Eating vegan gets easier everyday as food companies race to make plant-based products more convenient for consumers. Grocery stores offer Impossible Meat, Blue Apron sends Beyond Meat to subscribers’ homes and today, Hungryroot announced an increase in their variety of plant-based groceries by teaming up with several packaged food brands. Customers will be able to purchase both Hungryroot and partnering products online. And when they are delivered, buyers can make vegan meals within minutes.
“More products are becoming available to consumers,” Hungryroot CEO and founder Ben McKean said. The Hungryroot brand more or less remains the same, even with its changing gears. “The change is more partnering,” he said.
Thirty percent of Hungryroot’s weekly offerings will be from outside brands like Beyond Meat, Banza, RightRice, Field Roast and Kite Hill. The remaining 70% will still be Hungryroot product, nutrient-dense and mostly plant-based, and labeled as such.
The company began in 2015 as a food service delivering vegan and gluten-free meals that took seven minutes or less to prepare. Hungryroot has since repositioned itself as a personalized grocery service – with the likes of Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods – but committed to health and consumers’ preferences.
“Hungryroot’s premise has always been evolving groceries to meet what the modern consumer wants: foods that are more plant-based, healthy, nutrient dense, and have less additives,” said McKean.
At their start, Hungryroot had six products. Then they grew to over 30, but everything was manufactured themselves in a single facility in Queens housing over 20 production lines. The desire to expand their product line put stress on production and brought the company to having to shut down and reconfigure.
“We shut business down for six months starting in March 2017. With $22 million in refinancing, we’ve grown a lot since resuming. We’ve revamped our supply chain,” McKean shared.
Prior to the shutdown, Hungryroot did not have any partnerships. By the fall of 2017, they reopened having partnered with a dozen facilities that would manage different parts of production. With the revamp, the products were still of the Hungryroot brand and more than 50 and counting.
Now the company has 20 new brand partnerships going live.
When taking on new partners, Hungryroot looked for companies with comparably high nutritional standards, customer appeal, and a modern focus on sustainability. If a packaged and plant-based food delivers on all three accounts, they are a desirable addition for the Hungryroot “store.”
These partnership standards made Beyond Meat and other plant-based meats interesting candidates. The meat impersonating products are not health foods, per se. They are heavily processed and high in saturated fat. But in Hungryroot’s ballot, Beyond Meat was a write-in. McKean explained that the choice to take on Beyond Meat was largely driven by customers: “Thirty percent of our customers are vegan or vegetarian – which is much larger than the general population. Beyond Meat is filling a need.”
Plus, “What healthy means is very personal,” McKean pointed out. But with their own product, Hungryroot avoids additives, keeps ingredients pronounceable and ingredient lists short. “We create better for you packaged goods.”
McKean also shared with me that Hungryroot has plans to introduce its products to grocery stores. Look for their almond chickpea cookie dough and black bean brownie batter on the shelves early next year.