NEW YORK — S CAP, a venture capital firm focused on food and beverage and clean tech companies, has funded Libre Naturals, maker of allergen-free snacks, and Bright Greens, maker of blender-free frozen smoothies. The investments mark S CAP’s first in its food and beverage fund. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“These two companies are ideal candidates for the fund,” said Kunal Sethi, founder of S CAP. “It was designed to address an investment opportunity to bridge the pioneer gap at just the point where the potential for scaling a brand exists. We lead or co-lead almost all investment rounds to ensure the founder is focused on scaling their business. These two companies are ripe for expansion, and we’re excited to partner with them to support that growth.”
Founded by Alana Elliot in 2002, Libre Naturals is a Canada-based manufacturer of allergen-free foods, including granola bars, unbaked granolas and oatmeal cups. This summer, the company plans to launch a line of vegan protein bars made with whole grains, seeds, broad bean protein and healthy fats.
“Libre Naturals products are manufactured in our own facility and are free from the top 10 food allergens as well as gluten-free,” Ms. Elliot said. “We deliver delicious cereal and snacks that allergen sensitive consumers can trust. We are especially excited about our new protein bars that use 100% plant protein and have no soy or dairy protein.”
Libre Naturals products are poised to meet the expanding market for snack foods geared toward allergen sensitive consumers, said Andrew Towle, general partner of S CAP.
“Allergen sensitivity affects 8% of children — equating to 5.6 million households — and 11% of adults, one-third of whom are allergic to more than one food type,” Mr. Towle said. “In addition, self-diagnosed allergen sensitivity affects purchase decisions for food by as many as 15% of baby boomers, 21% of Gen Xers, and 28% of millennials. The growth in this segment is strong moving forward, and Libre Naturals is in a great position to deliver the tasty, allergen-free snacks that consumers are demanding.”
Libre Naturals products are currently available in select retailers in the United States and Canada as well as online. The company plans to use the new capital infusion to expand distribution and increase market efforts in schools and universities.
“If you have one allergen sensitive kid in your family, in your classroom or on your team, you must buy allergen-free snacks for the whole group,” Ms. Elliott said. “Most schools and universities purchase snack foods with allergen sensitivity in mind and commit to full allergen-free snack foods to ensure no risk of reaction from any of their students.”
S CAP’s second investment is Rockville, Md.-based Bright Greens, which was was founded by Brian Mitchell in 2015 as a solution to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into diets. The company offers four blends of frozen smoothie cubes made from fruits, vegetables and superfoods that may be made into smoothies by adding hot water in a shaker bottle. Bright Greens frozen smoothie cubes are available in four flavors: Bright Blueberry, Mintergreen, Peaches & Green and Pineapolis.
“What we appreciate about Bright Greens is its use of real fruits and vegetables instead of heavily processed powders that lack the nutrition of whole plants,” said Jim Cali, general partner of S CAP. “They flash freeze their smoothies immediately after blending for better nutrition. Finally, there’s the great convenience of no food waste or cleaning of kitchen equipment associated with traditional smoothie preparation from fresh or even frozen fruit.”
Kellogg Co.’s venture capital fund, eighteen94 capital, also has invested in Bright Greens. In June 2017, eighteen94 capital led a $2 million seed funding round for the company.
“The smoothie market is $4 billion and growing in the U.S. and projected to hit $17 billion globally by 2024, so this is a market ripe for disruption and innovation,” Mr. Cali said. “We’re pleased that eighteen94 capital has invested and is partnering with Bright Greens, too. We all believe Bright Greens has great potential to become an amazing company.”
Available in Whole Foods Market, Kroger and other natural food stores, Bright Greens expects to use the new funding to expand distribution across multiple retail channels over the next few months.