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Plant-based frozen food group Strong Roots raises $18m in funding

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Strong Roots, the UK's fastest-growing food brand, has raised $18m in funding. Photo: Strong Roots

Strong Roots, the UK’s fastest-growing food brand, has raised $18m (£14.8m) to fund its expansion into the US.

The Irish company, which makes plant-based frozen food products, said on Tuesday that the funding would help “catalyse” its already rapid growth.

“We’re already in two of the biggest markets in the world — the UK and the USA,” said Samuel Dennigan, the CEO of Strong Roots, in an interview with Yahoo Finance UK.

“Both of those markets are going to require capital to deliver on our very ambitious plans,” he said.

In April, Strong Roots was named as the fastest-growing food brand in the UK, far ahead of its closest competitor.

The company is rolling out eight of its top-selling products to 3,000 stores in the US, including those at Target (TGT) and Whole Foods.

Its products, which include kale-and-quinoa burgers and cauliflower hash browns, are already stocked by most major UK retailers, including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer.

The company said that it expects retail sales of $50m (£41m) this year, and projects that it will make $300m (£247m) a year by 2023.

The firm, which was founded four years ago, has maintained growth of over 100% in the past three years and the company said it will be able to maintain it above 90% in the coming years.

The series A funding round — the first time it has raised outside funding — was led by New York-based private equity firm Goode Partners, which Dennigan said was the “perfect partner”.

Goode Partners previously invested in Dave’s Killer Bread, which sold for $275m in 2015, and Philadelphia-based coffee roaster La Colombe.

The growth of Strong Roots comes at a time when consumers are increasingly incorporating plant-based foods into their diet.

“We make simple, real food,” said Dennigan, noting that the company’s products, though plant-based, were quite different from alternative meat brands like Beyond Meat (BYND) and Impossible Burger.

“We’re not trying to make things look or act like meat. We’re just simply — in a very skilled way — putting together vegetable recipes with very simple ingredients that taste great,” he said.

“Why we’ve done so well so quickly is that we have huge customer loyalty and repeat purchases, and that is underpinned entirely by the fact that our products taste so great.”

Strong Roots products, rather than being one-off purchases, tend to become a “staple” of the shopping trolley, he said.

Dan Bonoff, of Goode Partners, said that Strong Roots had created a “truly differentiated brand.”

“In an impressively short amount of time, Sam has built an exciting brand that resonates with consumers’ increasing preferences towards healthful and environmentally sustainable foods.”