The Series B funding round was led by private equity firm River Hollow Partners, while Powerful (which had previously raised around $3.5m from CircleUp among others) has also secured ABL (asset based lending) financing through a partnership with Gerber Finance.
“The funds will primarily support working capital growth, we’ve got a growing list of customers that need to be serviced properly and we want to be well set up from a production standpoint for major expansion we have coming,"chief commercial officer Sarah Goldthwait told FoodNavigator-USA.
"Above that we’ll invest in broader marketing campaigns to drive brand awareness, and new product lines launching in 2018.”
Smoothie in a pouch set for Jan 2018 launch
The first – launching in January – is a refrigerated Greek-yogurt-based high protein smoothie (MSRP $2.19) with added milk protein concentrate in a pouch with a re-sealable cap targeting consumers looking for a nutritious, satiating grab & go snack.
The second is being kept strictly under wraps for the time being, said Goldthwait, who said the Powerful brand resonated with a wide variety of consumers looking for protein-rich foods and beverages with a clean label.
“When we launched with Powerful Yogurt in 2013, we focused on men, but almost immediately we could see that our products appealed to both men and women, and women now account for about 60% of our consumer base. We could also see that protein was moving beyond sports and fitness to the mainstream, so we quickly moved to be an active lifestyle brand, extending into high protein yogurt drinks in 2015 and high protein oatmeal in 2016.
“The oatmeal has a lot of potential, but the drinks – which have a broader distribution than the yogurts now – have the strongest growth trajectory. The yogurts – which were our first product line - are still growing, though, and we’ve recently converted the line to be made with whole milk and to be no sugar added to meet current customer needs, whereas when we launched, we had a fat-free product with some sugar added.”
“We partnered with Powerful because it is uniquely poised for success. Not only have they truly been an industry disruptor with innovative products, but they have a seasoned and passionate management team with an extremely clear brand mission and vision.
"You typically see new companies come in and try to create their own niche specialty, but what Powerful has done really makes a significant impact through disruption in an already successful category, and that is something l saw as very compelling as a private equity partner.”
Charlie Baynes-Reid, co-founder, River Hollow Partners
Protein bars less successful
Powerful Yogurt protein bars, which were launched in 2014, but withdrawn 18 months later, were not as successful as other products in the line-up, in part because the Powerful brand is “all about high protein, delicious, made with natural ingredients, and in the bars space we felt like that need was being better met [by existing players] than it was in other categories where we felt we could be more disruptive,” said Goldthwait.
Moving forward, Powerful is also exploring further moves beyond the dairy case and experimenting with a wide range of dairy and plant-based proteins, added Goldthwait, who said the ‘sweet spot’ for protein was “anywhere between 10-20g, depending on the product. In our consumer panels, 20g was an attractive amount in yogurt, but for some other product lines we’ve looked at, anything 10g and above was fine.”
As regards protein types the company may utilize in the future, she said: “We’re protein agnostic and we’ve been playing with various proteins in the test kitchen.”
Founded in 2013 by Carlos Ramirez, Miami-based Powerful launched with high protein Greek yogurts in distinctive black packaging before launching the Powerful Yogurt Drink in 2015 and Powerful Oatmeal in 2016. Powerful products are now available at 10,000 stores, including Walmart, Target, Stop n’ Shop, Shoprite, and Giant.