CHICACO and GREEN BAY, WIS. — Arbor Investments announced Dec. 9 it has invested in Carnivore Meat Company, an ultra-premium pet food and treat manufacturer focused on freeze-dried and frozen products. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to Arbor, Carnivore Meat Company is “among the largest pure-play freeze-dried raw pet food producers in North America.” The company produces two brands — Vital Essentials and Nature’s Advantage, which it first introduced in July 2020  — at its state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities using a proprietary freeze-drying process.

The manufacturer’s portfolio also includes Vital Cat, which offers cat food and treat products, and VE RAW BAR, a line of freeze-dried chews including bully sticks, duck heads, hearts and necks, pig ears and snouts, turkey necks and other animal byproducts.

The company distributes to more than 7,200 retailers across the United States and Canada, as well as online through Chewy and Amazon. Carnivore Meat Company brands are also exported to 14 international markets.

“The Carnivore team have developed distinctive products with a fanatical customer base,” said Chris Tuffin, partner at Arbor Investments. “The freeze-dry sector is seeing meteoric growth as pet parents learn about the unrivaled benefits of a raw diet. We look forward to bringing our resources and capital to help increase capacity and support the step-change acceleration in the Company’s growth.”

The company was founded by Lanny Viegut, current chief executive officer, in 2012. Under his leadership, Carnivore Meat Company has been recognized to Inc. Magazine’s 5000 list of American’s fastest-growing private companies for three years in a row. In 2021, the company was ranked No. 2,811 on the list with a 141% three-year growth rate.

“Carnivore has been blessed with incredible growth and we see acceleration at an even faster rate in the future,” said Viegut. “When we saw this opportunity to partner with a team who completely match us in culture, values and beliefs…and who share the same commitment to manufacturing premium quality food products, we just had to say, 'YES!' This partnership will help us stay ahead of the ever-increasing demand for our 100% raw protein products. Carnivore and Arbor are a perfect fit and the timing couldn’t be better. With our combined experience and expertise, along with Arbor’s resources, we will continue scaling quickly to stay ahead of the incredible demand curve for our ultra-premium quality raw pet foods and treats.”

Viegut and other senior leadership at Carnivore Meat Company will keep their roles and continue to lead the business.

“Lanny and his team have built something truly incredible, not only in terms of product, but in terms of a unique culture,” said Carl Allegretti, president of Arbor Investments. “The Carnivore team’s customer-centric approach and ‘find ways to say yes’ attitude across the organization is a clear driver of their tremendous success, and a seamless fit with Arbor’s hands-on approach. We couldn’t be more excited about our new partnership.”

This investment is not Arbor Investment’s first venture into the pet space. In December 2018, Arbor Investments acquired Mars Petcare’s Exclusive Brands business, relaunching the private label pet food and treat manufacturing venture as Red Collar Pet Foods. Since then, Red Collar has either renovated or upgraded almost all of its production capabilities across the United States, acquired Hampshire Pet Products, which is a leading pet treat co-manufacturer based in Joplin, Mo., and is now one of the top pet food and treat manufacturing companies in North America.

On Dec. 6, Carnivore Meat Company also announced the addition of Steve Marcelle as senior supply chain manager. Marcelle will support the company’s growth goals by leading all of the company’s product identification, acquisition, production and distribution activities. This includes managing product and vendor selection, vendor performance, cost reductions, vendor contracts, sourcing, inventory levels and purchase specifications.

Steve Marcelle, senior supply chain manager at Carnivore Meat Company.Steve Marcelle, senior supply chain manager at Carnivore Meat Company. (Photo courtesy of Carnivore Meat Company) 

“Steve’s gift for planning and logistics will be invaluable for the continued growth of the company,” says Brian Lakari, vice president of operations at Carnivore Meat Company. “Steve has already worked abroad negotiating contracts and pricing with European suppliers, and has repeatedly demonstrated his skills in this area. We are excited to see the benefits of Steve’s experience and insight as we strive to meet the needs of our customers and their furry family members even more efficiently.”

Marcelle offers extensive global purchasing and planning experience. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and also holds certificates in marketing and entrepreneurship.

“I've worked in supply chain roles for the last six-and-a-half years, including three months in Germany to integrate supply chains domestically and internationally,” Marcelle said. “I’m looking forward to using my knowledge and skills to help an already great company optimize its supply chains and internal procedures.”

Read more about corporate strategy, financial performance, mergers and acquisitions on our Business page.