“Partnering with Fresca Foods is like an answer to a prayer” because its “amazing innovation with managing quality distribution” and production will allow Wonderfully Raw to take full advantage of increasing consumer demand for organic, gluten-free and vegan snacks, said company founder Sequoia Cheney.
She explained that since Wonderfully Raw launched five years ago, it has experienced “explosive” growth of more than 100% year-over-year, but in order to sustain this growth and further accelerate its production and distribution without compromising quality or slowing innovation it needed a partner.
A track-record of success
Cheney said she was drawn to Fresca Foods in part because of its “amazing record and expertise.”
Indeed, more than 80% of Fresca’s brand partners have grown from niche to national brands in less than five years – a feat it has accomplished in part by partnering with only one to two brands per year out of the hundreds it researches, said Liz Myslik, CEO of Fresca Brands Innovation Group and EVP of brand management for Fresca.
She explained that Fresca restricts the number of firms that it works with at one time so that it can better dedicate the attention necessary to help brands grow quickly but without compromising their values or quality.
In addition, Fresca is a certified Safe Quality Food level 2 manufacturer, meaning it meets FDA’s food safety preventive controls, and soon will have more than 300,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space across its network. Access to these facilities will help Wonderfully Raw safely and sufficiently meet growing product demand, according to Cheney and Myslik.
The partnership also gives Wonderfully Raw more people power, including staff to oversee and coordinate manufacturing, distribution, sales and marketing. This will ease the burden on Wonderfully Raw’s existing staff, all of which with remain with the firm during the partnership.
For example, the extra staff, will give Cheney’s son, who is a trained and veteran chef, more freedom to create new products because he will no longer be burdened with managing operations, Myslik said. With this extra time, he expects to roll out several new snacks to accompany the company’s existing Coco-Roons, Snip-Chips, Brussel-Bytes, and Dipperz.
“We have really taken a very unique and unusual approach to partnering with brands as a manufacturer in that we have really taken on all the financial and resource requirements, not to mention the activities associated with the entire supply chain – so everything from R&D to sourcing and purchasing the materials … to handling all the manufacturing, packaging, warehousing of the finished foods and shipping them wherever they need to go all around the United States,” Myslik said.
She added: “By virtue of how we have done business, our brand partners have been able to really focus on just what they do best: selling and marketing their products and evangelizing their mission to the world, creating a virtuous cycle whereby the brands grow and thrive and we continue to create an even greater impact on the world together.”
More than a toolkit
While these tools were essential for Wonderfully Raw to ink the partnership with Fresca, Cheney added the “heart” of what really drew her to the accelerator is its commitment to its employees and the environment.
“What I love about Fresca is … that they say their employees are their biggest asset because I feel the same way,” Cheney said. “Our employees are the heart of our company and if the employees are happy and growing and experiencing a good life, then we are all happy.”
In addition, she appreciates Fresca’s dedication to preserving the environment by powering all its facilities with wind power, implementing extensive recycling programs and its commitment to become a zero-waste facility.
“Fresca and Wonderfully Raw see eye-to-eye on everything and that is why this partnership is so exciting for us,” Cheney added.
Meeting Fresca’s criteria
On the flip side, Fresca was drawn to Wonderfully Raw because of its consistent growth since it launched five years ago and its on-trend products that hold significantly more potential growth, Myslik said.
She explained that Wonderfully Raw’s snacks are “on trend” because they are permissible indulgences that fit into the modern consumer’s search for food that delivers high nutritional content, but still tastes like a treat.
When evaluating brands as potential partners, Fresca also looks for companies that have high-energy, passionate management teams that are interested in a strategic equity partner; highly differentiated branded foods that compete in large, growing food categories and are made from simple, natural ingredients; financial stability with gross margins greater than 25% with a clear path to 40% as well as revenue more than $2 million during the prior fiscal year with ongoing week-over-week sales growth per store.