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Madison-based Tribe 9 Foods adding to its brand lineup with $26.3M acquisition

Madison-based Tribe 9 Foods adding to its brand lineup with $26.3M acquisition

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Madison-based Tribe 9 Foods is adding another brand to its slate of products as it finalizes the purchase of Carla’s Pasta.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced tens of thousands of restaurants to permanently shut their doors as dining restrictions keep customers away.

Tribe 9 acquired Connecticut-based Carla’s Pasta through a bankruptcy auction. Becoming the third Tribe 9 brand to manufacture pasta, Carla’s Pasta specializes in specialty pastas, such as ravioli with various filling.

“I’m really excited about the combination of products and capabilities that Carla’s has developed in traditional pastas with our leadership in nontraditional pastas,” CEO Brian Durst said.

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Tribe 9 also manufactures products under the brands Yumbutter, specializing in nut butters; Taste Republic, specializing in gluten-free pastas; and RP’s Pasta, specializing in traditional pastas for restaurants and grocery stores, particularly in the Midwest.

BCorps Tribe 9 Foods

An employee at Tribe 9 Foods packages gluten-free cauliflower pasta, sold under the brand Taste Republic. 

Other brands and companies also contract Tribe 9 to manufacture food products.

The acquisition of Carla’s Pasta will significantly increase Tribe 9’s production capabilities and create a new location for manufacturing. Currently, all of Tribe 9’s facilities are in Madison, leaving the business’ entire production vulnerable to power outages or severe weather, Durst said.

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About 135 employees of Carla’s Pasta in Connecticut could also be added to Tribe 9’s payroll, Durst said, as most employees were offered continued employment. Tribe 9 has about 125 employees in Madison.

Carla’s Pasta manufactures products primarily for restaurants — one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic.

“The pandemic hit us incredibly hard — there’s no doubt about that,” said Sandro Squatrito, vice president of business development for Carla’s Pasta, in a statement. “While it hurt us to file for bankruptcy, we’re grateful that a value-driven organization such as Tribe 9 will be at the helm going forward. This means people keep their jobs and Carla’s legacy lives on.”

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Tribe 9 has managed relatively well during the pandemic with ups and downs along the way and with different brands, Durst said.

Taste Republic and RP’s Pasta brands have done well as more people are purchasing products from grocery stores to cook at home instead of going out to restaurants, Durst said.

On the other hand, Yumbutter hasn’t seen that same growth as Tribe 9’s other brands, Durst said. More people are buying bulk products compared to the smaller and even individual sizes of Yumbutter products.

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People are also spending less time walking down grocery aisles and may not notice Yumbutter if it wasn’t a brand they already knew. Durst said the pandemic has challenged many smaller brands in the same way.


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