- Vegan food startup Strong Roots has secured a deal to sell its products in more than 2,000 Walmart stores.
- Plant-based food in the US was worth $5 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $31.6 billion worldwide by 2026.
- COVID-19 has led to a shift in attitudes towards healthier alternatives amid a rise in home cooking.
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The boom in vegan food continues with Irish startup Strong Roots agreeing a deal to sell its frozen vegan products into the world’s largest grocer, Walmart.
Strong Roots is following in the footsteps of big plant-based food and drink companies such as Oatly and Beyond Meat in winning around the biggest food retailer. The deal involves selling two of Strong Roots’ best-selling products — mixed veg fries and cauliflower hash browns — into more than 2,000 stores.
The move comes as COVID-19 causes a fresh demand for healthy alternatives, with families increasingly forced to cook at home during lockdown. The vegan food market is set to reach $31.4 billion by 2026, according to Allied Market Research.
Strong Roots, founded out of Ireland in 2015 with operations in the UK and US, previously secured $18.3 million in Series A funding from private equity firm Goode Partners.
“Being alongside Oatly and Beyond Meat in the world’s biggest retailer is a great accolade,” Samuel Dennigan, founder and CEO of Strong Roots, told Business Insider. “Walmart wants to bring a new type of shopper to the store and we want to get more veggies on your plate.”
While vegan food is becoming more popular, the move away from meat won’t happen overnight, according to Dennigan. He pointed to the Trump administration invoking the Defense Production Act to protect the country’s three-largest meat producers during the coronavirus pandemic.
And vegan brands, as they gain popularity, are in for greater scrutiny.
Alternative milk brand Oatly was lambasted on social media for its $200 million deal with private equity group Blackstone, headed by Trump donor Stephen Schwartzman.
Strong Roots anticipates that it will hit $100 million in sales by 2023 and the startup has been expanding its C-suite to complement its growth, Dennigan said.
Negotiations with Walmart began in late 2019. Walmart’s e-commerce sales also grew 97% in Q2 on the back of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The US market is very difficult to break into but everyone is willing us on,” Dennigan said. “This deal backs the ambition and commitment of where we’re going next and distribution with Walmart can help make us a global success.”