NEW YORK — A fresh shot of capital and a new product line are pushing RIND Snacks, Inc. closer to its aspirations of becoming a billion-dollar brand, said founder and chief executive officer Matt Weiss.
The maker of skin-on dried fruit snacks has closed a $6.1 million Series A capital financing round led by Valor Siren Ventures, a division of Valor Equity Partners, and including a follow-on investment from Melitas Ventures. The funding will be used to accelerate new product development, support national retail and online distribution, and expand the team with key hires in sales, operations and marketing.
Founded in 2018, RIND offers a range of dried fruits featuring the peel, which typically packs more vitamins, antioxidants and fiber than the flesh. The company uses a gentle dehydration process and no additives such as the sugars or sulfites often found in dried fruit, Mr. Weiss said. Offerings include an orchard blend of persimmon, peach and apple; a tropical blend of orange, pineapple and kiwi; a mix of strawberry, bosc pear and apple; and a combination of coconut and watermelon. The products are available in select Whole Foods Market stores, Wegmans, The Fresh Market, Erewhon and Foxtrot, plus online grocers including Hungryroot and Imperfect Foods.
RIND’s revenue grew five-fold in 2020 and is expected to triple this year as the brand’s footprint expands to more than 3,000 retail stores and several leading direct-to-consumer platforms. Also last year, the company diverted more than 120,000 lbs of edible peels from landfills and launched a program addressing childhood hunger and nutrition insecurity.
Mr. Weiss drew inspiration for the business from his great-grandmother, a health food shop owner who insisted on using roots, rinds, stems and seeds in recipes to maximize nutrition and minimize waste. Previously an investor in the packaged food industry, Mr. Weiss operated RIND Snacks as a side project for two years prior to pursuing the venture full time. Last year, he brought on his brother-in-law, Ben Cohn, as co-founder and president.
“The more time I spent with dynamic founders, the more I wanted to build my own company and bet on myself and my vision for waking up a sleepy category,” he said, noting the dried fruit market is worth $2 billion in the United States. “Dried fruit should be the ultimate clean single-ingredient snack category, but somewhere along the way it’s been hijacked by candymakers and confectioners who have added sugar to what is already nature’s candy, have added sulfites, the most common of which is sulfur dioxide, to enhance the color and extend the shelf life, and to make everything look uniform and beautiful and plump and almost glow a little neon.”
RIND is set to expand into a new category with the launch of RIND Chips, which are thinly sliced, skin-on fruit that is air-dried and has a crunchy texture. Varieties include apple, orange and kiwi, the latter two of which contain more than 200% and 100% of the daily value of vitamin C per bag, respectively, Mr. Weiss said.
“We are making these look, feel and crunch like a salty snack but have all the immunity and fiber benefits of fruit with the rind on,” Mr. Weiss said. “What’s important to us is they deliver on that classic craveable crunch people like and want and seek out from favorite potato chips or grain-based snacks… Except it’s going to be different in every way because instead of fried sliced potatoes it’s going to be single ingredient — dried oranges, dried kiwis, dried apples as well because it’s obviously a great entry point.”
The fruit chips, which are sturdy enough for dipping, also lend to recent consumer trends, including craft cocktails (add an orange chip to the rim of an old-fashioned, for example) and charcuterie-style graze boards, he said.
“At the end of the day it’s fruit,” he said. “It’s been readily consumed but not in this way and in this form factor. But it’s familiar; it’s not really esoteric like kale chips or kombucha were in the beginning. We think this is going to be a wow factor right away.”
The concept of skin-on snacking may extend to vegetables, legumes and nuts, hitting the brand’s sweet spot of functional snacking and sustainability, he said.
“We believe RIND is a $1 billion platform brand that can extend into multiple product categories with a concept that is a big idea,” he said.