The company also will use the cash injection to build its core business which includes new hires to its team based in Boulder, Colo., increasing manufacturing capacity, and further growing its retail footprint.
The latest funding round was co-led by the new SEMCAP Food & Nutrition division, and joined by co-investors Swander Pace Capital and SEMCAP’s Partner, Fresh Del Monte. Purely Elizabeth is the first investment SEMCAP Food & Nutrition investment arm, which was drawn to the brand's and its ambitious founder Elizabeth Stein.
"Healthy eating and healthy behaviors for a lot of people are things they feel that they have to do, and I think what Elizabeth has done in how she’s positioned her business, it’s an invitation and not a chore," SEMCAP managing partner John Haugen told FoodNavigator-USA.
"We’re excited about the core business and to increase distribution in core channels," said Haugen, who added that its job as an investment partner is to provide the capital necessary to propel the brand to the next level and "largely stay out of the way."
Growth opportunities ahead: 'There's an opportunity to double distribution'
While far from an emerging brand at this point with 12 years of brand building under its belt and distribution footprint of more than 15,000 retailers, Stein and Haugen both believe there are still untapped market opportunities for the company.
"The brand has grown at a CAGR of over 50% for the past six years in a row. The reason why retailers are excited about stocking Purely Elizabeth products is that every time the brand is on the shelf, it’s truly incremental to the category," Haugen added.
"As much as the brand has grown, there’s an opportunity to double distribution. We think that the brand is a canvas for expanding into other areas."
Maintaining a point of differentiation in a category as established is difficult, but Stein said that its commitment to better-for-you, clean ingredients and "incredible taste" has attracted a loyal following, said Stein.
While it may have been a gamble to use ingredients such as chia seeds and coconut sugar more than a decade ago, Stein said the brand is at a place where consumers have finally caught up to its better-for-you differentiation, which has pushed the brand's continuous flow of new innovation, said Stein.
"We’re continuously innovating within the granola category to bring more of what the consumer is looking for. Ultimately, I think that better-for-you sweetener is the most common need and want, so coconut sugar really plays that role," she added.
Sourced from the coconut palm tree, coconut sugar retains some essential nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and B vitamins while maintaining a lower glycemic index than cane sugar (50-54 GI vs. 60 GI rating).
Purely Elizabeth granola products also feature ancient grains (amaranth and quinoa) and other superfood ingredients such as chia seeds giving it an added nutritional boost.
However, Purely Elizabeth is not a one-note brand as the company (which actually got its start in baking mixes that it still sells today) is also focused on growing it better-for-you oatmeal business and will be unveiling a new category entry later this year along with an entire brand refresh, added Stein.
"Our north star is continuing to help people thrive on their wellness journey by investing in new product innovation. We will be revealing a new product launch category later this year, and in the next month we will be further developing our product portfolio," she said.