Owned by private equity firm Waterland, EMPWR is a co-manufacturer of protein bars with headquarters in Ghent, Belgium and a manufacturing facility in Nova Gradiska, Croatia. Its product range takes in both vegan and dairy protein bars, from bars containing a lower (20%) protein content for lifestyle consumers to 50% protein bars for serious athletes.
EMPWR said it first made overtures to acquire Noble Foods last autumn, when it started looking at establishing local manufacturing in North America to support its growth trajectory in this market. A nutritional bar manufacturer with manufacturing sites in Montreal, Canada, and McMinnville (Oregon), USA, Noble Foods was an obvious target.
Like EMPWR, Noble Foods is a private label manufacturer but with complementary rather than competing product capabilities. Its expertise lies in producing customised recipes using its coating, layering and depositing capabilities.
This can be applied to produce a variety of bars, including granola bars, crisp bars from soy, whey, pea, rice and ancient grain crisps, nut and dried fruit bars, and specialist health bars such as low carb, high protein, vitamin fortified and diet bars.
Novacap Private Equity
Since it was founded in Montreal in 1999, Noble Foods has grown into a mid-sized manufacturer and was bought in 2018 by Novacap Private Equity, who invested in automation and expansion of capacity. Then in 2020, Noble Foods acquired Betty Lou, an Oregon based co-manufacturer.
In a joint press release, EMPWR and Noble Foods said that together, they would be able to offer their existing customers “new products and capabilities”, thereby strengthening their position as “leader in the premium nutritional bar segment”.
“The broader product portfolio and capabilities will support our customers in their journey to bring products to consumers looking for alternatives to high sugar confectionery: the so called ‘better for you products’,” said Peter Denolf, CEO of EMPWR Nutrition Group, adding: “The acquisition brings us a step closer to realising our ambition to be the market leader in this segment.”
Lee Shulkin, co-founder and president of Noble Foods, said: “The nutritional bar market is growing fast. In North America it’s a $5b billion industry with a positive future growth outlook as more and more consumers consciously choose a convenient and healthier lifestyle.
"Together, our companies will become an even stronger manufacturing partner with a broad product portfolio and excellent growth opportunities on both continents.”
The combined EMPWR and Noble Foods Group will employ over 450 people.