Tattooed Chef expands presence in frozen foods aisle, moves into chilled and refrigerated foods

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Photo Credit: Tattooed Chef
Photo Credit: Tattooed Chef

Related tags: Frozen food

Growing plant-based frozen food brand Tattooed Chef is “firing on all cylinders,” said president and CEO Sam Galletti, as the company exceeds its distribution goal of 10,000 stores and surpasses $50m in revenue in Q2.

Originally founded in 2009 as Ittella Parent – an importer of Italian vegetable products – the company transitioned into the private label food category and began producing frozen products in 2015.

Around the same time, Sarah Galletti, the inspiration behind the brand name “Tattooed Chef”​ and creative director of the brand, led the company’s transition from a producer of private label frozen vegetables to a branded, frozen plant-based meals and snacks company.

Tattooed Chef went public via a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) deal between Forum Merger II and Ittella International in October 2020 and began publicly trading on the NASDAQ in November 2020.

Less than a year since then, the company reported a 45.9% increase in revenue to $50.7m in Q2 2021 compared to the previous year. Revenue for the Tattooed Chef branded product line increased by 62.3% to $33.1m in Q2 2021 compared to $20.4m in the prior year period, reported the company.

In terms of distribution, the company has grown its footprint from 4,300 stores at the end of 2020 to 8,355 stores by the end of Q2 2021 and is on track to hit over 12,000 stores by next quarter.

Top-selling frozen vegetable SKUs

During the Q2 earnings call, Sam Galletti said the brand is uniquely differentiated from the rest of the frozen foods set due to its focus on plant-based creations that serve all day-part occasions including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

“We are revolutionizing the way people think about plant-based eating by thoughtfully creating foods that feel good. The Tattooed Chef brand is chef-created for every lifestyle at an accessible price point.

"The Tattooed Chef brand is for everyone, and we attract consumers of all ages and demographics,”​ he said, adding that its strong sales velocities demonstrate that the brand’s portfolio – whose signature products include ready-to-cook bowls, zucchini spirals, riced cauliflower, açai and smoothie bowls, and cauliflower pizza crusts –  is resonating with both consumers and retailers.

“We are proud to announce that in less than one year, we have two SKUs among the top 10 veggie entrées ranked by velocity according to the MULO HWI,”​ he said noting that in one specific mass retailer for the latest four weeks through July 11th, as measured by SPIN, Tattooed Chef has been #1 and #2 selling SKU in the Frozen Vegetable entrée meals category in total dollar sales.

“We have set an internal goal of achieving 30 frozen SKUs per store across retail and are confident that we have the portfolio to execute that. We expect our incredible double-digit total company growth to continue, driven by our branded products in the back half of the year.”

Expansion into refrigerated and ambient products

Sarah Galletti said, “We are still in the early innings of growth as we prepare to expand Tattooed Chef beyond the frozen aisle and into refrigerated and ambient products later this year or early next year.”

In May 2021, Tattooed Chef completed its acquisition​ of New Mexico Food Distributors Inc. and Karsten Tortilla Factory, LLC (collectively referred to as Foods of New Mexico) for $37m. The deal marked the company’s entry in the frozen $1bn Mexican food sub-category.

“We believe Foods of New Mexico can contribute up to $200m in revenue annually​,” noted Sam Galletti, who also highlighted that the acquisition will accelerate the company’s entry into other areas of the grocery, including refrigerated and ambient.

“We will also be launching our first-ever refrigerated ambient products early next year, going after the $20bn Hispanic Southwest food category, with alternative tortillas, burritos, enchiladas, and other creations,”​ he added.

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