The cash injection follows an undisclosed investment from Leonardo DiCaprio and Strand Equity Partners earlier this year, and will help HIPPEAS reach its goal of tripling its revenues in 2018 vs 2017.
The organic certified brand, which was launched a year ago, is already available in thousands of stores on both sides of the Atlantic, from Starbucks, Whole Foods, Wegmans, Kroger, Albertsons and Safeway, to Boots, Waitrose, Tesco, and Sainsbury's, plus online platforms including Amazon.com and Thrive Market.
Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA in late August, HIPPEAS founder Livio Bisterzo said: “It’s been a frankly incredible few months, we're going to do almost a million this month and I think September will be our first million-dollar month. We think we can achieve $25-30m next year."
He added: “We’ve done more than 1,000 demos this year, and we’ve got a 39% conversion ratio, so almost every other consumer that tries it, buys it. We’ve got more followers on social media than brands that have been around for years, and we have a 3x, 4x engagement ratio every time we post, so it’s very exciting. We’ve got a brand that really connects with consumers.”
One of the three trailblazers at FoodNavigator-USA’s FOOD VISION USA event in 2016 (pictured left), Hippeas has teamed up with charity Farm Africa to strike a deal whereby for each pack sold, Hippeas will donate a portion of sales to support farmers in eastern Africa.
While the bright yellow packaging has been integral to the explosive success of HIPPEAS - which Bisterzo has always seen as a mainstream brand that just happens to be a bit healthier than competing extruded snacks – the team recently made some minor changes to incorporate feedback from customers and end consumers, he said.
“We’ve added color blocking at the bottom of the packs to show the different flavors and we added a picture of the puffs [so consumers know what’s inside]. We’re also transitioning our single-serve packs from 1oz to 1.5oz and next year we’re launching an almost 8oz bag for Target and an 18oz pack for Costco, plus six-bag multipacks that will launch first at Whole Foods. We’ve also improved three of our flavors.”
While HIPPEAS has sold millions of single serve bags in Starbucks, the larger 4oz bags are now the principle growth engine at HIPPEAS , which is also doing a significant amount of business via Amazon, said Bisterzo.
“I think next year we could probably do $5m on Amazon, which is pretty amazing, so we’re building our own dot.com [online shopping platform] now.
Hippeas gluten-free organic puffs– which are manufactured by co-packers in the US and in Ireland – require specialized extrusion equipment and are crunchier than extruded corn snacks, with an appealing nutritional profile (3g fiber, 4g protein and 130 calories per 28g/1oz serving).