The details of the acquisition include:
- Master supplier agreements with Sodexo and Aramark, two of the largest managed foodservice operators in the United States,
- Licenses for eight cafés with ongoing operations at major colleges and universities,
- Finished goods inventory valued at more than $600,000, and
- A food product with significant café industry applications.
Of the university cafés, Stamberger explained, the organization’s presence intends to “communicate interactively with a key audience, Gen Z college students, on the sustainability benefits of Planting Hope’s products through the café environments and marketing materials.” Specifically, she added, they will highlight Hope and Sesame sesame milk, “an upcycled-certified by the Upcycled Food Association,” in cafes this fall.
She continued, “Sesame milk has the lowest water footprint of any of the plant milk subcategories, as the sesame crop requires very little water to cultivate and the core ingredient in sesame milk is the byproduct of pressing sesame seeds to extract oil – no water required in that process (unlike the enzymatic processing of oats required for most commercialized oat milks).”
The focus on Gen Z is particularly notable as 52% of Gen Z vegans reported they chose a vegan diet for its health benefits; while 51% said the biggest challenge to starting a vegan diet was understanding the health benefits; and a whopping 80% of non-vegans said they do not intend to transition to a vegan diet within the next five years—highlighting a significant opportunity for brands to establish an authentic communication strategy rooted in health and science-based food education.
Packaging and LTO testing will also be key areas of focus from the acquisition, as Argo Tea’s cafes already have bag-in-box tea concentrates in place and the kick off of Hope and Sesame Barista Blend Sesamemilk’s Toasted Black Sesame Latte.
Planting Hope intends to enhance these initiatives, integrating itself into the university community, “from disposables to beverage ingredients and food items, as well as providing additional educational curriculum tie-ins on sustainability and food to support university classes and student projects,” Stamberger explained.
Stamberger elaborated that the master supplier agreements with Sodexo, Aramark and other foodservice operators will open relationships with more outlets, including college and corporate campuses, airports and hospitals, allowing for Planting Hope to introduce its “products to those operators in environments operated by these groups and provide their teams with first-hand experience with these items.”
Further, “Planting Hope is also looking at expanding the Argo Tea Cafes across more colleges and universities, and are revisiting university Argo Tea Café locations that closed due to COVID as candidates to reopen,” she concluded.