ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners, LP (ACAP) today announced an $8 million investment in Rustic Crust, Inc., a “better-for-you” pizza company offering a suite of all-natural and organic products, including ready-made pizza crusts, sauces and pizza kits, as well as its American Flatbread branded frozen pizzas. Whipstitch Capital, a Maine-based investment banking firm, advised on the deal. With the investment in place, Rustic Crust is set to explore opportunities to expand its brand and strengthen operations as it continues to drive sales and execute on its growth plan.
Dedicated to making investments in companies involved in all aspects of the food and agribusiness value chains, ACAP’s investment in Rustic Crust supports an important industry theme for the fund: “better-for-you” branded food. According to the Organic Trade Association, organic sales in the U.S. totaled a new record of $49.4 billion in 2017, up 6.4 percent from the previous year and reflecting new sales of nearly $3.5 billion. Moreover, a 2016 TechSci Research report estimates that the global organic food market is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of more than 14% between now and 2021.
Rustic Crust is a well-known regional brand, and the company’s American Flatbread frozen pizza is the third-fastest growing private frozen pizza brand in the Northeast region. The company is considered a trend-setter, with likely the first wood-fired production plant in the nation. American Flatbread frozen pizza was rated the best-tasting frozen cheese pizza in 2017 by Consumer Reports.
“From the beginning, our goal has been to create delicious and convenient, all-natural meal options for families across the U.S.,” said Brad Sterl, CEO of Rustic Crust. “We’re looking forward to expanding our brand and reaching new customers, while continuing to keep our operations here in New Hampshire. The majority of our employees are from Pittsfield and the surrounding area, and as the business continues to grow, we hope to bring more people to our community, to live and work.”
This investment comes at a time of growth for Rustic Crust, allowing the company to strengthen its presence in rural New Hampshire. Known as Pittsfield's second-largest employer, the company supports nearly 150 jobs and continues to grow.
“Rustic Crust has demonstrated a resounding and unwavering commitment to its community, from its total rebuild after a devastating fire in 2014 to the operation of its second facility in town. The company’s employment has increased by nearly 40% in three years and expansion plans are set to drive positive economic impact for the area,” said Keith Freeman, Principal at ACAP. “At Advantage Capital, we’re looking not only at strong companies poised for growth, but also companies that can make a positive, lasting impact in their communities.”
About Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners, LP (ACAP)
Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners, LP (ACAP) is a $154.5 million fund that is licensed as a Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which focuses on businesses involved in the production, processing and supply of food and agricultural products. It is a partnership between Advantage Capital and eight Farm Credit organizations.
About Rustic Crust, Inc.
Rustic Crust (www.rusticcrust.com) was founded in 1996 and is a leading U.S. national brand of natural prepared, ready-made pizza crusts. Rustic Crust products are certified Non-GMO.
American Flatbread (www.americanflatbreadproducts.com) is a market leader in premium frozen flatbread pizzas. The company is located in Pittsfield, New Hampshire and is the town’s second largest employer.
About Advantage Capital
Advantage Capital provides financing to established and emerging companies located in communities underserved by conventional sources of capital. Since 1992, the firm has invested more than $2.6 billion in companies from a diverse array of industry sectors, and has helped support more than 48,000 jobs. Learn more at www.advantagecap.com, or via Twitter or LinkedIn.
About Farm Credit
Farm Credit supports rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services, today and tomorrow. Farm Credit has been fulfilling its mission of helping these areas grow and thrive for a century by providing farmers, ranchers and others in rural America with the capital they need to make their businesses successful and by financing vital infrastructure and communication services. Because a steady flow of capital means more jobs and economic growth, Farm Credit is able to invest in the vibrancy of communities throughout rural America. For more information about Farm Credit, please visit www.farmcreditnetwork.com.
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