Cash from the sale will be spent on building the team, developing new products, marketing, and increasing distribution for the brand, which burst onto the scene in 2011 with its signature spicy avocado hummus, and went on to pioneer the use of high pressure processing (HPP) in the hummus category, creating preservative-free products with the taste and texture of home-made hummus.
The cash injection will also help to support the roll out of a new black garlic hummus and a new line of HPP guacamole (in mild green chile, spicy green chile, and spicy mango flavors), which is a big growth opportunity right now given the enthusiasm for all things avocado-related, president Robbie Rech told FoodNavigator-USA.
“Pre-packaged HPP guacamole is one of the overall growth drivers in the refrigerated dips and spreads category. We started shipping the HPP guacamole in late 2016 and it’s a big growth opportunity for us, although it’s been a unique year in terms of pricing.”
While avocado prices have spiked this year owing to a lower than expected crop in Mexico, continued surging demand from the North American market, and the emergence of new buyers from Asia, Hope Foods has, however, managed to maintain supplies and meet its commitments thus far, he said.
Not everything Hope Foods has touched has turned to CPG gold – its lentil superfood dips did not set the world on fire, he concedes – but it continues to outpace rivals and grow in a maturing market thanks to bold branding, innovative products and flavors, and a commitment to organic ingredients, he claimed.
High pressure processing (HPP) – whereby foods or beverages are put into a high-pressure chamber that is flooded with cold water and pressurized (thus the ‘cold-pressured’ moniker) in order to kill pathogens without heat - enables Hope Foods to produce hummus and guacamole that tastes exactly like the stuff you’d make at home, with no preservatives, added flavors, or gums, and a shelf-life long enough (90 days) to secure national distribution.
Launched in 2011, the Hope brand is in around 4,000 stores today, with the strongest representation in the middle of the country and the West Coast, but it also sees big untapped growth opportunities in the South East and on the East Coast.
“We’re outpacing the category," said Rech.
"But what’s really exciting is that when we go into a grocery story for the first time, up to 25% of the people buying Hope are new to the hummus category. They are seeing something that they like the look of – for example spicy avocado hummus – and they are saying I am willing to give that a try, so we’re bringing incremental growth to the category.
“We’re bringing more households into the category and I think the spicy avocado hummus is an entry point for people that love avocado and are not sure if they like hummus.”
Hope Foods has always stayed ahead of the curve with innovative hummus flavors from Thai coconut curry and jalapeno cilantro, to chocolate hummus offering a healthier alternative to chocolate spreads made with nuts, sugar and palm or vegetable oil, says president Robbie Rech.
“The chocolate hummus is a niche product, and it’s amazing. The challenge is getting people to try it. If you do demos and people taste it, they love it, but just putting it out on the shelf and getting people to give it a try is a challenge.”
Single serve products, which are ideal for coffee shops and the foodservice market, are also a growing opportunity for Hope Foods, which has tied up with Taylor Farms to offer hummus and veggies snack packs at Starbucks stores on the West Coast, says Rech.