Five CPG giants entering or expanding in the dietary supplements space

By Adi Menayang contact

- Last updated on GMT

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Related tags: Johnson & Johnson, Procter & gamble, Clorox, Kirin, Investment, General mills

From Clorox to Kirin to Johnson & Johnson, this year we’ve seen several consumer packaged goods (CPG) giants enter the dietary supplement space, either through acquisitions or major investments.

Procter & Gamble buys Merck Consumer Health Unit

In April, Procter & Gamble announced that it will buy Merck KGaA’s consumer health unit for €3.4 billion, an acquisition that will add vitamin brands like Seven Seas, Femibion and Neurobion to P&G’s portfolio.

P&G owns several supplement subsidiaries and brands, such as New Chapter (which it acquired in 2012) and Metamucil (acquired in 1985). But its existing consumer health business mainly consisted over-the-counter drugs like Vicks, Prilosec, and Pepto-Bismol.

Merck sold its consumer healthcare business to focus more on its pharmaceuticals unit.

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Deborah Aitken said the deal represents “a step in the right direction for P&G.”​ ​

“We like the steady, broad-based growth of the OTC Health Care market and are pleased to add the consumer-health portfolio,”​​ said David Taylor, Procter & Gamble’s CEO.

Read our coverage of the acquisition HERE​ or why New Chapter's founders decided to leave P&G this month HERE

Johnson & Johnson acquires Zarbee’s Naturals

The acquisition of immune support supplement specialist Zarbee’s Naturals marked Johnson & Johnson’s first foray into products with Supplements Facts panels. When the acquisition was announced on Monday, financial details were not disclosed.

Johnson & Johnson’s existing consumer health portfolio was made up of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs like Tylenol, Benadryl, and Zyrtec.

However, it wasn’t the CPG giant’s first venture into preventive healthcare, as its pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen Research & Development inked a deal with Israeli microbiome testing company DayTwo back in February​​​ to create a platform for personalized clinical nutrition for diabetes.

Read our coverage of the acquisition HERE

General Mills leads $12 million investment in probiotic drinks brand GoodBelly

The venture investing arm of Minneapolis-based General Mills, 301 Inc., led a funding round that poured $12 million into Boulder, CO brand GoodBelly, a line of drinks featuring several probiotics including branded strains by Danish supplier Chr. Hansen.

The General Mills investment reflects the ongoing interest in gut health and the human microbiome among major players in the nutrition industry. GoodBelly is the leading probiotic juice drink in the gut health category, a category which the company projects to hit $64 billion in sales by 2023.

“This investment is a testament to GoodBelly’s leadership in the category and the continued growth of probiotic food and beverages. With this partnership, we look forward to driving new product innovation as well as expanding our team to reach new consumers,”​​ said Alan Murray, chief executive officer of NextFoods, maker of GoodBelly, in a statement.

Read our coverage HERE

The Clorox Company acquires Nutranext

The California-based makers of an eponymous, iconic bleach brand expanded its presence in the supplement space when it bought portfolio company Nutranext in March, adding collagen specialist NeoCell and other brands like Rainbow Light, Blessed Herbs, and Stop Aging Now to its portfolio.

The Clorox Company already had one supplement brand, Renew Life, which it acquired in 2016.

Its CEO Benno O. Dorer said during the company’s Q3 earnings call​ in May that going into the dietary supplements space is in line with Clorox’s strategy.

“We like fragmented categories with no clear leader. We feel like this meets all the criteria of a solid acquisition that we've frankly been emphasizing for years,”​ ​ Dorer said.

Read our coverage HERE

Kirin invests in Thorne Research

Japanese beer company Kirin, together with multi-portfolio firm Mitsui, will each own 30% of Thorne’s shares, according to a communique issued this week.

The investment will enhance Thorne’s operations in the US, where it is based, and Japan.

Commenting on the foray into health business, CEO Yoshinori Isozaki earlier expressed the wish to "just focus on the beer business,” ​NutraIngredients-Asia reported. However, he acknowledged that the firm “cannot achieve sustainable growth from that (beer) business alone.”

The firm will “do bolt-on acquisitions in health if necessary” ​in order “to buy time,"​ he added.

When asked about what the investment means in terms of new product development, Thorne Research CEO Paul Jacobsen hinted that the next opportunity may be in functional beverages.

Read our interview with Thorne CEO Paul Jacobsen HERE​and our coverage of the investment HERE

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