“We have some really exciting investors who are going to be strategic partners,” and help us as we continue to innovate and expand our reach in retail, food service and through unique partnerships that will help raise consumer awareness of the brand, Lindsey Cunningham, co-founder of Rollin Greens told FoodNavigator-USA.
While Cunningham didn’t share who her investors are, she said they support Rollin Greens' mission to create healthy foods in the freezer aisle that not only are better for people but also better for the planet by using sustainable ingredients, such as the millet in the company’s flagship Millet Tots and cauliflower, which stars in two upcoming product launches.
Cauliflower takes center stage
Hitting select store shelves now are a trio of frozen Crispy Cauliflower Wings made from tempura-dipped cauliflower florets that are drenched in three sauces inspired by the brand’s days as a food truck, Cunningham said.
The first is a spicy green buffalo sauce that uses spinach for a “spin on the a classic spicy buffalo sauce,” the second is a sweet mustard that combines a hint of brown sugar with garlic and sea salt, and the last is a teriyaki inspired by the company’s chef’s sensei, who blends ginger juice, toasted sesame oil and tamari, Cunningham said.
“We are already seeing explosive growth” from the wings, which are out-selling the brand’s flagship millet tots, in part because they tap into so many growing trends, Cunningham said.
She explained the wings are getting a boost in part from the growing popularity of plant-based meat alternatives, which is where the product is currently being stocked at retail.
However, unlike some of the products in this category, the wings are “not science-based. It is not created or tested in a lab. Rather, it is made of real ingredients that are whole foods,” which also allows the brand to tap into consumers’ interest in ‘clean label’ products, she said.
The wings also are tapping into the “craze of cauliflower in general,” Cunningham said.
“Cauliflower is so popular right now, in part because it is lower in carbohydrates, it is a nutrient dense vegetable that is high in antioxidants, vitamins B, C, K and fiber and also it can be a sponge … so you can create any flavor you want form it,” she said. “So, we are able to get really creative with it.”
Indeed, the brand plans to launch later this fall another line of frozen snacks that will prominently feature the vegetable: Its Crispy & Creamy Poppers.
Like the wings, the trio of new poppers are vegan and gluten free, and also are inspired by a snack previously sold out of the company’s food tuck. They use cauliflower as the base for vegan alternative to cream cheese that Rollin Greens then blends with other key ingredients inside of a hemp wrapper to create three distinct flavor profiles, including margherita pizza, bean & cheddare, and creamy jalapeno.
“The most exciting part about this is there are no nuts. A lot of vegan cheeses on the market that contain nuts, but we are an allergen-friendly company, so I am excited to offer a nut-free option,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham said the Rollin Greens also used cauliflower – and hemp – because like the millet in its flagship Millet Tots, the ingredients are sustainable, which is a core value for the company.
Beyond these products, Cunningham said the company has about 30 items that it wants to debut over the next two years, which she recognizes is “pretty ambitious,” but they will take the brand out of just the freezer aisle and into new shelf stable and refrigerated categories.
The company plans to support the new launches with a mix of digital and social marketing as well as supporting retail stores, Cunningham said. She also noted that the company recently overhauled its website to better feature the products and tell the company’s story to raise consumer awareness.
She said she also is excited about the idea of creating a “showroom” for the products that will be a “kind of experiential marketing play” for consumers and buyers.
Building a team for the future
To help manage these and future launches, Rollin Greens will spend part of the capital on expanding its team, Cunningham said.
“We are really excited to begin building out our team. We hired a sales team, we are looking for operations procurement and a chief operating officer, and down the line we want to add food service sales as well,” she said. “But for right now, we are focusing on the operations logistics.”
Looking forward, Cunningham said she is excited about the future for the brand, but notes it may need to raise more money. But based on the success of this round and who came to the table, she is optimistic that the company will be able to do that and continue to build on its current momentum.