Cottage cheese innovator good culture lands $3 million investment
The young company, which entered the sleepy cottage cheese category slightly more than year ago, first caught the attention of high profile investors CAVU Venture Partners and 301 INC, the business development and venturing unit of food giant General Mills, last year.
At the time, the deal was notable for how early in development the company was when it secured the funding. But the investors said then that they were confident that good culture was a smart bet even as it was an early bet – especially considering how cycle times are compressing and large companies are snapping up innovative startups at earlier and earlier stages.
And good culture did not let them down. In the past year, it expanded distribution to Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, Wegman’s, Meijer, select ShopRite and Publix as well as other grocers nationwide, and saw sales climb more than 10 times, co-founder and CEO Jesse Merrill told FoodNavigator-USA.
With numbers like that CAVU Venture Partners’ and 301 INC’s decision this month to extend their partnership with good culture makes sense.
This round of funding also brought investment from the Eisner family through Anders Eisner, good culture’s chairman of the board and co-founder.
Good culture’s revolutionary approach
The funds also are a testament to the investors’ belief in good culture’s mission and approach to revolutionizing the cottage cheese industry.
The company aims to “bring back” cottage cheese by modernizing its packaging and flavors and by positioning it squarely within several macro-trends dominating the food and beverage space currently.
“Good culture is a nutrient-dense, high-protein, simple ingredient product ticking several [health and wellness] megatrend buckets that are on top of mind with our consumer target,” Merrill said. For example, the cottage cheese is grass-fed and additive-free, as well as a “real food” with a clean ingredient deck that consumers understand.
The company also updated how cottage cheese was packaged by offering it in 5.3 ounce cups that can be consumed on the go more easily than the traditional multi-serving container in which the dairy product is primarily sold.
In addition, it offers modern flavors and on-trend mix-ins including Strawberry Chia, Blueberry Acai, Kalamata Olive and Classic.
While the company is all about updating cottage cheese, it also recognizes the power of tradition. As such, at Expo East in Baltimore later this month, it will launch a new variety that is “island inspired” but also iconic by pairing whole milk cottage cheese with pineapple.
The company also will use the funds to launch several “exciting new innovations” in 2017, said Merrill, who otherwise was tight-lipped about what consumers can expect. Although he did add that “we are very excited about the journey ahead.”
General Mills 301 INC head John Haugen (below second from left) will be speaking on day one of Food Vision USA 2016 in Chicago on November 9 as part of a panel featuring Honest Tea co-founder Seth Goldman (far left), CircleUp head of funds Jason Starr (second from right) and Sonoma Brands founder Jon Sebastiani (far right).
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