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Kite Hill attracts $10M more to boost plant-based dairy products

Dive Transient:

  • Kite Hill, a producer of yogurt, cheese and dips constituted of almond milk, has obtained $10 million in its newest spherical of funding, in line with a Kind D filed final week with the U.S. Securities and Change Fee. The funding got here from one undisclosed investor, Meals Navigator reported.
  • That is the fourth funding spherical for the California firm since 2014 and brings the entire raised to $75.5 million, in line with Crunchbase. Earlier backers embrace Basic Mills’ 301 Inc enterprise capital arm and CAVU Enterprise Companions.
  • Kite Hill CEO Rob Leibowitz informed Meals Navigator the corporate plans to make use of the brand new funding on innovation, infrastructure, individuals and advertising. Kite Hill just lately launched a brand new packaging design and brand, plus new plant-based dips, spreads, yogurt and pasta crammed with plant-based ricotta, the publication famous.

Dive Perception:

Kite Hill continues to get vital backing since its launch in 2013, establishing itself as a giant participant within the non-dairy yogurt and cheese class. Together with different funding rounds in 2014, 2016 and 2018, the corporate — co-founded by Inconceivable Meals CEO Patrick Brown — has managed to accrue a powerful $75.5 million to construct on its plant-based product line and introduce improvements.

Its funding has typically come from some main gamers within the meals trade resembling Basic Mills’ VC arm, which has participated at the very least twice in Kite Hill’s funding rounds. The 2018 spherical this previous fall introduced in $40 million for the corporate, which exhibits a excessive degree of confidence in its merchandise, operations and path.

CEO Rob Leibowitz informed Meals Navigator on the time the firm had roughly doubled its income every year and anticipated to proceed on that path this 12 months. And, in 2021, Kite Hill expects to see 5 occasions the enterprise it had in 2017, the publication reported this week.

Whereas Kite Hill is privately held and does not report earnings, it appears to be attracting an rising variety of prospects and driving gross sales by means of product availability at Entire Meals, Goal, Kroger, Safeway and Meijer. Revamping its brand and packaging design and introducing improvements is also serving to preserve the model present within the face of ever-increasing competitors from different plant-based producers.

It is clear plant-based dairy merchandise are resonating with at the moment’s shoppers. Based on Nielsen information cited by TechCrunch, annual gross sales of vegan cheese jumped 41% by means of August 2018, whereas gross sales of standard dairy cheese have been flat. Gross sales of plant-based yogurt elevated 39% for the 12 months ending April 21, whereas standard yogurt gross sales dropped by 3%, figures from The Good Meals Institute and the Plant Based mostly Meals Affiliation present.

Shopper acceptance of dairy options presents a chance for Kite Hill and the plant-based dairy class to proceed to seize development. Whether or not which means it’s going to proceed on the identical normal path for the following few years or place itself for a potential acquisition stays to be seen. Leibowitz indicated final 12 months after being named CEO that “nothing is off the table” for the corporate.

In the meantime, Kite Hill might enterprise away from its almond milk product base. The almond-shaped photos on its earlier packaging have been changed with triangular coloration blocks, and it may very well be time so as to add oats, hemp, pea and/or blends of plant-based supply substances to remain related with adventurous shoppers. Whereas almond milk remains to be fashionable, Danone and Califia have just lately added oat-based merchandise to faucet into the pattern.

Leibowitz did not present specifics about the place Kite Hill may look subsequent for supply substances, however he acknowledged to Meals Navigator the corporate did not must completely keep on with almonds and was open to exploring different choices. 

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