Nestle said on Friday that it has bought a majority stake in Terrafertil, a company offering natural and organic plant based foods.  Terrafertil is the world’s largest buyer of goldenberries (Physalis), an Andean superfood high in vitamins and antioxidants that has been increasing its presence in the international market as a delicacy.

Terrafertil has received international recognition for its positive social impact through its work with hundreds of small farmers. It employs 400 people and has four factories in Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. In September last year Terrafertil Colombia SAS won an award for best medium-sized exporting company of goods.

It currently operates in seven countries. In 2017, the Latin American firm entered the United States with the purchase of 'Essential Living Foods®.'

Laurent Freixe, CEO of Nestlé Zone Americas said, "We are excited to welcome Terrafertil and its employees to the Nestlé family. Its natural, organic and healthy products fully support Nestlé’s purpose to enhance quality of life and contribute to a healthier future. This investment allows us to strengthen our presence in fast-growing categories such as plant-based foods, beverages and healthy snacks, known as ‘superfoods’ due to their high natural nutrient content.”

According to Reuters, the move is the latest step by Nestle to expand its profile in healthy foods as it seeks to offset weakness in the packaged foods sector. Nestle did not say how much it was paying and how big a stake it was taking in the company, which was founded by brothers David, Raul and Daniel Bermeo and two of their school friends in Ecuador in 2005, before expanding in other Latin American countries, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Nestle is present in 191 countries and is based in the Swiss town of Vevey where it was founded more than 150 years ago.

As part of its expansion in the natural health food sector Nestle spent $2.3 billion (1.65 billion pounds) on Canadian vitamin maker Atribum Innovations in December. It also announced deals for Sweet Earth vegetarian foods and Blue Bottle coffee last September and Chameleon Cold-Brew coffee in November.

The following is the Terrafertil Global announcement the Bermeo brothers made on Friday February 9th to their 400 employees:

As three brothers in partnership with two of our best friends, we started Terrafertil in 2005 to share unique products from Latin America to the world and bring the highest quality natural and organic foods from across the world to Latin America. Only in our wildest dreams could we imagine that a decade later we would be among the largest health and wellness brands in the region. Yet, as we have reached this scale, we have only become more convinced of the greater opportunities and potential for our healthy food and beverage products.

After a long and thoughtful process, we have decided to bring Nestle as a strategic partner to Terrafertil. This will best position us to achieve these ambitious goals on a global scale.

We firmly believe that now is the right time to join forces with Nestle. There is a significant opportunity to leverage on each other’s strengths and benefit on Nestle’s expertise to support our growth. Nestle believes in the unique and almost impossible to find power of our company and Nature’s Heart as a multi-category, regional brand. Nestle wholeheartedly agrees with us that the opportunities to deepen and grow from this exceptional foundation are endless.

As the largest food and beverage company in the world Nestle will help us to expand distribution around the world. We will leverage on their experience and expertise in research and development to accelerate innovation, in their marketing strength to educate more consumers about the benefits and quality of our products and capitalize on their operational efficiencies.

We will continue to operate independently as our own company with the same leadership and values and will run Terrafertil the way we have always done it. We will continue to do what we believe is best for our brand, our culture and our business. From a practical point of view, we will continue to operate, grow and execute ferociously on the strategic growth goals we have already been achieving as a team.

As a family business, our values are foundational to how we operate and why we exist as a business. When we were growing up as kids in Ecuador, our father supplied products to Nestle as one of his top customers. We have seen the integrity with which Nestle operates and values its partners.

It is also very important to state that we share with Nestle its commitment to society. This includes creating shared value to the communities where it operates and its environmental practices. We are very excited to have Nestle joining our devotion as Terrafertil further improves livelihoods of our employees and all of the farming families that supply ingredients to our products.

Most importantly, we want to thank you all for your commitment and the heart you have always brought to make our business what it is. Our success is a reflection of our team’s effort and spirit and with this same energy we will continue forward on this next stage of our journey together.”

In gratitude,

David, Raul & Daniel

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