Chicago, IL—Whole Earth Brands Inc. has entered an agreement to acquire all of the issued and outstanding capital stock of WSO Investments Inc., the holding company for Wholesome Sweeteners Incorporated.
“Consumers are demanding more dietary options that enable healthier lifestyles, and Whole Earth Brands’ business strategy is built on meeting those needs through our innovative product pipeline and global distribution network,” said Irwin D. Simon, Executive Chairman of Whole Earth Brands, in the press release. “Sweets are a joyful experience in cultures around the world, and consumers are demanding more sweetener options that fit within their individual health and dietary needs so that they can continue to enjoy life’s everyday moments and the celebrations that bring us together. Whole Earth Brands is delivering on that expectation by becoming the leader in plant-based and alternative sweeteners around the world, and we are looking forward to integrating Wholesome and growing the world-class brands within our Whole Earth Brands platform.”
The transaction has been approved by both companies’ Boards of Directors. The initial purchase price is $180 million in cash, according to a press release on the topic, and is expected to close during Whole Earth Brands’ first quarter 2021, contingent on completion of a review under antitrust laws.
The press release notes that organic sugar consumption is growing at 1.5x the rate of conventional sugar in the United States, and Wholesome is the largest single importer and consumer of organic sugar in the country. Wholesome Sweeteners holds a 76% share in the organic granulated sugar segment of the organic and natural channel, the press release says, and has achieved retail sales growth of approximately 52% over the 52-week period ending November 1, 2020.
Nigel Willerton, Chief Executive Officer at Wholesome Sweeteners, commented in the press release, “Wholesome is the #1 organic brand in the natural channel. The Wholesome brand was built on a mission of supporting farmers and to date has paid nearly $23 million in Fair Trade premiums. We share a common vision with Whole Earth Brands – to support consumers’ health and wellness goals by providing innovative products that they can feel good about and enjoy. Our business aligns with the powerful movements in the U.S. and around the world. Our extendable brands create opportunities for significant growth through channel, product and category expansion. This combination with Whole Earth Brands brings together like-minded companies with complementary strengths to unlock powerful value in the organic and natural category.”
Combined with Whole Earth’s recent acquisition of Swerve, this acquisition will bring natural sweeteners to 87% of Whole Earth’s U.S. Branded CPG sales mix.
“Wholesome will mark our second strategic acquisition since our business combination in June of this year and we are excited about the platform we are building across the sweetener category in North America,” said Albert Manzone, Whole Earth Brands Chief Executive Officer. “Wholesome’s leading position in organic sugar, honey, agave and allulose is a perfect complement to our existing portfolio of natural and alternative sweeteners. This transaction brings us additional scale that we believe will enhance our competitive position and help us expand consumers’ access to the delicious foods they love. We look forward to working with Nigel and the Wholesome team.”