The move will give Berkeley-based Once Upon a Farm – best known for its refrigerated HPP* pouches - a foothold in the frozen category, “where there is significant opportunity for baby and kid innovation,” and will “increase our scale and capabilities in direct-to-consumer, which is an important part of our growth strategy,” said co-founder and CEO John Foraker.
“We’ve watched and admired Raised Real’s approach and products for over three years, and think they are a perfect fit for our portfolio.”
The tie up will in turn help San Francisco-based Raised Real accelerate its ambitions in bricks & mortar retail, a channel it entered earlier this year with the launch of frozen meals and breakfast items at Target, said Raised Real CEO Santiago Merea, who founded the business in 2016, attracted investment from frozen food giant Schwan’s a year later, and has since built a loyal following for his pre-portioned, flash-frozen meals in finger food form.
"John Foraker and his team at Once Upon a Farm are perfect to accelerate our aspirations at retail and help us bring to life our ambitious vision. Our products, combined, create a leading plant-rich portfolio platform for kids of all ages across fresh and frozen, online and offline.”
Raised Real's new retail line will transition to Once Upon a Farm branding
The Raised Real frozen meals and breakfast items for retail - currently available at Target - "will be transitioning to Once Upon a Farm branding," Foraker told FoodNavigator-USA.
As to what the deal would mean for customers currently shopping for either brand online, he said: "As for e-commerce, we’re working through all of the details to make this experience as seamless as possible for our consumers. We are working through all of these details now and will be sharing more with our consumers later this fall."
Asked whether the company would continue working with Schwan's on supply chain and logistics, he said, "Yes."
'We’ve watched and admired Raised Real’s approach and products for over three years'
Founded by Cassandra Curtis and Ari Raz in 2015, Once Upon a Farm sells organic baby, toddler, and kids’ foods in HPP-treated pouches sold next to kids’ yogurts in the dairy case, in some retailers' emerging fresh snacking sets, in standalone fridges in the baby food aisle, and direct to consumer via an online subscription business.
When actress Jennifer Garner and former Annie’s president John Foraker joined in 2017, the business was “doing less than a million dollars,” said Foraker. In 2020, revenues were north of $30m, and while there have been bumps along the road, the brand - sold in 10,000 doors and growing fast online – “is accelerating like crazy,” Foraker told FoodNavigator-USA in March.
“When we joined, we really thought this was a baby food brand," he told us. "But the learning we’ve had over the last 18, 24 months, was that the consumers eating most of our products were kids aged one to eight; we really weren’t a baby brand; we were a kid brand. So we’ve started talking more about ourselves that way, and the business really started to accelerate.”
He added: “Much of the growth in baby food is coming from direct to consumer, which is a channel we’re been investing in heavily to get the underlying infrastructure to support that business.”
*High pressure processing (HPP) – whereby foods or beverages are put into a high-pressure chamber that is flooded with cold water and pressurized (thus the ‘cold-pressured’ moniker) in order to kill pathogens without heat - enables Once Upon a Farm to produce baby food that tastes exactly like the stuff you’d make at home, with no preservatives, colors or flavors and a shelf-life long enough to secure national distribution, claims the company.