A relative newcomer to the infant supply market is poised to become a giant.
Bobbie Formula, founded in 2018 by Laura Modi, acquired industry mainstay Nature’s One after raising $70 million in a Series C round to seal the deal. “Bobbie has captured the hearts and minds of the next generation of parents. Nature’s One has the operational prowess to get manufacturing up and running,” Modi told Fortune. “And frankly, you need both to win.”
Following last year’s devastating supply chain issues, which sparked a baby formula shortage and subsequent panic for parents of newborns, a reliable manufacturing arm is especially critical, Modi adds, as “this industry is not resilient.”
Bobbie has seen its own ups and downs over the years, too. One year after launching with its $26 “European-style” formula – so named because it adheres to stricter EU regulations – the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required a recall on it, due to concerns over labeling. In 2021, Bobbie relaunched with an FDA-approved product.
Modi, a former Airbnb executive, first launched the company after struggling to breastfeed her own child. Nature’s One founder Jay Highman says Bobbie’s focus on ingredients spoke to him, as the father of a child with cystic fibrosis who has specific dietary needs. Both Highman and Modi will stay on as leaders of the merged company. In addition, Nature’s One’s 70 employees will join Bobbie’s 106-strong staff, Fortune learned.
Modi now hopes to grow enough, post-purchase, to serve 15% of the non-WIC market – as in, those not purchasing formula through government-run nutrition support programs for women, infants and children. The 2022 shortage has made her reticent to set her sights higher, she says. “The industry desperately needs to be diversified. It needs more competition.”
Modi added, “We’re relying on too few manufacturers to make too few products. The only way to ensure we don’t go through another shortage is to have redundancy and resiliency.”