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Former Nestlé Waters CEO joins Ontario’s Flow Water

Maurizio-Patarnello_Credit-Flow-Water-Inc-240x300Maurizio Patarnello, who spent almost three decades with Nestlé,  is now CEO at Flow Water Inc. He takes the lead as founder and CEO Nicholas Reichenbach moves into an executive chairman role.

Patarnello is being tapped to play a key role in scaling Flow to “meet its goal of becoming one of North America’s premier sustainable mineral spring water and wellness beverage companies,” according to a release.

Patarnello joined Nestlé in 1993. During his tenure he assumed various positions of increasing responsibility around the world, including throughout Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In 2017 he was appointed CEO and Chairman of Nestlé Waters, a role that he held through the end of 2019.

He has deep expense in the bottled water business, having significantly contributed to Nestlé Waters’ growth of brands such as Nestle Pure Life, Perrier, San Pellegrino, Acqua Panna and Poland Spring. He is also “a pioneer in the global consumer health movement from carbonated soft drinks to bottled water.”

READ: Nestle sells bottled water business

Patarnello’s appointment comes weeks after Flow Water announced it’s plans to go public in late spring.

“It is incredibly energizing to have someone of Maurizio’s stature and expertise join the Flow family, and his leadership will help us accelerate our growth, hone our strategy and execution, and scale our business in North America,” Reichenbach said in a release. “His experience in the premium bottled water space and his business acumen will be invaluable as we build Flow together into a leading North American mineral spring water and beverage brand. I’m proud to have led Flow from its inception to being a high-growth company that is now ready to go public and am so grateful be able to hand the reins to such a seasoned executive like Maurizio, while taking on a new active role as Executive Chairman.”

Flow Water is sourced from a family-owned spring in Ontario’s Bruce County, and is positioned as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional bottled water.

“I am thrilled to join the highly professional and dynamic executive team and lead Flow with Nicholas and the Board, as we stand on the precipice of an important evolution of the company and of water and beverage aisles across North America,” Patarnello said, adding: “Flow has tapped directly into the modern consumer’s desire for high quality sustainable water and functional beverage products and is poised to be a market leader in the space. Accelerating Flow’s growth will be our main goal in the coming years. I expect great things to come.”


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Nestlé sells bottled-water brands in North America for US$4.3 billion

Global food giant Nestlé is selling its bottled-water brands in North America for $4.3 billion to a pair of private-equity firms that hope to reinvigorate sales.

Brands including Poland Spring, Deer Park, Arrowhead, Ozarka, Zephyrhill and Pure Life will be sold to a subsidiary of One Rock Capital Partners and investment firm Metropoulos & Co. The deal, which is expected to close this spring, will create one of the largest beverage companies in the U.S.

Dean Metropoulos, who previously led turnarounds at Hostess Brands and Pabst Brewing Co., will be serve as chairman and interim CEO of the independent company that will house the brands acquired from Nestle.

Swiss-based Nestlé said it intends to sharpen its focus on its international premium water brands, including Perrier, S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, which were not part of the deal.

The new owners, meanwhile, hope to boost the bottled-water brands, which have seen slower sales growth in recent years.

U.S. bottled-water sales have grown every year since the 2009 recession, as health-conscious consumers have switched away from sugary soft drinks. Bottled water outsold soft drinks for the fourth year in a row in 2019, according to the International Bottled Water Association.

But that growth has been slowing amid criticism from environmental activists about waste from single-use plastic bottles. Consumers have also been switching to flavoured and sparkling waters, like LaCroix or Coca-Cola’s smartwater brand. Lower-cost store brand bottled waters have further cut into sales.

Nestle’s North American water business has 27 production facilities and more than 7,000 employees. It sources water from 38 active springs throughout the U.S.

That practice has come under increasing scrutiny from environmental groups. Last year, lawmakers in Washington state considered – but ultimately dropped – legislation that would ban companies from bottling ground water. And Democrats in Congress launched a probe of the industry, asking Nestle for data on water extraction and sales.

In Maine, home to Poland Spring, a water rights group is worried that the new owners will backtrack on agreements with local communities.

“This water connects to all of us and should be stewarded by the local communities who depend on them, not negotiated away behind closed doors, exploited and exported by corporations for privatized profit,” said Nickie Sekera of Community Water Justice.

Last year, Nestlé tried to sell its Canadian Pure Life brand to Canadian water bottling company Ice River Springs, but the deal did not meet the requirements of the Competition Bureau.

At the same time, a group of water advocates in the area called on Nestlé to return local wells to their municipalities rather than include them in a sale of the company’s North American properties. The advocates, known as the Wellington Water Watchers, said the Aberfoyle well should be given to the Six Nations of the Grand River, a water insecure community that claims ownership as part of the Haldimand Proclamation and the 1701 Nanfan Treaty.


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Nestlé Canada selling bottled water business to local family owned company

Nestlé Canada Inc. says it is selling its Pure Life bottled water business to Ice River Springs as Ontario prepares to give its municipalities veto power over new water bottling permits.

The sale for an undisclosed price is expected to close in the third quarter and is contingent on regulator approval. The sale includes two factories located in Puslinch, Ont., and Hope, B.C., along with a well in Erin, Ont.

Company president Jeff Hamilton says it began to explore the sale of its water business in late 2019 after deciding to focus on its international brands of San Pellegrino, Perrier and Acqua Panna.

Ice River, a Canadian family-owned bottled water producer, says the acquisition fulfils its ambition to expand beyond its private label business for retailers.

Ice River Springs runs a plastics recycling operation, BMP Recycling, that takes bottles and plastic food packaging collected by municipalities and produces food grade recycled PET plastic.

Canada’s most populous province recently announced new rules for taking groundwater, three years after the former Liberal government enacted a moratorium on new and expanded permits to take water for bottling.