Laird Superfood seals $32m funding led by tech firm WeWork: 'We intend to have products in every aisle of the grocery store,' says CEO

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Laird Superfood seals $32m funding round led by tech firm WeWork

Related tags: coffee creamer, Non-Dairy

Laird Superfood, maker of fortified non-dairy coffee creamers containing a full range of MCTs, has closed $32m in a private funding round led by co-working tech company WeWork, which the company intends to use for product development and to make small acquisitions of like-minded health food brands.

Prior to the $32m funding private funding round, friends and family had invested roughly $11m in Laird Superfood, according Laird Superfood​ co-founder and CEO Paul Hodge. 

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA, Hodge said the company is working towards the same level of brand recognition as Newman's Own, Annie's, and Amy's. 

"We don’t view ourselves as a one product company. Our strategy is to build a brand based around Laird that you may be able to compare to Newman’s Own, Annie’s, and Amy’s, where you have in essence an individual behind the brand that’s truly authentic,"​ Hodge said.

"Within five years, we intend to have products in every aisle of the grocery store."

According to Hodge, the company will achieve becoming a beacon brand for the natural foods space through product development and innovation as well as through acquisition.

"We’ve got a long, long list of products in development right now that span all sorts of categories. We are also going to start doing some small acquisitions of small food startup companies," ​he said.

Often times, these capital-starved food startups may be too small for a venture capital investor or not interested in being part of a big food company, which is where Laird Superfood comes in, explained Hodge. 

"We offer another solution where we can acquire this company, bring them in, and keep the values that interested them in the first place."

In conjunction with the investment from WeWork​, Arik Benzino, WeWork's 'chief we officer' for the US, Canada, and Israel, will join the Laird Superfood board of directors.

Laird Superfood and WeWork will also launch a partnership to make Laird's products available to WeWork members and employees in select co-working office locations in the US.

Targeting the 'corporate warrior'

Founded in 2015 by big-wave surfer and fitness guru Laird Hamilton, the natural audience for Laird Superfood were dedicated athletes but also extends to anyone looking to power through their day with clean ingredient products, Hodge said.

As Hodge previously told our sister publication NutraIngredients-USA​, its coffee creamer serves as the ideal middle ground between hardcore fitness consumers and the average consumer interested in health and wellness.

“We knew that you can’t just make a product that’s full-blown over the top, and expect people to adapt it into their diets,” ​Hodge told NutraIngredients-USA. “We call it ‘meeting people in the middle.’”​​

Part of that middle ground is capturing the 'corporate warrior', which also happens to be much of WeWork's clientele.

"These are in essence customers of WeWork, these are guys that have to go in and work all day and perform at their job (​typically behind a desk for hours at a time),"​ Hodge told FoodNavigator-USA.

"Our whole message to the corporate warrior, is: 'Hey treat yourself like an athlete',"​ Hodge said.

"Our products are based on sustained energy and hydration. Those are two things you really need to charge through the day and I think that’s what we provide."

The company’s core line of non-dairy superfood creamers, available in five varieties (original, chocolate mint, turmeric, unsweetened, and cacao) are made with coconut milk powder, organic coconut sugar, the marine mineral complex Aquamin, and organic extra virgin coconut oil.

The functional twist ( marine mineral complex Aquamin​and essential fats from organic coconut oil) Laird Superfood developed for its coffee creamers helped propel it outside the niche, fitness enthusiast crowd, according to Hodge.

What's special about Aquamin?

The multi-mineral complex Aquamin is derived from the red marine algae, Lithothamnion calcareum​. According to Laird Superfood, the algae's rigid 'honeycomb' cell walls absorbs 72 trace minerals including calcium and magnesium from the sea. 

redalgae
©GettyImages/_548901005677

Published research​ studied Aquamin's ability to improve bone strength and density as well as its anti-inflammatory effects on joint health. 

Laird Superfood has also extended into ROCKET FUEL coffee (whole bean coffee with 2X the caffeine content of a typical cup of coffee), an organic blend of ‘performance mushrooms’ (Chaga, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, & Maitake), and a 'Hydration' line featuring freeze dried coconut water and Aquamin in a powdered format.

Potential growth of non-dairy functional coffee creamer category

Laird Superfood is playing in the growing non-dairy coffee creamer category that according to ReportsnReports, is projected to register a 2.7% CAGR in terms of revenue, reaching $6.18bn by 2023, up from $5.26bn in 2017.

Consumer interest in functional coffee is also heating up driven by the rise of fortified coffees boasting ‘clean energy’ and fat-powered fuel catering to various health communities including keto. According to Mintel, coffee consumers want more health benefits from their morning and afternoon cup of coffee, with 47% looking for products that include antioxidants, promote brain health (40%), and are anti-inflammatory (35%).

More people are also ditching the dairy in their coffee, as nearly one-third of consumers are adding non-dairy alternatives to their coffee in place of cow’s milk and cream, Mintel found. 

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