Why Paine Schwartz’s food safety company keeps gobbling up peers

Brad Riemenapp, chief executive of newly rebranded FoodChain ID, tells Agri Investor he expects the company will have doubled in size by the end of his first full year.

Global ID, a food testing, inspection and certification company headquartered in Fairfield, Iowa and held within the Paine Schwartz Partners portfolio, has rebranded as FoodChain ID.

The company, which offers specialized food safety, testing and validation services for food and beverage ingredient and food component industries, was acquired by Paine in October 2016, using capital from its $893 million Fund IV.

Chief executive Brad Riemenapp, who succeeded the company’s founder Ken Ross in that position in September, said the change to “FoodChain ID” was designed to streamline sales marketing and communications efforts.

Riemenapp described to Agri Investor how after the company’s founding more than 20 years ago, Global ID had grown organically from an initial focus on food safety testing; first by branching out into certification and, about 10 years ago, adding services required to attain non-GMO labeling. Because the company established distinct units for those services as they were added, Riemenapp said, some customers were left confused as to the range of services the single company offered.

“In some cases, they’d be working with our Genetic ID business, and ask us: ‘Hey, have you ever heard of these guys at Food Chain ID?’ and we’d say ‘Yeah, that’s us!’,” Riemenapp explained.

Full circle

Worldwide, Riemenapp said, the food testing, inspection and certification market is being propelled by consumers’ increasing demands for transparency in the food chain, the implementation of regulations designed to encourage that transparency and growing globalization of the food chain.

While much of the resulting consolidation has been carried out by the industry’s publicly listed heavyweights, Riemenapp said there are signs that investor interest is also growing elsewhere in the market.

“I’ve absolutely seen an increased level of interest, certainly in the private sector, wanting to get into this space,” said Riemenapp. “We frequently get asked if we are for sale.”

In fact, Riemenapp said that in his former position, as global vice president and general manager at Princeton, New Jersey-headquartered contract research organization Covance, he actually participated in the sale process by which the then-Global ID was sold by its previous owners, Newton Square, Pennsylvania-headquartered private investment firm Inverness Graham.

“Global ID quickly became the number one target asset that I wanted to acquire in the US food testing market space,” Riemenapp said.

According to a presentation for its Food Chain Fund V, which is currently seeking $1.2 billion, Paine’s initial investment in Global ID was $92 million.

Since Riemenapp joined the company in September, FoodChain ID has acquired Brazilian food safety lab Analitus Analises Biotechnological, Italian organic certification specialists Bioagricert and Quality Partners, which offers food safety testing services in France, Belgium and Luxembourg.

“We frequently get asked if we are for sale”
Brad Riemenapp

The acquisitions are part of a rapid growth that Riemenapp said he expects will lead to a doubling of the company’s size by the end of his first year in the position. Despite the recent string of acquisitions outside the US, Riemenapp said FoodChain ID is not disproportionately focused on international expansion.

“We think the US is equally, if not more, attractive than markets abroad, whether those are European markets or whether those are South American market,” Riemenapp said. “We think there are certain segments of the food industry that we have a strong affiliation with and a concentration of services to support, so we don’t look at the entire food industry equally.”

To demonstrate, Riemenapp described FoodChain ID’s experience in soybeans as including work with related businesses including growers, crushers, ingredient suppliers and providers of finished food products.

“It happens to be, a lot of soy is produced in Brazil, and ends up in Europe, where a lot of it ends up being consumed. We’re starting at the growing side of it in South America and ending up at the finished food consumption side in Europe, and through that trade process, we participate in both ends of that,” Riemenapp said.

“It’s maybe not as much about the geography as you would think, and, in fact, in many ways, the geography is an outcome of the sectors we are focused on.”