- Urban Remedy, a California-based maker of fresh juices and ready-to-eat plant-based meals, has closed $17 million in funding led by 301 INC, General Mills' investment arm, according to Food Navigator. The company ships its products directly to consumers, and operates 13 retail locations and 30 Whole Foods kiosks throughout the Golden State.
- Food industry veteran John Foraker will join the company's board of directors. Foraker, CEO of organic baby food company Once Upon a Farm, is also the former CEO of organic food brand Annie's, which General Mills acquired in 2014 for $820 million.
- This new round of funding will help Urban Remedy expand its product capacity and enter a second market outside of San Francisco.
At first glance, the partnership between a 152-year-old Big Food company that has built its name on shelf-stable cereal and boxed cake mixes and a newcomer that specializes in ready-to-eat meals with a three-day shelf life seems a bit mismatched.
But these kinds of partnerships are becoming increasingly common as legacy food manufacturers lend both cash and advice to fresh and trendy food startups in exchange for a slice of their health halo.
This investment in Urban Remedy is in line with General Mills' other recent investments in organic food startups that focus on plant-based nutrition. With each of these deals, General Mills seems to be positioning itself for growth beyond the sluggish cereal aisle and into the growing fresh prepared food section of the supermarket.
With its multiple delivery options, Urban Remedy gives General Mills several opportunities to reach consumers as they seek healthy ready-to-eat meal solutions. Urban Remedy's kiosk business has proven to be quite lucrative -- last year the channel as a whole saw 350% growth, and the business overall saw 100% growth, Food Navigator reported. As the company grows, Urban Remedy could be able to access General Mill's burgeoning organic supply chain and extensive distribution network.
"Scaling a fresh food business where products have little more than three day's shelf life is incredibly challenging so having a partner like 301 INC. at our side and helping us make the right decisions is hugely -- let's call it an unfair competitive advantage," Urban Remedy CEO Paul Coletta told Food Navigator.
This deal could be very beneficial for General Mills, as well, since it pushes the company out of the center-store and into faster-growing in-store and online channels.