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Pinnacle Foods to buy Garden Protein (Gardein): 'Plant-based protein is at the tipping point of becoming mainstream'

By Elaine Watson+

14-Nov-2014
Last updated on 14-Nov-2014 at 17:53 GMT2014-11-14T17:53:30Z

Garden Protein (Gardein) founder & CEO Yves Potvin
Garden Protein (Gardein) founder & CEO Yves Potvin

Pinnacle Foods has struck a deal to acquire Canadian plant-based food specialist Garden Protein International (Gardein) for C$175m ($154m) from founder Yves Potvin and private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners.

Garden Protein, which is expected to generate net sales of about C$65m in 2014, will join Pinnacle's Birds Eye Frozen Division.

Founded in 2009 by Yves Potvin, a classically trained French chef, Gardein has tripled its business in the last three years and is available in the frozen food aisle at over 22,000 retailers across North America including Kroger, Target and Publix, plus 5,000 restaurants and 100 colleges.

Under the deal, New Jersey-based Pinnacle Foods will acquire the Gardein brand, a manufacturing plant in Vancouver and nearly 250 employees, said CEO Bob Gamgort: "We believe that plant-based protein is at the tipping point of becoming mainstream, making Gardein an exciting new growth platform for the Birds Eye business. 

"We congratulate Yves and the Gardein team for pioneering new territory in food and look forward to welcoming them to Pinnacle."

We're going beyond the bun

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the reThinkFood conference over the weekend, Potvin said he was not on a messianic mission against meat, but wanted to offer tasty plant-based protein options to vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.

He has also been keen to avoid being pigeonholed as a 'meat-alternative' brand tucked away in the 'vegetarian foods' or 'natural foods' section, and said his products do best when they are merchandised in the main freezer section, where they reach a wider audience.

As for products, while Gardein has several meat-free burgers, it also sells a wide range of other options from wings, tenders, crispy fingers, cutlets, riblets, meatballs and tenders to sliders, breakfast sandwiches and scallopini, said Potvin.

"We're going beyond the bun. People got bored of just seeing veggie burgers."

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