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Iris Invests in Biomel, Maker of Plant-based Drinks Promoting Gut Health

LONDON — The wellness category is wooing consumers and investors alike, and Iris Ventures is the latest fund to put its money behind products aimed at enhancing the mind and body.

Iris, a growth equity fund targeting European and U.S. purpose-led, consumer-centric brands and tech-enabled solutions, has invested 5.5 million pounds in Biomel, a market-leading, plant-based gut health brand.

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Biomel, founded in 2017 by husband-and-wife team Steven Hegarty and Janett Lozano, produces a range of drinks, snack bars and powders at its innovation and manufacturing facility in west London.

Iris described the investment as strategic, and said it will position Biomel for an “unprecedented scale-up,” and help the company pursue its mission of making “good gut health delicious.”

The investor argued that Biomel created the plant-based gut health market with its series of dairy-free, cultured drinks with rich flavors including Belgian chocolate, vanilla and coconut. The formulas are meant to aid digestive and immune health.

According to Iris, Biomel’s operating profitability has been positive since the company’s second year in business, while organic revenue growth has been averaging more than 80 percent per year.

Iris added that Biomel has been expanding capacity at its west London innovation and production facility to meet soaring demand.

The brand sells through retailers in the U.K. including Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Whole Foods Market. It has also been growing the distribution network through independent retailer chains and in international markets.

Montse Suarez, founder and managing partner of Iris Ventures, said the decision to back Biomel’s founders “aligns perfectly with our mandate to empower a new generation of extraordinary visionaries.”

She described Hegarty and Lozano as “clear trailblazers in the plant-based gut health category,” and said they have “a refreshing and contemporary brand proposition that resonates with the modern consumer.”

Hegarty, whose title is chief executive officer, said the brand is based on the premise that “your gut is at the heart of your health. Gut health affects everything from digestive to mental health through the gut-brain axis. In fact, 70 percent of serotonin, the happy neurotransmitter and hormone, is produced in the gut.”

Biomel, he added, has developed proprietary IP to create its “next-generation probiotic and prebiotic solutions,” and plans to work with Iris to drive “total category growth and market expansion, and position ourselves as a leader in the functional gut health sector more broadly.”

Iris isn’t the first investor to put its money behind a category known as functional nutrition.

Unilever has been making regular acquisitions in the area.

Last month, during a quarterly results presentation, Unilever said that brands including Liquid I.V., an electrolyte powder that claims to help people rehydrate faster than water, and Olly gummy vitamins and supplements, were outstripping expectations.

Iris Ventures has a varied portfolio and its investments are lifestyle and innovation-focused.

Its businesses include iris-ventures-1235165848/” data-ylk=”slk:Allyson Felix’s Saysh;elm:context_link;itc:0″ class=”link “>Allyson Felix’s Saysh footwear brand; the Italian arts and crafts platform Artemest; and Mammaly, a leading pet supplement brand.

Earlier this year, Iris teamed with soccer stars Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann on a multimillion-euro investment in Vicio, a top food-delivery start-up based in Spain that sells premium burgers online, and through its own physical locations.

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