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Arjan Stephens named as President of Nature's Path Organic Foods, Discusses the Company's Acquisition Strategy

As the organic industry has grown and proliferated over the years, the number of family-owned and operated brands has dwindled, with large CPG multinationals going on a decades-long acquisition spree.

One of the most prominent family-owned companies that has maintained its independence is Nature’s Path Organic Foods, which was started and has been run by Ratana and Arran Stephens for the past 35 years, both of whom also serve on its board of directors.

With Ratana Stephens having just stepped down as CEO, her son Arjan, who previously served as the company’s general manager and president of the Que Pasa brand, has been named as the new president of Nature’s Path Organic Foods.

With the next generation now running this revered brand, including Arjan’s sister, Jyoti, who is the company’s vice president of mission and strategy, I spoke with my long-time friend and asked him about what the road ahead will look like.

What is it like for you to now be running Nature’s Path, the family company that has been a part of your life ever since you were a child?

Growing up in a family deeply rooted in the organic movement, I witnessed the dedication and passion that my parents, Ratana and Arran Stephens, poured into building this company and helping grow the organic food movement. Their unwavering commitment to organic food and sustainable practices inspired me from a young age.

It has been a great challenge to grow the company over these years, and it has always been my aspiration to contribute to Nature’s Path Organic Foods’ legacy of nourishing people and the planet. To be able to do so now, as president, is an honor, and I’m excited for this opportunity to lead our exceptional team and drive our mission forward.

How will Nature’s Path be different — or the same — under your leadership?

Nature’s Path Organic Foods will always embody our core values and long-standing commitment to organic, sustainable food. My grandfather gave us the motto to ‘always leave the soil better than we found it.’

As the new president, my goal is to preserve this while driving growth and innovation. I’m excited, as the second generation, to infuse a fresh perspective into the business and focus on building upon our strong foundation to further expand our impact.

Specifically, one area of focus I plan to hone in on is product innovation. Over the past decade, we have successfully launched over 100 new products, which brings our total number of products offered to more than 350. Moving forward, we will continue to invest in research and development to deliver tasty, nutritious organic options to our customers.

Additionally, strategic acquisitions will be another area of focus. Nature’s Path Organic Foods has completed four acquisitions over the years: including Que Pasa (2013), Country Choice Organic (2015), Anita’s Organic Mill (2021) and Love Child Organics (2023) – which have played a vital role in our overall growth.

Lastly, we have assembled an amazing team on all levels of the company. We’re now at an exciting place to continue and improve upon operational efficiencies, our sustainability practices and product innovations. So, that will also be an area of focus for me.

With many organic food brands struggling to raise money right now, it puts Nature’s Path in a strong position to make acquisitions. What are the key factors that you consider when making an acquisition?

At Nature’s Path Organic Foods, we recognize the opportunity to make strategic acquisitions that align with our mission and contribute to our growth trajectory.

When considering potential acquisitions, we carefully evaluate several key factors, including the alignment of values, market fit, potential for synergy and the ability to enhance our organic offerings.

We are pleased to receive a steady stream of inquiries, as our reputation as a leader in the organic industry and our financial stability make us an attractive partner. We maintain our rigorous evaluation process to ensure any acquisition aligns with our long-term vision and brings value to our customers and the organic industry as a whole.

Your mother and father are enormous and very inspirational figures in the organic industry. What is the biggest lesson you learned from both of them, in respect to running this business?

My parents have left an indelible mark on the organic industry, and I am grateful for the invaluable lessons they’ve taught me. One of the most significant lessons I learned from them is the importance of resilience and perseverance. They instilled in me a steadfast determination to overcome challenges and continue pushing forward, even in the face of adversity.

What is not widely known is that my parents started in the restaurant business with a $1,500 loan that they used to buy pre-owned equipment from a bankrupt restaurant down the road, which my dad carried back to his restaurant all by himself.

From the back of my family’s restaurant, Nature’s Path Organic Foods was born. It’s that type of work ethic and commitment, instilled in me by my parents, that has led me to have the kind of focus and drive I have today.

(From l. to r., Jyoti Stephens, Arjan Stephens, Arran Stephens, Ratana Stephens)

With gratitude,

Max Goldberg, Founder

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