While all three finalists – Farmwise, Once Upon a Farm, and Bare Bones Bone Broth – have the potential to make a big splash in the food industry, veggie fries clinched the deal on Thursday evening after Farmwise co-founder and CEO Dave Peters wowed the judging panel with his novel product, track record of success in conventional as well as natural stores, and scalability story.
The three finalists were:
Bare Bones Broth Co: Led by husband and wife team Ryan and Katherine Harvey, Oregon-based Bare Bones Broth Co was established in 2013 and is now generating substantial revenues online with its bone broth in BPA-free microwaveable pouches using grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken.
The broths are simmered for 24-48 hours, then strained and cooled prior to being packaged and frozen for shipment.
The product, which has a 60-day shelf-life and no preservatives, is shipped frozen, but can be sold by retailers in the frozen or refrigerated aisles, said Katherine Harvey, who is looking to close a seed round of $1-2m to fund the next phase of the company’s development.
Once Upon a Farm: High-pressure-processing (HPP) will play a disruptive role in the babyfood market in the next five years, predict the founders of Once Upon a Farm, an organic babyfood brand in a HPP-treated pouch that is merchandised next to squeezy yogurts in the dairy case or in standalone fridges in the babyfood aisle.
The brainchild of San Diego-based entrepreneurs Cassandra Curtis and Ari Raz – both of whom had set up babyfood businesses of their own before joining forces in early 2015 – the brand could be in 1,000 stores by the end of the year, Raz told the panel.
Retailers, meanwhile, love the products because they are genuinely new and different, offer good margins, and have demonstrated strong velocity, he claimed.
But what’s so special about HPP-treated babyfood in the first place? The taste, the texture, the color, the aroma, and the nutrition, claimed Curtis, who said parents aren’t happy with the “watery, sugary, mushy products in jars and pouches that have in many cases been heated twice [first the purees, then the final product].”
As for formulations, Once Upon a Farm is free of concentrates, preservatives and processed purees, but is also unusual in that most options include a source of healthy fat (chia seeds, hemp seeds, avocado, extra virgin unrefined coconut oil), added Curtis.
Farmwise (Veggie Fries): Farmwise’s frozen veggie fries contain 30% veggies and beans, and 70% potatoes, and have been flying off the shelves in natural and conventional retail channels, said Boston-based founder and CEO Dave Peters, who is predicting revenues of $4m in 2016 vs $1.6m in 2015.
Ultimately, he told the panel, veggie fries – which currently have no direct competition and are made using a proprietary, patent-pending process - could generate revenues of $100m:
“We saw all these veggie chips in the salty snacks aisle but nothing in the frozen aisle, We also saw that a lot of them were just dehydrated potatoes with 2% veggie powder and thought we could do a lot better.
“Ours are using a blend of real fresh veggies, beans and potato chopped and blended together with herbs, spices, and sea salt.
"They’re crispy, fluffy and offer real veggie nutrition. What’s really exciting is that we’re bringing new consumers to the frozen fries category and we’re doing well in natural and conventional channels.”
The next step is to develop organic versions of the products, said Peters, who fries the products in expeller-pressed non-GMO canola oil.
The judging panel comprised:
- Thomas Aarts, md, Nutrition Capital Network
- Scott Anderson, CEO, Alliance Sales and Marketing
- Jennifer Love, CEO, Entrepreneurist
- Ben Mand, SVP Brand Marketing & Innovation, Plum Organics
- Eric Schnell, founder, Beyond Brands
- Pete Speranza, business development principal, 301 Inc (General Mills)
- Wayne Wu, partner, VMG Partners