OAKLAND, CALIF. — Kuli Kuli, a maker of nutrition bars, powders and beverages featuring African “superfood” moringa, has closed a $5 million Series B financing round led by Griffith Foods and Kellogg Co.’s venture capital fund, eighteen94 capital. Other institutional investors include InvestEco, S2G Ventures, Authentic Ventures, VilCap Investments and Rocana Venture Partners.
The financing round is Kellogg’s second investment in Kuli Kuli. In January 2017, eighteen94 capital led a $4.25 million Series A funding round for the company, which marked the venture capital fund’s first investment following its launch in June 2016.
“Kuli Kuli was eighteen94’s first investment and has served as a model for how large food companies can partner with start-ups to the benefit of both,” said Simon Burton, managing director of eighteen94 capital. “We’re thrilled to grow and strengthen our partnership with Kuli Kuli.”
The $5 million investment will help Kuli Kuli launch its new moringa ingredient business while continuing to scale its moringa powder, bars and shot business, the company said.
“After eighteen94 capital led Kuli Kuli’s Series A financing in 2017, Kuli Kuli’s retail business tripled,” said Lisa Curtis, founder and chief executive officer of Kuli Kuli. “We’re thrilled to continue to partner with Kellogg to grow our retail business while partnering with Griffith Foods to expand into the food service and ingredient space.”
Griffith Foods plans to include moringa in its range of ingredient offerings for the company’s food service customers, processors, retailers and distributors across 30 countries. Griffith Foods also invested in ReGrained, which markets spent brewers’ grains as a baking ingredient, in September 2018.
“Griffith Foods’ purpose, that ‘we blend care and creativity to nourish the world,’ calls us to find innovative solutions to changing needs,” said Brian Griffith, executive chairman of Griffith Foods. “We also know that Griffith Foods cannot do this alone. Our strategic partnership with Kuli Kuli will help both companies elevate moringa as an exciting new ingredient, and we look forward to bringing this sustainable and healthy offering to the food sector.”
Kuli Kuli was founded in 2013 by Ms. 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. The company recently added new organic moringa green smoothie mixes to its product portfolio of moringa powders, shots, energy bars and herbal teas. Kuli Kuli products are sold in more than 7,000 stores.