Internet-based providers of custom and fresh pet food have kibble in the crosshairs. NomNomNow raised $13 million for custom dogfood with participation from Bullish, CircleUp,, Tandem Capital, and Greycroft. Founded in 2015, NomNomNow says it is the only made-to-order fresh pet food company having its own U.S.-based dedicated facility.

PetPlate, a direct-to-consumer subscription service that delivers fresh-cooked pet meals, closed a $4 million seed round led by Dane Creek Capital. Other investors include Amity Supply, SWAT Equity, The Yard Ventures, Castor Ventures, and BrandProject. PetPlate sells human-grade meals for dogs in pre-portioned containers. “Demand for a healthy alternative to kibble will grow exponentially in the next few years,” predicted Mark Warren, chairman & CEO of Dane Creek.

Nestlé Purina PetCare purchased a majority stake in, a direct-to-consumer, customized dog nutrition business, from Draper Esprit. was launched in summer 2014 in the UK and creates custom kibble based on a proprietary algorithm that defines a dog’s nutritional profile. These custom pet food transactions follow premium pet food megadeals earlier in the year (General Mills’ acquisition of Blue Buffalo and J.M. Smucker’s of Ainsworth (Nutrish).





Shortly after acquiring Great Life Pet Food and Wild Calling! Pet Foods, Barkstrong LLC completed the purchase of Pioneer Naturals dog food in June. Pioneer Naturals is a kibble brand that is U.S. sourced and cooked at the lowest possible safe temperature to preserve nutrients, which include probiotics, flax, and fish oils. Great Life products address food allergies, sensitivities, and digestive ailments; and Wild Calling! canned dog and cat food is free-range and grain-free.

Dane Creek Capital Corp. acquired Spring Meadows Natural Pet Food, a manufacturer of frozen raw pet food for dogs and cats, in an all cash transaction. Spring Meadows sells via pet specialty retailers, mainly in western Canada. The purchase, at 0.72 times trailing 12-months revenue, marked Dane Creek’s fourth acquisition of a Canadian raw pet food manufacturer in the last 12 months.

Manna Pro Products LLC, a manufacturer of animal nutrition and care products, purchased Vetscience LLC and its Fruitables brand of premium natural dog treats and supplements. Fruitables grew out of university research into pet obesity using low-calorie pumpkin as a fortified food supplement.

Nulo Pet Food, a premium pet food brand, received a strategic growth investment from Main Post Partners. Nulo’s recipes are high in meat protein, grain-free, have low glycemic carbohydrates, and contain a patented probiotic for immune and digestive health., a network of pet sitters and dog walkers, announced an investment of $125 million led by T. Rowe Price Associates and the closing of a $30 million credit facility with Silicon Valley Bank. Other key investors include Winslow Capital and Cross Creek. The company’s network of sitters and walkers now numbers over 200,000 throughout North America.

Mars launches investment platforms

In March 2018, Mars Petcare unveiled two initiatives: a $100 million Companion venture capital fund in partnership with Digitalis Ventures; and Leap Venture Studio, an accelerator focused on the future of pet care. The new fund will likely encounter no shortage of potential candidates. March saw pet food deals in both products and services, with Nulo Pet Food raising $5.5 million to grow its high protein, grain-free products with patented probiotics to support immune health and nutrient absorption. BrightPet Nutrition Group acquired Phoebe Products LLC, a family-owned manufacturer of baked and freeze-dried pet treats including the SO Bright brand, giving a boost to BrightPet’s healthy pet food portfolio.

Smucker acquires Rachel Ray

Smucker to acquire Rachel Ray dog food maker for $1.9 billion

The J. M. Smucker Company (Orrville, Ohio) is to acquire Ainsworth Pet Nutrition LLC (Meadville, Pa.) from L Catterton and the Lang family in a cash transaction valued at approximately $1.9 billion, offset by a $200 million tax benefit. Approximately two-thirds of Ainsworth’s sales are generated by its Rachael Ray Nutrish brand, strengthening Smucker’s portfolio in the fast-growing premium pet food category. The purchase price represents a multiple of approximately 12 times EBITDA; Smucker expects a contribution to net sales of approximately $800 million in the first full year after closing. Several of Smucker’s existing pet brands were acquired in 2015 from Big Heart Pet Brands, formerly the pet food division of Del Monte Foods, in a $6 billion transaction. These brands are mostly conventional but also include the premium Nature’s Recipe and Natural Balance brands. According to a new pet market report by Packaged Facts, the growing popularity of super-premium and natural pet foods has caused a shift in the market whereby mass channels appear poised to surpass pet specialty in pet food sales growth, a phenomenon it attributes directly to “mass premiumization.” L Catterton invested in Ainsworth in 2014.

• JustFoodForDogs, a retailer of small batch, home-cooked pet food, received a significant growth investment from NCN Cornerstone Investor L Catterton.
• The Farmer’s Dog, a direct-to-consumer fresh petfood company, closed an $8.1 million Series A financing led by Shasta Ventures.
• Spectrum Brands Holdings acquired PetMatrix, a manufacturer and marketer of rawhide-free dog chews.
• PetLife Pharmaceuticals acquired Healthy Life Pets (Dr. Geoff’s).
• Whitebridge Pet Brands acquired Arthur Dogswell.
• The Riverside Company sold pet toy company Outward Hound to J.W. Childs
• Petsmart acquired for $3+ billion.
• Rover and DogVacay merged to consolidate the pet sitting business.
• Mars acquired VCA, a chain of 800 animal hospitals and 60 diagnostic laboratories in a deal valued at $9.1 billion.
• Destination Pet a provider of pet care services including boarding, grooming, and vet care raised $30 million in debt and equity from McLarty and Opus.
• Subscription dog food delivery service Ollie Pets raised a $12.6 million led by Canaan Partners.
• Fuzzy Pet Health closed a $4.5 million seed round.

The 1st Animal Supplement and Pet Wellness Investor Forum

The National Animal Supplement Council and Pet Wellness Partners announce the 1st Animal Supplement and Pet Wellness Investor Forum to be held May 1st at the 2018 NASC Annual Conference in Arizona.

Six to eight innovators in pet nutrition, animal supplements, or natural or cutting edge pet foods or pet products will be selected by an independent committee to present in person to a panel of judges on May 1st. Attendance at the Animal Supplement and Pet Wellness Investor Forum will be open to NASC’s Preferred Supplier network, Nutrition Capital Network members and by special invitation. Companies in pet wellness and animal supplements space looking to raise growth capital or identify strategic partners are encouraged to apply to present their business in front of this select audience. There is no charge to apply, to present or to attend this meeting.

All companies submitting applications will be considered for investment by Pet Wellness Partners and those selected to present at the meeting will compete for a list of prizes including Branding and packaging consulting from XXX legal and regulatory label advice from NASC. A presentation slot at the next Nutrition Capital Network national investor meeting that includes capital raising and business plan mentoring from industry professionals.

National Animal Supplement Council is inviting volunteers to participate on the judging panel to provide feedback, help determine prize winners and decide who will be presented to the general audience on May 2nd at the 2018 NASC Annual Conference as the Pet Wellness and Animal Supplement Innovator of the Year.

Pet Wellness Partners is an independent investment fund focused on early stage pet nutrition, pet wellness and animal supplement markets. Investments start in the low six figures to support innovation and advanced proof of concept, but larger investments to scale growing companies will also be considered.

National Animal Supplement Council is the leading industry trade association in North America representing companies from Raw Material Suppliers, Contract Manufacturers, Analytical Laboratories, Service Providers and leading supplement brands.

The National Animal Supplement Council represents approximately 90% of the industry by sales in the US and is a nonprofit industry group dedicated to protecting and enhancing the health of companion animals and horses throughout the U.S. and global marketplace. The 2018 NASC Annual Conference is an executive business forum which will bring together industry leaders, product innovators along with major down stream business partners and is a must attend event for animal supplement companies.

Applications to be considered by the review committee to be a presenter at the May 1st meeting are available by following the link below.