If you’re attune to the world of vitamins and health supplements, then you’ve probably heard the news that Garden of Life and its parent company was recently bought by Nestlé, the largest packaged food company in the world.
In a $2+ billion deal, Nestlé scooped-up Canadian health products company Atrium Innovations. The cash acquisition includes Atrium’s entire roster of nutritional supplement brands, with Garden of Life being the largest.
Before Nestlé’s acquisition of the company, Atrium was owned by a consortium led by European private-equity firm Permira. Atrium, best known for its Garden of Life health supplements, will now be a part of Nestlé’s health sciences arm.
With Nestlé aiming to growing its presence in the consumer healthcare market, the biggest concern surrounds the outlook of Garden of Life’s product development and whether the brand will continue to make high-quality products that are organic, non-GMO, vegan, and gluten-free.
Can We Expect Garden of Life’s Formulas Change?
Nestlé is a corporate giant that’s already under intense scrutiny among conscious consumers. The recent news of its Atrium acquisition has sent shockwaves in health and wellness communities throughout social media. This is particularly evident in natural and holistic health groups where Garden of Life’s products are common staples among thousands of people. Many consumers are concerned that its formulas will inevitably be altered if genetically-modified and/or non-organic ingredients are added.
In a post by Garden of Life’s president Brian Ray, he said the company’s plan is to continue with production as usual.
“When we started looking at our future and our growth, we realized we just could not do it alone. In order to scale true Organics (Certified USDA Organic) and real Non-GMO (Non-GMO Project Verified) ingredients, and provide more people with high-quality, meaningful products at prices they can afford, we needed the help and expertise of a worldwide leader. So, we actually set out on a mission to find a partner that would honor our values, embrace our mission and help us fulfill Garden of Life’s true potential.”
In a leap for reassurance, Ray also noted an aligned vision between Nestlé and Garden of Life.
“I spent time getting to know the people at Nestlé, their vision and their values. I saw first-hand how much we have in common. They have no plans to change us — what we do, what we stand for or what we believe.”
While that may feel relieving to Garden of Life’s loyal consumers, the use of the phrase “no plans” leaves ambiguity of possible changes at some point in the future. It’s also not easy to believe Ray’s comment that Nestlé and Garden of Life both have common values, especially given Nestlé’s blatant use of GMOs and synthetic ingredients.
Massive Acquisitions in the Health Food Industry
Largely due to its commitment in using quality ingredients that are certified organic, non-GMO, vegan, and gluten-free, Garden of Life is a brand that is generally well-received in natural health communities. The acquisition leads many to question whether or not its products will be the same a year from now.
Many are optimistic and confident that Garden of Life will continue producing the same high quality products, and in doing so, have greater financial strength in doing so. I bumped into a Garden of Life rep at local food co-op just last week (late June 2018), and she expressed her optimism in the acquisition. As a strong advocate of organic farming, she believed that it was unlikely the quality of Garden of Life’s products would diminish and how that would be major risk to the brand’s already stellar reputation.
From a business and financial perspective, the recent acquisition of Garden of Life sets an enormous precedent in the health food industry. Just a few months prior, Nestlé acquired Sweet Earth Foods, a California-based brand of trend-setting food products that feature global flavors and plant-based proteins. With moves like these, it’s obvious big players like Nestlé are making strong pushes in the health foods market.
The number of mainstream health supplement brands who share common commitments as Garden of Life are few and far between. With the future of its product formulas at risk of manipulation, Garden of Life will be observed in the coming year with loosely crossed fingers.