Purely Elizabeth raises $50M for expansion


Dive Brief:

  • Natural granola, oatmeal and baking mix company Purely Elizabeth closed a $50 million Series B funding round. The round was co-led by Seminal Capital Holdings Food & Nutrition division, Swander Pace Capital and Fresh Del Monte.
  • The funds will be used to drive growth through product innovation, e-commerce and marketing investments. The company said it plans to expand its existing SKUs in nutrient-dense breakfast food categories, as well as launch into a yet-to-be-announced category. 
  • As more people have been homebound and seeking nutritious breakfasts during the pandemic, Purely Elizabeth has seen its sales soar, increasing at a 55% compound annual growth rate, according to the company.

Dive Insight:

Purely Elizabeth, founded in 2009 by nutritional counselor Elizabeth Stein, has slowly risen with wellness trends and attracted both consumers’ attention and investors’ funds. The company’s take on nutrition has paid off. In the last four years, according to the company, Purely Elizabeth has nearly doubled the number of retailers carrying the products — from 8,000 in 2018 to 15,000 in 2021.

This funding round, which increases the money Purely Elizabeth has raised more than 16-fold, will help the company continue its more recent growth trajectory. And while the three lead funders in this round are all new investors, they are not all new to Purely Elizabeth. SemCap Food & Nutrition’s managing partner, John Haugen, first noticed Purely Elizabeth’s potential when he was vice president and general manager of 301 Inc., General Mills’ venture arm. Haugen and Ryan Newcom, a partner on SemCap Food & Nutrition and co-founder of 301 Inc., have been on Purely Elizabeth’s board since 2016, the company said. In 2017, 301 Inc. invested $3 million in Purely Elizabeth.

The investment is the first for SemCap’s new Food & Nutrition division, which will strive to invest in mission-driven companies that strive to improve health and sustainability that have a track record of success, according to the statement.

When Purely Elizabeth was founded, Stein hadn’t intended to start a food business. As a New York City nutritionist trying to drum up more business, she gave out muffins she’d made from a nutritious mix she devised at a race, she told Entrepreneur in 2018. She didn’t sign up any clients, but many participants asked where they could buy the muffins. She pivoted into granola about a year and a half later, after receiving positive reviews on a recipe she’d tossed together.

The granola, which still uses its original recipe, was the product that helped Purely Elizabeth take off. According to the company, Purely Elizabeth currently has the top-selling granola in the natural channel. As the company’s sales and name recognition have grown, the brand has expanded into oatmeal, pancake and waffle mixes, and body scrubs.

Purely Elizabeth’s clean-label breakfast options fit into several rising trends among today’s consumers. A study published last year by the International Food Information Council found that almost two-thirds of consumers seek out food made from clean ingredients. Though there is no real consensus on what that term means, many consumers agree these are non-chemical-sounding ingredients that they can recognize. A 2018 study from Innova found that 91% of consumers thought items made with recognizable ingredients are healthier.

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