Voyage Foods CEO on where brand goes after $52m raise: 'Retail products were always really a steppingstone'

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Voyage Foods - Jayme Burrows
Image Credit: Voyage Foods - Jayme Burrows

Related tags Voyage Foods

Food-tech company Voyage Foods raised $52m in its Series A+ funding round to grow its ingredient business as it prepares to open a second facility later this year.

The round was co-led by Level One Fund and Horizons Ventures with participation from Collaborative Fund, Nimble Partners and SOSV. Voyage Foods has raised $94m across four funding rounds.  

Voyage Foods offers a range of nut-free peanut spreads for retail and bean-free coffee and cocoa-free chocolate for foodservice and business-to-business (B2B) channels, CEO Adam Maxwell told FoodNavigator-USA. 

The company manufactures these products at its Oakland, Calif., plant but will open a new facility in the Midwest later this year with the help of the recent funding round, he added. 

“Everything is going to grow a little bit. We are definitely putting a lot of capital into our next facility. We are very much at our heart a food-technology company aiming to solve big human and environmental problems through food, and so, continuing to index on research and development, making the best, most scalable, most sustainable versions of these products. And then beyond that, it is really on the commercial side, how do we grow our footprint, grow our demand, really extend out both more in America, especially on the coffee and chocolate side, but also globally," he said.

Meeting the demands of a Cargill partnership

In expanding its manufacturing capacity, Voyage Foods will develop into a “more mature food manufacturing company” to meet the demand of its recent partnership with Cargill. 

Last month, Cargill became the exclusive B2B distributor for Voyage Foods’ cocoa-free chocolate portfolio, ideal for bakery, ice cream and confectionery applications.  

“Going from a small 3-year-old food company technology company in the Bay Area with 40 people to the largest food company in the world basically being your sales and distribution, you have to put your big-boy pants on,” Maxwell said. “A lot of this is ensuring that we can keep up with their growth and scale and really help them help their customers and deliver against that.” 

This week, Voyage Foods launched​ its first B2B partnership with Rudy’s Rocky Mountain Bakery, a new pocket sandwich – made with a single piece of hollowed-out bread – that features Voyage Foods’ peanut-free spread. 

Moving forward, Voyage Foods is focusing on quick-service restaurants (QSR) and other foodservice establishments that "do not want peanuts in their facilities," Maxwell said. In the last nine months, the food-tech company has grown "a relatively robust foodservice business" in K-12 schools, he added.  

"[We are] focusing more on commercial foodservice ... where there is slightly more brand impact and more consumer touch now that we have more of the bandwidth," Maxwell said.  

‘Dynamic tension’ between the branded, B2B products 

In building its B2B channel, Voyage Foods simultaneously built its retail distribution of its Peanut-Free and Hazelnut-Free Spreads, which are in nearly 2,000 stores and launched in Walmart last October​. 

While admitting “there is definitely dynamic tension between [Voyage Foods’] branded retail products and the B2B side,” Maxwell explained that the experience with retail helped the brand grow into an ingredient provider. 

“Going from not making anything to fulfilling full truckload orders and multiple truckload orders to other companies is in some way shape or form a seemingly impossible task. To be able to flex those manufacturing muscles and get really good at it, the retail side helped us get there.” 

As it focuses more on the ingredient business, Voyage Foods can deliver on its mission of creating more inclusive and accessible foods and beverages and a more sustainable food system​, Maxwell elaborated. 

"From day one, retail products were always really a steppingstone. For us, it was [to] make more sustainable, more accessible, clean-label products that are better for people and the planet. And the way to actually create the most impact with that was never going to be with Voyage Foods replacing a Snickers, but Voyage Foods being the chocolate-coating in a Snickers," he said. 

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