Mooala completed an $8.3 million Series A funding round led by the Sweat Equities investment firm. Participation also included several other investment firms and family offices, including M3 Ventures, which led the company's seed round.
The Dallas-based maker of organic, dairy-free beverages and creamers said this brings its total funding to more than $13 million. It will enable the company to expand into new markets, accelerate product development and boost its internal team.
Mooala, best known for its organic, nut-free, dairy-free and soy-free Bananamilk, recently launched an all-organic line of dairy-free creamers made with a base of coconut cream and almonds. The company's beverages are currently available at more than 2,500 retailers nationwide, including Whole Foods Market, Wegmans, ShopRite, Albertsons, Safeway, Giant and Kroger.
Mooala founder and CEO Jeff Richards told BevNET this latest financing round will give the company working capital to expand to more than 3,500 stores nationwide in January. The company now has nine SKUs — triple the number from two years ago — and Richards said the cash will help support the additional store count.
Adding to the internal team is another priority since Richards said the company only has five full-time employees. On his wish list are a chief operating officer and a finance lead, although no specific plans are in place yet. He also plans to add an e-commerce arm.
Mooala got out in front with its organic banana milk and chocolate banana milk in 2016. It was the only company making such products at the time, although Fresh Start Beverage's Banana Wave had debuted its non-organic product in 2013.
Mooala's Bananamilk still dominates the category. Even though the company has expanded to products including oat milk and plant-based creamers, the flagship product — made with just six ingredients — is still Mooala's best-selling item. Richards recently told Forbes the company tripled its sales in 2018. He expects them to double this year.
Consumer demand for non-dairy beverages is surging, rising 61% during the past five years, according to Mintel. Many plant-based milk producers have responded by developing milk made from a variety of other sources to gain first-mover advantages and edge out competitors.
Mooala isn't the only plant-based milk company successfully attracting funding. Califia Farms of Los Angeles raised $50 million in a third funding round last year to boost production of its non-dairy almond and oat milk products, non-dairy coffee drinks, creamers and probiotic dairy-free yogurt beverages. That brought Califia's total funding to $115 million.
As Mooala continues to develop new products and expand beyond its current geographical footprint, it is likely to push organic plant-based products further into consumers' consciousness — where they already enjoy growing prominence. But, as Richards told Forbes, plant-based milk products can exist alongside traditional milk ones. He said the company's internal research reveals more than 70% of consumers buy both Mooala products and dairy-based ones.