SEATTLE — Greek yogurt brand Ellenos secured an $18 million investment from Daniel Lubetzky, founder and executive chairman of Kind Snacks.
The investment will bolster national expansion efforts, Ellenos said. Mr. Lubetzky also will serve as a mentor to the brand’s founders and leadership team.
Ellenos was founded in 2013 when Bob and Yvonne Klein convinced Australian father and son duo Con and Alex Apostolopoulos to bring their Greek yogurt recipe to the United States. The families launched the company as a fresh scooped yogurt bar in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. It has grown rapidly since then, moving to a production facility in 2014 and expanding distribution into natural and specialty grocers in 2016.
The company now has its sights set on continued expansion beyond the West coast.
Ellenos raised $18 million from Los-Angeles-based private equity firm Monogram Capital Partners in 2018. The funds were used to build a bigger production facility in Federal Way, Wash., which increased capacity from 10,000 lbs of yogurt a day to around 100,000 lbs. In the year since production at the factory began, its packaged product distribution more than tripled.
Ellenos’ Greek yogurt is made and blended over a proprietary five-day process. Its products are topped with house-made fresh fruit purees and indulgent compotes. Flavors include marionberry, passion fruit, vanilla bean, lemon curd, muesli and mango.
The company’s goal is to evolve the usage occasion for yogurt outside of breakfast, said co-founder Con Apostolopoulos. While breakfast remains the top occasion for yogurt consumption, a report from Innova Market Insights found the morning daypart has lost ground in recent years as a growing number of consumers turn yogurt into a snack. Dinner is also a growing niche, according to the report, which noted that half of all U.S. consumers now buy yogurt as part of their typical grocery basket.
“We make amazing yogurt — I’m confident in that — but the American packaged food industry is totally different from what we’re used to in both Greece and Australia,” Mr. Apostolopoulos said. “So while we have a ton of momentum right now, to have someone like Daniel as a partner — a fellow founder who has achieved aspirational success as a disruptor in the food space — it gives us this incredible opportunity to leverage his knowledge to help us take Ellenos to the masses and scale this community that we’ve built in the Northwest across the entire country.”
As the founder and executive chairman of a billion-dollar healthy snacks brand, Mr. Lubetzky will use his experience building Kind Snacks from the ground up to guide Ellenos through its next phase of growth.
Kind has sold more than two billion snack bars since launching in 2004 and today is one of the top selling snack bar brands in the world, according to Euromonitor.
“Not only is Ellenos obsessive about the craft of yogurt-making and sourcing the highest quality ingredients, but its leadership and team exemplify my belief that how we build a brand is as important as what we are building,” Mr. Lubetzky said. “The sense of community that Ellenos has created in the Pacific Northwest is palpable and I am honored to support the brand’s founding team throughout its next chapter.”