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301 INC Leads $17M Series B for Plant-Based and Ultra-Fresh Food Producer

January 22, 2018

Urban Remedy, a maker of plant-based and ultra-fresh organic and non-GMO ready-to-eat meals, snacks, and fresh juices, has raised a $17 million Series B led by 301 INC, the venture capital unit of General Mills.

At the same time, Urban Remedy announced that John Foraker, the CEO of baby food maker Once Upon a Farm and former CEO of Annie’s – now a subsidiary of General Mills – will join its board of directors.

Founded in Port Richmond, California, in 2009 by Neka Pasquale, a licensed acupuncturist who integrates the wisdom of Chinese medicine into the production of nourishing, natural, and anti-inflammatory foods, Urban Remedy has a different retail framework than other similar companies, selling its products through a series of refrigerated kiosks located in 30 Whole Foods across the state, as well as through their own 13 retail locations, and through direct-to-consumer channels. The retail locations sell between 75 and 100 prepared fresh foods, while the kiosks sell between 20 and 30 snacks, fresh juices, and prepared meals.

The kiosk business has seen strong growth. Paul Coletta, CEO of Urban Remedy, told FoodNavigator-USA, “So today, by far my most important partner is Whole Foods. We opened our first fresh food kiosk with them only a little over a year ago and today we have 30…they have been a phenomenal partner.”

The funding from 301 INC will be used by the company to accelerate its mission to deliver healing foods to a greater share of the consumer market; expand its senior-level team; and enhance its production capacity and equipment, according to Project Nosh.

“We are thrilled to partner with Urban Remedy, a company whose multi-channel go-to-market strategy thrives at delivering fresh, healthy food to consumers,” said John Haugen, vice president and general manager of 301 INC. “Through retail stores, branded kiosks, and direct-to-consumer delivery, Urban Remedy excels at providing convenient access to organic products.”

Speaking to Project Nosh, Haugen said, “This [investment] is a continuation of a strategy that we’ve been on for a long time, and that is consumers are looking for fresh, closer to source, closer to whole foods. They are continually redefining health and healthful eating experiences. When you look at this [deal] and overlay our current strategy, it checks all the boxes in our investment thesis.”

Although to some, the multi-channel sales model might seem scattered, or lacking a solid identity, the pathway seems to be paying off for Urban Remedy, and the environment.

“All of our channels – the company-owned retail locations, the fresh food kiosks in Whole Foods and other locations, and the direct to consumer business – work together to be greater than the sum of their parts,” Coletta told Food Navigator-USA. … “When you are trying to scale a fresh food business, food waste is your number one enemy and an omni-channel model goes a long way to mitigate that challenge.”

This is the ninth investment made by 301 INC. Its eighth investment, which was announced in April 2017, was its commitment of $3 million in exchange for a minority stake in Boulder, Colorado-based Purely Elizabeth – a leading natural, “superfood” company that produces natural, gluten-free, vegan, and organic, nutrient-dense granola, oatmeal, muesli, and cereal. All products in the company’s lineup are free of artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, and preservatives.

Formally launched in October 2015, 301 INC was a testament by General Mills, the maker of the iconic Cheerios and Lucky Charms among many other popular brands, that there was a shift occurring within the food sector that was creating a scenario in which Big Food needed the rapid-response innovation generated by startups as much as startups need the capital available from Big Food.

Other existing companies in the 301 INC portfolio include:

Kite Hill – a California-based producer of artisanal, dairy alternative products.

good culture® – a producer of organic, grass fed, high protein, low-sugar cottage cheeses that are free of thickeners, gums, stabilizers, or additives.

Rhythm Superfoods – (the first company that 301 INC engaged with upon its launch) is a producer of a line of superfood snacks including Kale Chips, Broccoli Bites, Beet Chips, and Roasted Kale.

D’s Naturals – an innovative producer of plant-based, non-GMO, non-dairy protein bars that have an extremely low sugar content, and a line of protein-infused, dairy-free, low-sugar nut butters.

Farmhouse Culture – a producer of probiotic-rich foods and beverages including sauerkraut, probiotic drinks, and Kraut Krisps, a chip made with 50 percent sauerkraut.

Tio Gazpacho – a producer of portable, drinkable soups that contain no artificial ingredients.

And Beyond Meat – producer of a plant-based hamburger that looks, cooks, and tastes like ground beef.

-Lynda Kiernan

Lynda Kiernan is Editor with GAI Media and daily contributor to GAI News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@globalaginvesting.com

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