste and sustainability.”

The Italian dairy group revealed that today 25% of Granarolo’s turnover comes from innovation. “We are convinced that this will be more and more the case. Attention is no longer paid only to the product in terms of its ingredients, like in the past, but with specific attention to factors such as age, eating habits, country, packaging and food trends,”​ Marchi believes.

“In terms of innovation, we are working on two important fronts: internally to be able to predict trends before others (proof of this for example, is the great success of products such as the Unconventional Burger) and externally, with innovation generated through strong synergies such as the one with White & Seeds and through Agrofood Bic, the multi-company accelerator we founded.”

Accelerating innovation at White & Seeds

Following the deal, Marchi said he expects White & Seeds will step up its growth trajectory, supported by the larger dairy company’s resources. The start-up's founders, Ghizzardi and Zanaglio, will continue to work on the brand’s development.

“We will make our Research and Development department, factories and our commercial and logistics network available to Federica and Alessandro, in the belief that we will know how to grow together,”​ Marchi revealed.

The start-up’s founders were equally bullish about what the tie-up could mean for the brand’s future growth.

“White & Seeds is proud to become part of the Granarolo Group, which demonstrated immediately that it was in line with our philosophy, both in terms of the great ability and the desire to innovate and for the cooperation between the various teams,”​ Ghizzardi and Zanaglio said in a statement.

“We will dedicate our commitment and skills to creating a point of reference for the healthy and functional sector, while remaining faithful to the values on which we founded our company. We are ready to begin this new chapter with great enthusiasm.”

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