Flavorful Brands, marketers of Tasti-Lee® Tomatoes and Goldies® Onions in the U.S. and Canada, announced yesterday that it completed a Series A $5 million capital raise with strategic investor House Foods Group Inc., a Japanese food conglomerate with substantial U.S. holdings. The agreement was signed with Flavorful Brands’ current owners--LHF, Inc. of Mission Viejo, CA. and Marrero Venture, Inc. of San Diego, CA--and Bejo Seeds, Inc. of Oceano, CA. (a division of Bejo Zaden, Warmenhuizen, The Netherlands) and the representative director and president of Tokyo-based House Foods Group Inc.
With this recent closing, House Foods joins forces with Flavorful Brands’ founding members—LHF, Inc. and Marrero Ventures Inc.--along with Bejo Seeds, Inc., which breeds, produces, processes and sells non-GMO premium-quality vegetable seeds. “Our funding objective was to find a strategic partner with deep food industry experience and who shared our vision,’” said Christopher Lindley, founding partner, president and CEO of Flavorful Brands. “House Foods Group Inc.’s presence and planned expansion in the U.S. makes them an ideal partner as we innovate in the fast-developing branded produce sector.” Jose Marrero, founding partner and chief operating officer added “The commitment of House Foods Group Inc. and Bejo Seeds to invest in our vision demonstrates the value of our market position and influence.”
Flavorful Brands will use this growth capital to rapidly scale and build out their existing brands nationally. It will also fund their continued work as an incubator of new products. It has been granted exclusive access to certain proprietary Bejo vegetable seed genetics that deliver consumer-preferred product attributes. Working in close partnership with Bejo Seeds, Flavorful Brands will identify, develop and commercialize high-value, high-flavor produce products from Bejo’s pipeline of genetics. Select items will be launched into retail and foodservice markets throughout the U.S. and Canada via Flavorful Brands’ network of exclusive growers and distributors. The focus will be on improved produce across multiple genera including solanum (potatoes, tomatoes), brassica (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi), allium (onions, garlic, shallots, leeks) and daucus (carrots).
With these strategic partners, Flavorful Brands also gains benefits from their collective corporate scale, decades of research and development and strategic relationships with growers, distributors and customers. Bejo’s R&D seed-breeding platform creates improved seed performance in areas such as disease and insect resistance while delivering flavor and texture for consumers. It is not uncommon for this seed-breeding process to take a minimum of eight to 12 years to deliver the desired improvements and attributes, creating a competitive moat for Flavorful Brands among rival companies desiring to introduce similar products.
“From Seeds to Smiles™, Flavorful Brands is now vertically integrated,” said Lindley. “We are positioned to capitalize on innovation trends in the complex fresh vegetable business and we will continue to prioritize addressing consumer needs for flavor, texture and shelf life. Industry growers, distributors and retailers all seek ‘new and different’ products to stay ahead of competition. The close relationships with our members and supply chain partners gives Flavorful Brands the opportunity to focus on the consumer experience rather than typical supply chain drivers of high yield and low costs. Feedback from our network and research with consumers keeps us continually updated about the latest trends and developments.”
Marrero added “Premium-branded, high-flavor produce varieties are the future and Flavorful Brands is positioned to deliver. We’re developing produce products based on proven genetics that promise consumers an improved eating experience in a sea of commoditized vegetables that often leave consumers wanting more: more flavor, more culinary trait improvements and more consistent quality in selecting and preparing their vegetables. This new capital provides additional resources to grow our national brands and advance several new products through Flavorful Brands’ significant pipeline of innovation.”