Brynwood Partners VI L.P., Greenwich, Conn., signed a definitive agreement on Aug. 22 to acquire a controlling stake in the Back to Nature brand food business through a joint venture partnership with Kraft Foods, Northfield, Ill. Kraft Foods will continue to hold a substantial minority stake in the business and will have board representation in the joint venture that is to be formed. Terms and conditions of the transaction, which is scheduled to close in October, will not be disclosed.

Founded in 1960, Back to Nature is one of the original natural food brands in the United States. The joint venture will initially offer Back to Nature products in four categories: crackers, cookies, trail mixes and nuts, and granola, while management of the Back to Nature macaroni and cheese business will remain with Kraft Foods. Back to Nature products are widely distributed in the United States through leading retailers in the natural, food, drug, mass and club channels.

As part of the transaction, Brynwood VI will appoint Vincent Fantegrossi president and CEO of the new company. Fantegrossi previously served as president and CEO of Richelieu Foods Inc., a Brynwood Partners V L.P. investment.

"We are excited to announce the Back to Nature transaction and are honored that Kraft Foods selected Brynwood VI as its joint venture partner," said Henk Hartong III, senior managing partner of Brynwood VI. "We look forward to growing the Back to Nature brand and helping it to achieve even greater success in both the natural and mainstream channels through select new product and new category introductions, while staying true to the mission of giving people truly flavorful, wholesome foods made with simple ingredients. We are excited to work with Kraft in this unique joint venture between a private equity firm and a consumer products company formed to maximize the value of a smaller brand in its portfolio."

Brynwood Partners has acquired 36 corporate brands from 14 different corporate sellers, including the Back to Nature acquisition. Current and prior investments include Turtles chocolate candy and Flipz chocolate-covered pretzels (acquired from Nestlé USA, Inc.); TrueNorth nut clusters and Kretschmer wheat germ (acquired from PepsiCo, Inc.); and Balance Bar energy/nutrition bars (acquired from Kraft Foods).

Source: Brynwood Partners VI L.P., PRNewswire