True invests in Soulfresh
True, a European vertically integrated retail and consumer innovation and investment firm, has invested GBP26 million in Soulfresh, the international better-for-you food and beverage company that develops and distributes owned health and wellness focused, food and drink brands.
Soulfresh is disrupting the largest food and beverage categories with healthier alternative products that reflect the wishes of today’s consumers, particularly those focused on a lifestyle of health and sustainability. Soulfresh operates across three core categories, delivering 11 own-brands across fermented (living) beverages, plant-based foods and drinks. Brands within its portfolio include Lo Bros (kombucha range of drinks), Nutty Bruce (plant-based milk alternatives), Pico (organic vegan chocolate) and Eaty (plant-powered “meat”).
Soulfresh’s core markets are growing fast with living beverages delivering compound annual growth of nearly 30 per cent set within a stagnating global soft drinks category worth a significant GBP278 billion. Plant-based food, at GBP2.4 billion of global sales, continues to deliver growth rates 8x that of the global meat category, a market worth GBP171 billion.
Soulfresh’s owned brand portfolio together grew more than 100% year-on-year as the structural shift in mainstream consumer behaviour towards low sugar, natural, plant-based and sustainable products continues at pace. Working across predominantly grocery and health channels, Soulfresh has market leading distribution across six countries including the UK (Sainsbury, Ocado, Amazon), France and Spain (Mercadona, Dia), a leading presence in Australia (Coles, Woolworths) and New Zealand (Countdown, Pak N Save) and a growing presence in South Africa.
As part of its investment, True will also manage a new commitment from Soros Capital Management, Robert Soros’ Family Office, leveraging Soros’ unique network and asset base to help Soulfresh accelerate its ambitions.
True will work with founder Didi Lo and Soulfresh’s management team to support the brands in achieving continued scalable growth and international expansion. True’s unique business model includes an innovation hub that engages the most dynamic founders in the sector and a Partnership programme that includes grocery giants such as Waitrose, M&S and Morrisons in the UK, and 7-Eleven, TJX and Shell retail worldwide to help further accelerate distribution. Alongside this global grocery network, True’s Live Network will also be utilised to help identify next-generation marketing solutions, products and emerging technologies to help grow the presence of the brand, both domestically and internationally.
Ben Clarke will join the board as the independent Chairman of the company. Clarke brings substantial global experience in growing food brands from more than 25 years’ working in the industry. Clarke was most recently Chairman of the highly successful protein brand Grenade. From 2009–2016, he led Burton’s Biscuit Company as CEO under private equity ownership, during which time he oversaw the transformation of the business and its subsequent sale to a Canadian pension fund, as well as the successful sale of the Cadbury business to Mondelez International. Before that, Clarke spent 15 years working for Kraft Foods in various senior management roles, including area director for Australia/New Zealand and Area Director for UK/Ireland. Clarke also works with one of the UK’s most innovative platforms, “Young Foodies” advising disruptive young food and drink brands, as well as a senior industry advisor at Bain Capital.
Matt Truman, Co-Founder and CEO, True, says: “At True we invest in business models that are at the forefront of consumer behavioural shift. Soulfresh is at the epicentre of the global health, wellness and sustainability mega-trends with a focus on R&D and innovation that is market-leading. Our unique business model will allow us to genuinely add value for Didi and his team who have built a fantastic platform of brands with potential for rapid growth. We are delighted to welcome Soros as an investor, and to have also secured Ben Clarke as Chairman and together are excited to be partnering with the Soulfresh team for the next phase of growth.”
Didi Lo, CEO and Founder, Soulfresh, says: “In the past 15 years Soulfresh has experienced a great deal of growth off the back of disrupting mainstream categories like juices, soft drinks and dairy milk. We have been looking for the right partner to take our fast growing, innovative global business to the next level and have found that in True. Matt and his team are genuine entrepreneurs and not only have the retail and consumer expertise but are a great cultural fit for Soulfresh. At Soulfresh, we are passionate about innovation, growth and championing healthy food and drinks for the mainstream, and in True we have found a partner who believes in the scale of the opportunity these market shifts provide. We are delighted to be working with them for the next phase of our journey.”