Manna Tree Partners Makes $15 Million Minority Investment in Verde Farms

Manna Tree Partners has made three previous investments: Vital Farms, MycoTechnology and Nutriati.

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Manna Tree Partners, a Vail, CO-based asset manager that invests growth capital in companies that produce, process and distribute healthy food, announced it has made a $15 million minority investment in Woburn, MA-based Verde Farms, a pioneer and leading provider of 100% grass-fed, 100% pasture-raised, organic beef for retail, club, and foodservice customers. Manna Tree Partners was founded in 2018 by Gabrielle Rubenstein, CEO; Ross Iverson, CIO; and Brent Drever, COO. This is Manna Tree Partners fourth investment.

"Consumers today are more keenly attuned to the impacts of their purchase decisions from a health and sustainability standpoint. We believe Verde is well-positioned to become the brand of choice for these consumers based on their sustainability and animal welfare standards, superior-quality products, traceable supply chain, and a proven, sustainable business model," says Manna Tree Partners COO Brent Drever.

"Manna Tree Partners shares our mission-driven commitment to providing consumers with beef that is better for people, better for the animal, and better for the planet and to craft products using only great-tasting, authentic ingredients like those you can find in your own cupboard at home. This partnership will better enable us to meet rising global demand for 100% grass-fed, 100% pasture-raised beef. In 2020 we are excited to introduce innovative, ready-to-eat mealtime options unlike anything on the market and to continue our geographic expansion within the United States in the near-term and internationally in the long-term," says Dana Ehrlich, CEO of Verde.

Verde Farms Overview

  • Profitable, growing company
    • Grew revenue more than 35% since 2016 by accelerating growth of branded, value-added products
  • Major customers
    • Customers across e-commerce, natural/specialty, club and foodservice channels, including: Wegmans, Wal-Mart, Aldi, Harris Teeter, Amazon, BJs Wholesale Clubs, Schnuck's, Fresh Thyme, Bristol Farms, and True Foods Kitchen
  • Vertically-integrated model provides best-in-class, healthier beef at competitive prices
    • Four top beef origins: Uruguay, North America, Australia and New Zealand
    • Top products include: Steaks, grinds, roasts & stews, hot dogs, and sausages
  • Strong commitment to social, environmental and economic sustainability, transparent supply chain, and animal welfare
  • Experienced management team built for growth
    • Senior leadership team, from prestigious brands such as Pepsi, Stonyfield Farm, and Teton Waters, is built out to scale and sustain large-scale operations

Market Opportunity

  • Global beef market is expected to reach $383 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research
  • Sustainability-marketed food products grew by 24% from 2013 to 2018 and are expected to reach $141 billion in sales by 2023, according to research by Nielsen
  • While conventional beef is a low single-digit growth category, Organic Grass-Fed Beef grew 14.8% in dollar sales in 2019, continuing a trend of several years of strong double-digit sales growth. Sources: IRI Total US MULO 52 weeks ending December 2019; Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

What is Grass-Fed?

100% grass-fed beef comes from cattle that eat a diet of only grass and other plant forages. As ruminants, cattle are happiest and healthiest when they eat grass, and the meat ends up being healthier and tastier as a result.

What is Pasture-Raised?

Pasture-Raised beef means cattle are free to roam and graze on open fields, the way nature intended. Free range cattle are never confined to feedlots. Each of our animals has an average of two acres of land to roam.

What is Organic?

Organic foods are USDA-certified to be raised or grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, GMOs, antibiotics or added growth hormones. The pastures on which Verde's cattle graze are USDA-certified organic lands.

Manna Tree Partners invests in an organization's ability to provide sustainable and traceable ingredients in the marketplace. With the right capital structure, Manna Tree Partners investments can scale while preserving the integrity of their ingredients. Manna Tree Partners works with international organizations and individuals who have a deep commitment to sourcing their own food.

Manna Tree Partners has made three previous investments: Vital Farms, MycoTechnology and Nutriati.

Verde Farms was advised by Stifel.