Direct-to-consumer Spiceology closes $4.7m financing round to shake-up a 'very tired category'

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: Spiceology
Photo: Spiceology

Related tags spices seasonings Investment

Spiceology, Inc., a privately held, direct-to-consumer spice company, has closed a $4.7m round of financing led by retail and grocery executive Ty Bennett, with participation by the Cowles Company, Kickstart Funds III & IV, and angel investors to scale up processing operations and sales and marketing efforts.

Through its website and on Amazon, Spiceology​ sells over 250 spices, blends, herbs, chiles, salts, confections, fruit and vegetable powders, and “modernist ingredients”​ such as agar agar, activated charcoal, and arrowroot that are ground fresh and shipped directly to consumers (the average price per spice bottle is $12.99 with free shipping on orders over $39.99).  

"Spiceology's formula is focusing on quality and innovation at scale. By doing so, we're bringing life into a very tired category that's sorely in need of a fresh alternative,"​ said Chip Overstreet, president & CEO of Spiceology.

Spiceology will use the funds to bring process automation to its SpiceLab operations in Washington state where the company’s blends are formulated and packaged into Spiceology's trademarked "Periodic Table of Flavor​" packaging.

Lead investor, Ty Bennet, who was the founder and CEO of Jacent – a supplier and service provider of impulse merchandising solutions to grocery, mass, drug, and e-commerce retail channels which was acquired by private equity frim Gridiron in May 2019 – has joined the company’s Board of Directors to help lead its retail strategy.

With deeper focus on increasing production capacity, the company has also hired Roger Landrum to drive operations. Landrum was formerly the senior director of supply chain, risk management & procurement at Litehouse Foods. Prior to his role at Litehouse Foods, Landrum spent 12 years at Conagra Brands where he was a founding member of the company’s strategic sourcing department.

Looking forward to scaling the brand, Landrum commented, “Chefs and consumers have made it very clear that quality matters, and that they won't tolerate spices and blends with additives and fillers. Spiceology's commitments to 'grind fresh, ship fresh' and 'no funky stuff' are key to our strategy, our brand and our success.”

In quest for flavor, consumers embrace new spices and seasonings

The move to expand comes at an opportune for the company as many consumers are expanding their culinary horizons and use of ingredients by experimenting with new spices and seasonings.

Even before the pandemic hit and forced many households to spend more time in the kitchen, consumers’ interest in experimenting with different flavor profiles was already heating up, according to Kalsec’s 2019 Spicy Perceptions report​, which found that the number of consumers eating spicier foods doubled between 2017 and 2019.

Kalsec’s global research also revealed that consumers in the Americas said they were most interested in trying new spicy flavors including sriracha, black pepper, curry, horseradish, Szechuan, wasabi, berbere, sambal, harissa, and gochujang.

Instead of working with a team of food scientists, Spiceology’s point of differentiation is that the company collaborates on new products with professional chefs who are well versed in taste profiles and can make pairing and recipe recommendations to guide consumer’s at-home culinary exploration.

With the recent capital injection, Spiceology aims to build its brand presence to reach more consumers and chefs in the US and globally, added Overstreet.

Health -focused innovation in spices category

Partnering with the National Kidney Foundation, Spiceology launched a line of 13 salt-free spice blends last month to provide the 37 million people diagnosed with kidney disease and the roughly 80 million adults who are at risk for the disease with a flavor-forward spice option that was in line with their specific health needs.

"Until now, options in the salt-free spice category were pretty uninspiring and lacking in taste, and far too often, additives and fillers are used as a substitute for flavor,"​ claimed Chip Overstreet, president & CEO of Spiceology.

Spiceology labels phosphorus levels on its salt-free products, standing in line with the National Kidney Foundation’s ongoing pleas to include the mineral – as high levels can cause health complications for those with chronic kidney disease.

"For years we've been advocating for the Food and Drug Administration to require that phosphorus levels be included on food packaging, and imploring food manufacturers to do so voluntarily, both for their own benefit and for the benefit of our patients,"​ said Kevin Longino, CEO, National Kidney Foundation.

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