Good Culture, which recently expanded its portfolio into sour cream squeeze pouches with probiotics and a lactose-free version of its core cottage cheese line, has experienced year-over-over double-digit growth for the past few years, growing 54.6% in dollar sales in MULO channels in the latest 52 weeks, according to IRI sales data.
"Today, we’re doing $60m in retail sales in the trailing 52 weeks and expect continued high double-digit year-over-year growth, which is what we’ve seen over the past couple of years," Merrill told FoodNavigator-USA.
The brand's dollar velocities are up +72% for the latest 52 weeks signifying that the majority of its growth is coming from pure consumer demand for the products rather than distribution gains, he added.
Already a success in the natural channel where Good Culture holds a 50% share of the cottage cheese set at Whole Foods, Merrill added that the brand continues to unlock significant growth in more mainstream outlets.
"We’ve shown that we can really play and win MULO accounts. We are the #1 and fastest-growing cottage cheese brand in Target. In Kroger we're the second largest and fastest-growing cottage cheese brand," said Merrill.
"What’s exciting is we’re attracting a lot of new users to the category. Nationally, we’re the No. 1 contributor to category growth making up 21% of the total growth dollars, and 56% of our shoppers are coming from new behavior stages that weren’t shopping the category before," he added.
The company, like many other food brands, has also seen "staggering growth" in its e-commerce business, according to Merrill.
"We're up +730% across all e-commerce channels vs. 2019, which really wasn't a focus initially because refrigerated can be quite challenging when you're dealing with e-commerce," he said.
New product Innovation
New to the Good Culture lineup, which will be rolling out nationwide in this month, are its squeezable sour cream pouches in whole milk and lactose-free variations.
"From a pure product standpoint, we’ve created a proprietary recipe that is thicker than the competition and that is much more flavorful than the competition. We think from a taste experience, we over deliver significantly. We also have probiotics in our product which is unique for the category," noted Merrill.
Healing fermented foods platform
Merrill, who launched Good Culture after his personal experience of healing his own chronic inflammatory gut disease by eating a diet rich in fermented dairy foods, said he can start to see that the brand is resonating with consumers in a more fundamental way.
"Consumers are elevating our brand above the category. We are not just a cottage cheese or sour cream company, we are a super relevant mission-driven nutrient-dense healing cultured foods company," he said.
Driving this demand for fermented dairy foods (yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, etc.) has been a growing consumer interest and slowly building knowledge of how certain foods can positively impact gut health, claimed Merrill, who cited a recent study from Stanford School of Medicine which found that participants who ate a diet rich in fermented foods for 10 consecutive weeks increased their gut microbiome diversity.
"That just reinforces and validates what we've been saying for years, and that type of research continues to motivate and propel our fermented cultured foods platform ambitions," he said.
Broader food system change
Also central to Good Culture's mission is transforming the broader food system by expanding access to pasture-raised milk supply, noted Merrill.
"As we got bigger and began to scale and brought on larger food manufacturing plants, it became clear that that [pasture-raised] milk supply just didn’t exist. We knew in that moment, we had to do something to create broader food system change," said Merrill.
Good Culture partnered with the DFA (Dairy Farmers of America) in February 2021 on the Path to Pasture program to transition conventional dairy farms to meet regenerative agriculture practices and ensure all dairy cows have pasture to graze.