Kellogg invests in 'superfood' snack bar maker

by Monica Watrous
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Kuli Kulie moringa products
Kuli Kuli manufactures nutrition bars, powders and beverages featuring moringa.

BATTLE CREEK, MICH. — Kellogg Co.’s venture capital fund, eighteen94 capital, led a $4.25 million Series A funding of Kuli Kuli, a maker of nutrition bars, powders and beverages featuring African “superfood” moringa. Other institutional investors in the round included InvestEco and S2G Ventures.

Based in Oakland, Calif., Kuli Kuli was founded in 2013 by Lisa Curtis, who discovered moringa while volunteering with the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa. Rich in protein, potassium, calcium and vitamin A, moringa is a complete plant protein with all nine essential amino acids. Products include Moringa Superfood Bars in crunchy almond, dark chocolate and black cherry varieties; Moringa Green Energy Shots in coconut lime, ginger lemon and raspberry flavors; Pure Moringa Vegetable Powder and Organic Moringa Tea.

Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli Foods
Lisa Curtis, founder of Kuli Kuli

“We are excited to partner with eighteen94 capital and Kellogg, and we’re thrilled that they see the potential in our company and in moringa as a next-generation superfood,” said Ms. Curtis, chief executive officer of Kuli Kuli. “We want to create a world where everyone has access to nutritious sources of food. Through this relationship, Kuli Kuli will benefit from Kellogg’s resources and global presence, both of which will help us achieve our goals.”

Kuli Kuli is the first investment for eighteen94 capital, which was launched in June 2016 to fund start-ups pursuing “next-generation innovation” and pioneering new ingredients, food and packaging, according to the company.

Simon Burton, eighteen94 Kellogg
Simon Burton, managing director of eighteen94 capital 

“By investing in Kuli Kuli and helping them grow, we’re backing a new superfood category, one in which we see the potential for ongoing high-growth,” said Simon Burton, managing director of eighteen94 capital and now a member of the Kuli Kuli board of directors. “We love the company’s strong management team, great products and the authenticity of their social mission.”

Kuli Kuli sources moringa from women’s cooperatives across West Africa, South America and the Caribbean. To date, the company has planted 200,000 moringa trees and supported 800 women farmers to earn a sustainable living. Through its Moringa Partners Program, Kuli Kuli funds moringa projects across the globe with 10% of sales.

Kuli Kuli products are sold in more than 3,000 stores and national retailers, including Safeway-Albertsons, Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, Fred Meyer and H.E.B.

Ms. Curtis spoke to Food Business News in 2015 about the founding and future of her company. Read more here
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