Snack maker Quinn secures $10M to fuel growth and innovation

Dive Brief:

  • Quinn, a manufacturer of popcorn, chips and pretzels, secured $10 million in a Series B round of funding led by NewRoad Capital Partners, a growth equity firm. It was joined by existing investors Boulder Food Group, Echo Capital and Sunil Thakor.
  • The funding will support growth, product innovation and Quinn’s sustainability mission focused on regenerative agriculture, the company said.
  • The fast-growing food maker, which has benefited as consumers snack more, attracted the interest last fall of investors including sweets and snacking giant Hershey. The Reese’s and Skor bar maker had previously invested an undisclosed amount.

Dive Insight:

In its release announcing the latest $10 million funding round, Quinn touted it has posted 60% growth in revenue year over year since 2019. The company said it was now the top driver of growth in the pretzel subcategory and the No. 5 largest driver of growth in the entire salty snack category in both the natural channel and Whole Foods Market. Last fall, Quinn was carried in more than 7,500 stores nationwide, and now it tops 10,000 locations.

Those numbers are enough to grab the attention of investors looking for places to put their money at a time when the stock market is near a record high and interests rates are low. It’s not hard to see why Quinn is growing and investors want in. 

Consumers are snacking more than ever, with salty snacks and other bite-sized items replacing meals in many cases. Quinn also benefits from the fact that it aims to support and work with agricultural partners who are taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint. According to a 2018 study from Nielsen, almost half of U.S. consumers said they were likely to change what they buy to align with environmental standards.  

In addition, Quinn has prioritized offering details about its ingredients, growers and suppliers on its website since it was founded in 2010. Countless other brands like organic foods maker One Degree Organics have latched on to traceability, too.

Mondelēz International said in June that consumers purchasing its Triscuit brand will be able to trace the journey of the white-winter wheat baked into some of its Triscuit crackers from a co-op of farmers’ fields in Michigan to where the product is made. The fact that a snacking giant like Mondelēz is incorporating traceability into one of its biggest brands highlights the value it plays for consumers, and how brands such as Quinn were at the forefront of this trend. 

The many attributes tied to Quinn’s products attracted the interest of Hershey, which invested an undisclosed amount in the company last October. Hershey, which took a small stake, was joined by existing investors. There was no mention in the current announcement of new participation by Hershey.

Quinn’s popcorn, pretzels and other snacks are bound to eventually attract the interest of a deep-pocked private equity firm or a big company eager to add the upstart’s offerings to its own portfolio.

Hershey, which purchased the parent of popcorn brand SkinnyPop in 2017, would be a logical buyer given its familiarity with Quinn and CEO Michele Buck’s goal to transform her company into a “snacking powerhouse.” Mondelēz has been buying better-for-you brands for several years in a bid to cement its dominance in snacking and could consider making a play.

Campbell Soup spent roughly $5 billion to acquire the manufacturer of popular snack brands such as Pop Secret, Kettle, Cape Cod and Emerald three years ago. And PepsiCo’s snacking behemoth Frito-Lay, which has been boosting its portfolio of healthier offerings through M&A with brands like PopCorners and Bare, remains a possible buyer as well.

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