Atlantic Natural Foods snaps up plant-based food maker Neat Foods

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Atlantic Natural Foods snaps up plant-based food maker Neat Foods
Lancaster, PA-based Neat Foods – a small, but rapidly-growing player in the plant-based foods category – has been acquired by Atlantic Natural Foods LLC, which makes canned vegetarian products under the Meatless Select and Caroline’s brands.

The terms of the deal – which is expected to close before the end of the year – were not disclosed.

Neat meat-substitutes (which are stocked in the ambient aisles) don’t contain soy, and are instead based on a combination of garbanzo beans and pecan nuts - plus gluten free whole grain oats, organic whole grain gluten free cornmeal, sea salt and spices.

To prepare them, shoppers open a pack, add water and two eggs (which boost the protein content and serve as a binder), and throw the mix into a skillet - just like ground beef. Original is for burgers and chili; Italian is for meatballs and lasagne; Mexican is for tacos; and Breakfast is for quiches and breakfast sandwiches.

Neat packaging
neat products don’t contain soy, and are instead based on a combination of protein-packed garbanzo beans and pecan nuts - plus gluten free whole grain oats, organic whole grain gluten free corn meal, sea salt and spices.

The Neat Egg - the company’s fastest-growing product - is a combination of ground chia seeds and garbanzo beans consumers can mix with water and use to replace egg in everything from cookies to pancakes.

Why sell now?

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after the deal was announced, Neat Foods co-founder Phil Lapp said he would be leaving the business, but that his wife Laura (who co-founded Neat Foods) would be staying on for three years working on product development.

As to why the Lapps – who founded the business in 2011 - chose to sell now, he said: “We took it as far as a married couple with kids in their mid-30's could financially bear. At that point a brand either levels out, or is infused with capital and grows.”

neat egg

Each 4.5oz pouch of neat egg makes the equivalent of 18 eggs (consumers add 2 tbsp of water to 1 tbsp of neat egg to yield the equivalent of 1 egg), says the firm, which designed the product for use in recipes where eggs serve as binders and leavening agents.

Today, neat branded meat and egg alternatives are available in about 2,000 US grocery stores, with the neat eggs set to be in all Target stores by spring 2016, he said.

“We also export to Israel under the name ‘Vega’ and do a branded foodservice burger for a QSR in the states called Grub Burger Bar.”

Asked whether they had talked to several potential suitors, he said: “Broadly yes, but none this specific. It was an ideal match.”

The Lapp family Neat Foods
Laura and Phil Lapp and their children Kaitlyn (left) and Morgan (right)

‘At that point a brand either levels out, or is infused with capital and grows’

Atlantic Natural Foods has one production facility in Nashville, North Carolina, and a warehouse in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and will continue to market neat products under the neat brand, CEO Kelly Krause told reporters​.

VisionCorps (formerly the Susquehanna Association for the Blind and Vision Impaired), which employs blind and visually impaired people, will also continue to produce the products, said Krause.

Atlantic Natural Foods is a subsidiary of AFT Holdings, Inc., an international investment and management group with a portfolio spanning real estate, sustainable foods development, global fishing fleets and technology.  

Read about how Neat Foods got started HERE​.

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