AUA Exits TruFood with Sale to Mubadala

AUA Exits TruFood with Sale to Mubadala

The buy of TruFood by Mubadala follows the firm's sector acquisitions of Mercer Foods and Thrive Foods in December 2021, and the add-on of Freeze-Dry Foods in August 2022

TruFood is a contract manufacturer of branded and private-label nutrition bars, protein bars, chocolate molded products.


AUA Private Equity has sold TruFood Manufacturing, a contract manufacturer of snack foods, to Mubadala Capital. AUA acquired TruFood in 2019 in partnership with food industry executive, Ted Schouten.

TruFood is a contract manufacturer of branded and private-label nutrition bars, protein bars, chocolate molded products, and baked goods that are sold at club, grocery, drug, convenience, and department stores. TruFood’s service capabilities include new concept ideation and formulation, commercialization, manufacturing, and supply chain management. Customers of the company include consumer packaged goods companies and retailers.

Source: TruFood

TruFood was founded in 1985 as the Penhurst Candy Company and is today led by President Ted Schouten. TruFood has a total of 400,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing facilities and is headquartered in Pittsburgh.

During AUA’s ownership term, TruFood improved its management team, created a research and development center, invested in new production capabilities, and closed a complementary add-on acquisition with the buy of Simply Natural Foods, a New York-based co-manufacturer of sugarfree, organic, and kosher protein bars, diet bars, chocolate bars, and peanut butter cups.

“Over the last three years, TruFood has successfully undertaken numerous strategic initiatives, including the acquisition and integration of Simply Natural, the buildout of the TruFood Launchpad R&D Center, the expansion of our manufacturing and production capabilities, the successful onboarding of key customers, and improvement in our financial performance,” said Mr. Schouten. “These achievements, and the conclusion of this transaction, are a clear testament to the outstanding performance of our entire TruFood team, and we thank them for their consistent hard work and dedication.”

The AUA transaction team was led by Partner David Benyaminy, Managing Director Kyce Chihi, Senior Associate Nicolas Pflaum, and Analyst Trip Ewig.

“TruFood has been a strong performing food platform that has exceeded our expectations,” said Mr. Chihi. “TruFood was built into a powerful and differentiated business model, and the company’s success would not have been possible without the leadership team who executed on every aspect of the transformative value creation plan.”

Mubadala Capital, the buyer of TruFood, is an active investor with a specific interest in the consumer and food services sectors. The firm has invested approximately $2 billion of capital over the past eight years and is a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-headquartered Mubadala Investment Company, a $284 billion sovereign investor. Mubadala Capital has offices in New York, San Francisco, London, Rio de Janeiro, and Abu Dhabi.

“TruFood is an exceptional company that has firmly established itself as a market leader, a position it has achieved through a history of reliability, continuous innovation and consistently delivering superior products for its customers. Just as importantly, it has an experienced and dedicated management team and passionate employees who are committed to driving value for the company and all its stakeholders,” said Adnan Azam, a director at Mubadala Capital. “Even as a category leader, TruFood has significant growth potential and we are confident that access to our resources and network, combined with the synergies within the wider Mubadala Capital portfolio, will help the company reach even greater heights.”

A recent food sector transaction completed by Mubadala was the December 2021 acquisition, in partnership with Chicago-based Entrepreneurial Equity Partners, of Mercer Foods (a portfolio company of Graham Partners) and Thrive Foods. The combination of these two businesses created a North American market leader in freeze-dried products including fruits and vegetables, proteins, pet treats, probiotics, enzymes, and prepared meals.

In August, Mercer Thrive closed the add-on acquisition of New York-based Freeze-Dry Foods (240,000 sq. ft.) from London-based Cumming Capital. In September 2022, Mercer Thrive announced the construction of a new 341,000 sq. ft. facility near Milwaukee in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The new facility is expected to become operational in June 2023.

AUA Private Equity makes equity investments from $20 million to $75 million in companies with at least $5 million of EBITDA. Sectors of interest include consumer products and services with a focus on family-owned and Hispanic-oriented businesses. AUA is known for using low leverage to acquire companies and focusing on operational improvements rather than financial engineering to create stakeholder value. In May 2021, AUA held a final and oversubscribed closing of AUA Private Equity Fund II LP with total capital commitments of $310 million. AUA was founded in 2011 and is headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida.

“TruFood is a great example of how AUA’s focus on partnering with top caliber executives and building a world-class management team can drive tremendous value for our investors,” said Andy Unanue, managing partner of AUA. “Our joined efforts have helped to completely transform this business and we wish them continued success in their next phase of growth with their new partners.”

Houlihan Lokey was the financial advisor to AUA on the sale of TruFood, and William Blair was the financial advisor to Mubadala Capital. Additional advisors to AUA and TruFood included Boston Consulting Group and Grant Thornton.

© 2022 Private Equity Professional | October 19, 2022

To search in site, type your keyword and hit enter