- Chickpea-based snack brand Hippeas raised $50 million in an investment round from The Craftory Limited. Hippeas said it would use the money to increase innovation, expand production and grow distribution.
- Hippeas also named Greg Buscher, who has 25 years of C-suite experience and a background in operations and manufacturing, as CFO. In addition, the company added César Melo to its board of directors. Melo, an investor and advisor to early-stage companies in the areas of better-food, better-planet, and better-technology, was previously an executive at companies including Mondelez International and PepsiCo.
- What began as a company selling puffed chickpeas has evolved into a powerhouse with a meaningful share of the better-for-you snacking market. Hippeas founder Livio Bisterzo said the company wants to evolve into a snacking platform with a presence across multiple snacking categories.
Since its founding in 2016, Hippeas said it wants to become a $100 million brand. With a growing interest in snacking and better-for-you offerings, the chickpea maker appears on its way to reaching its goal despite outside challenges. Bisterzo said in a statement that during the pandemic, the brand “has been fortunate to have seen strong growth.”
A big part of that success comes from the fact that its healthy snack products check all the boxes consumers are looking for, including organic, gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan. During the last five years, Hippeas has grown rapidly. According to Crunchbase, it has received a total of $22 million in funding prior to this most recent investment.
Even though the brand has been rumored as an acquisition target, Hippeas has yet to be purchased despite claiming shelf space in 50,000 stores and attracting the interest of celebrity investors. Last year, Bisterzo told Food Dive the company is “potentially” working toward an acquisition by a bigger company in the future. For now, he noted there is plenty of growth for the company thanks to the rise of plant-based snacking. Several companies in the food space have been actively growing their better-for-you portfolios in recent years, including Hershey, Mondelez and PepsiCo, making them logical buyers for a company like Hippeas.
While plant-based foods and snacking are trends that have gained momentum in recent years, the pandemic noticeably accelerated their growth, with companies like Hippeas among the beneficiaries. Eighty-eight percent of adults admitted to snacking more or the same than they were before the outbreak, according to a recent report by Mondelez. The same report found 64% of those who are snacking are relying on these foods to nourish their body. Plant-based options are positioned to be a key component in their choice. But being plant-based is not the only attribute getting Hippeas noticed.
An Innova Market Insights report found salty snacks are showing especially strong sales and that these savory choices are popular substitutes for meals as almost a quarter of consumers are using them to replace lunch and 17% eating them instead of dinner. Hippeas, with its portfolio of puffs and chips, plays right into this demand.
In addition to catering to consumer demand for better-for-you snacks, Hippeas also strives to sell products that are sustainable, a stance that resonates well with consumers and some of its investors. The Craftory, an investor in the latest round, also is a certified B-Corp. For Hippeas, its product offerings and sustainability pledge should help the company in the near term. However, with robust competition in the snacks space, the cash infusion, the business expertise of its new CFO and its new board member's time at Mondelez and PepsiCo, should go a long way toward helping it stand out in the market place.