WATSONVILLE, CALIF. — Farmhouse Culture, a maker of organic sauerkraut and fermented vegetables, has captured significant growth in recent years, fueled by consumer demand for products that promote gut health. As a testament to the trend, the company recently closed a $6.5 million investment round led by 301 INC, the new business development and venturing unit of General Mills, Inc. With a presence in nearly 3,000 retail outlets, mostly natural and specialty food stores, Farmhouse Culture plans to expand into conventional channels, with help from General Mills, said John Tucker, chief executive officer of Farmhouse Culture.
|John Tucker, c.e.o. of Farmhouse Culture|
“We’re seeing such a demand and a high level of interest from all kinds of consumers regarding probiotic foods as a whole, and the conventional retailers are showing a great deal of interest in what we’re bringing to the table,” Mr. Tucker told Food Business News.
Founded in 2008, Farmhouse Culture offers sauerkraut in such flavors as garlic dill pickle, horseradish leek, smoked jalapeño and California-style kimchi. The brand recently began bottling the leftover liquid from sauerkraut production to introduce Gut Shots, a range of tangy beverages with probiotics. A newly launched line of fermented vegetables includes such varieties as ginger beets, curry cauliflower, orange ginger carrots and taqueria mix, which has carrots, daikon radish, jicama, onion and jalapeño.
At Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Farmhouse Culture is unveiling Kraut Krisps, a line of snack chips made with sauerkraut and added probiotics. Flavors include dill pickle, sea salt, smoked jalapeño, white cheddar and zesty garden veggie. The products were developed to deliver the nutrition of fermented vegetables in a convenient, familiar format, Mr. Tucker said. The company worked with Ganeden, a Cleveland-based supplier of probiotic ingredients, to add live cultures to the spice blend on the chips.
Another new product line debuting at Expo West is Gut Punch, sparkling beverages made with fermented vegetable liquid in such flavors as orange cream, mango guava, ginger lemon, strawberry hibiscus, cherry cacao and cola.
“When you talk about flavor profiles and fermented vegetables, there is a tremendous opportunity to expand the range of flavor profiles that we can ultimately bring, whether it be in the form of snacks or beverages or other foodstuffs,” Mr. Tucker said.
Looking ahead, he said “the door is wide open” for innovation at Farmhouse Culture.
“Talking to 301 INC and our team … there are very few categories where we couldn’t ultimately bring our brand to bear,” Mr. Tucker said. “We really do feel we’ve captured the art and tradition of fermented vegetables in a very big way. We think incorporating more vegetables into the diet is a real positive to the health and wellbeing of consumers and really the foundation of what we’re all about. We’re very excited about the possibilities based on the development work we have under way.”
Mr. Tucker, previously c.e.o. of Dave’s Killer Bread and president of So Delicious Dairy Free, joined Farmhouse Culture last year, leading the company to “significant double-digit growth, and we are anticipating greater than triple-digit growth this year,” he said. Partnering with 301 INC will enable the company to expand distribution and accelerate innovation, bringing “a host of new probiotic-rich foods to the marketplace,” he added.
Among previous investments by 301 INC are Rhythm Superfoods, a maker of kale chips and beet chips; Kite Hill, a producer of nut-based cheese and yogurt; and Good Culture, an organic cottage cheese brand.“They’re bringing world class resources on so many different levels, from research and development to marketing to distribution to supply chain to operations,” Mr. Tucker said of 301 INC. “With a company of our size, those types of resources are invaluable.”