PadillaCRT acquires nutrition comms firm FoodMinds

The two firms previously collaborated on projects for the Hass Avocado Board.

Lynn Casey
Lynn Casey

MINNEAPOLIS: PadillaCRT has acquired FoodMinds, a food and nutrition communications and consulting company.

The acquisition officially took place on May 20, making PadillaCRT and FoodMinds collectively the third-largest food and beverage group in the country among independent agencies, with combined revenues in excess of $40 million.

FoodMinds, which has 35 employees, will retain its brand and operate as a division of PadillaCRT. FoodMinds' founders Laura Cubillos, Bill Layden, and Sue Pitman will join PadillaCRT’s leadership team as they continue to build the FoodMinds brand. No layoffs resulted from the deal.

For the time being, FoodMinds will maintain its headquarters in Chicago and offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Pitman, FoodMinds' founder and EVP, told PRWeek the firm could eventually merge its Washington, D.C. location with Padilla’s office in the nation's capital.

FoodMinds will collaborate on joint assignments with PadillaCRT’s food and beverage practice, which includes clients such as the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, and Wines from Rioja (Spain).

FoodMinds was founded in 2006 with the goal of helping food, nutrition, and health clients engage in public dialogue and navigate the science, public affairs, and communications landscape. FoodMinds will leverage Padilla’s expertise and resources in creative, digital, research, branding, crisis, and critical issues communications.

Padilla acquired FoodMinds because the two firms have worked informally together on projects with the Hass Avocado Board. FoodMinds has worked with the board since 2010, Padilla since 2012.

"We engage with [the board] in key opinion leader outreach and engagement to help tell the avocado food, nutrition, and research story to help professionals and consumers," said Pitman. "A few years ago, PadillaCRT joined the team and we worked closely together to ensure strategies around food and nutrition comms extend throughout consumer PR and advertising."

Padilla identified food and beverage as one of its major growth opportunities, and FoodMinds rounded out the firm’s food capabilities offering, said Lynn Casey, PadillaCRT CEO.

"We have one registered dietician on staff; FoodMinds has 14," Casey added. "When you are talking about navigating the ecosystem around food - which has become political and news-saturated, and some of the news isn’t credible - it's nice to have food scientists and registered dieticians to navigate truth for our clients."

FoodMinds did the deal with Padilla to offer career growth and development for its staffers, explained Pitman.

"Padilla’s capabilities offer our existing and future clients expanded digital, social, creative, and thinking about how food and nutrition is evolving," said Pitman.

FoodMinds’ other clients include Nestlé, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff.

There are no client conflicts following the deal, Casey noted, for which financial details were not disclosed.

Last November, Padilla also acquired brand consultancy Joe Smith. Market research firm SMS Research Advisors is also part of PadillaCRT. Padilla Speer Beardsley acquired CRT/tanaka in 2013 to create PadillaCRT.

PadillaCRT’s revenue in 2015 was $34.8 million. In last year's PRWeek Agency Business Report, FoodMinds reported 2014 revenue of just over $8 million, up 25% on the year prior.

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