The U.K.-based vegetarian frozen food company Strong Roots has picked up $18.3 million in funding from the private equity firm Goode Partners as it looks to expand its U.S. presence and build out its technological capabilities.
Advised by global mid-market investment bank Alantra, Strong Roots has a presence in the U.S. in retailers, including Target, Wegmans and Whole Foods, and in the U.K. at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer.
Neither a direct to consumer company nor a novel technology developer, Strong Roots is hoping to use the new financing to expand its research and development efforts to provide more functional foods and nutrients, according to chief executive officer Samuel Dennigan.
The company is on track to move $50 million worth of frozen vegan food items in the calendar year, and it expects its sales to more than quadruple over the next four years.
The company’s exceptional growth comes at a time when consumers globally are looking for healthy options. Strong Roots offers a range of tasty plant-based food designed for busy lives. Found in your freezer aisle, the award-winning line includes premium root vegetables, veggie burgers and freezer favorites like Cauliflower Hash Browns.
The company has found a strong partner in Goode Partners, whose previous investments include AllSaints and La Colombe.
Dennigan’s career in agribusiness stretches back 15 years, but his family has long been in the food production and distribution business.
“I started working with some international brands in the late nineties and saw how CPG companies were doing things in a poor way,” says Dennigan. At first the company thought it would go after fresh foods, but saw more opportunity in the frozen food aisle.
Strong Roots began selling its frozen foods in 2015 just as the vegan and health food craze began to surge.
While the company has spent the past four years building up a brand as a vegan alternative in frozen foods, Dennigan is now ready to expand into other categories. “The pieces of IP that are going to be developed and placed in market in the next 12 months especially around the fortification of the products,” he says. “What our research is showing us is that there’s a huge opportunity between extruded and food and what we’re doing.”
Dennigan is, of course, referring to companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, which have built protein replacement businesses over the past 10 years and have surged into consumer consciousness with big deals at fast food chains (and no small amount of kerfuffles).
The success of those two companies has set up a feeding frenzy among investors who are voraciously scarfing up vegetarian food companies to add to their portfolios.