Clean label

Fresh Start accelerator targets clean label, plant-based disruptors

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

The Fresh Factory was instrumental in Field + Farmer's foray into the refrigerated snack bar space in January 2022. Pic: The Fresh Factory
The Fresh Factory was instrumental in Field + Farmer's foray into the refrigerated snack bar space in January 2022. Pic: The Fresh Factory

Related tags The Fresh Factory Clean label plant-based produce accelerator

The Fresh Factory has launched Fresh Start, an accelerator programme designed to pioneer the next gen of disruptors creating better-for-you products made with recognisable ingredients.

According to the mission-driven company, the accelerator will help scale up brands by leveraging its farm-to-shelf, vertically integrated platform. The Fresh Factory has helped dozens of companies build their brands, becoming a growth partner in everything from crafting go-to-market strategies to e-commerce capabilities. The Chicago, US-based agency provides guidance, actionable information and introductions across formulation, production, and finance.

“Fresh Start’s robust 12-week programme answers the demand for an all-inclusive approach to launching and scaling businesses in the fresh, clean label and plant-based food and beverage space,”​ said Bill Besenhofer, CEO and cofounder of The Fresh Factory.

“Our innovative production capabilities and operational expertise are backed by top-tier strategic advisors who are aligned with our mission to accelerate sustainable food.

“We are passionate about bringing healthy and delicious ideas to life and are excited to propel the brands of tomorrow.”

Are you eligible?

The Fresh Factory is looking for applicants that can present extraordinary ideas within the following categories:

Fresh ingredients and clean label. “We have deep expertise with fresh ingredients (produce) and extensive refrigerated production and distribution capacity. The cleaner the ingredient list, the better, but no worries if not – we’ll help you get it there.”

Plant-based: “We do not handle or work with meat in any capacity. We have worked with dairy but increasingly help brands eliminate it from their recipes.”

Distribution: “We want to see some distribution that shows initial traction and a credible plan to expand across stores and channels.”

Passionate: “We look for passionate entrepreneurs with novel products who we’re excited to work alongside.”

The programme

Fresh Start

Standout brands may also get the opportunity to receive funding from The Fresh Factory to take their idea to the next level.

For brands with less than $1m in sales over the past 12 months (the trailing twelve months, or TTM), The Fresh Factory could offer $125,000 in services in exchange for a 7% equity position, with the investment taking the form of a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE).

For brands with more than $1M in TTM sales, The Fresh Factory will consider investing services worth $125k-$250k in exchange for a negotiated equity position.

Beyond The Fresh Factory, successful programme applicants could also receive support from a notable network of other strategic advisors.

These include private equity firm Valor Siren Ventures (previous investments include Misfits Market, Lesser Evil and Atmosphere); seed-stage fund Barrel Ventures (investments include Olipop, Pod Foods and Grabango), investment strategists Listen Ventures (Factor – acquired by HelloFresh – Calm and Public Goods) and venture capital firm GreatPoint Ventures (Beyond Meat, Farmer’s Fridge and Hero Foods).

The list of top advisers continues, with RCV Frontline, which manages a venture fund that combines the investment expertise of RCV Partners and the operational expertise of JPG Resources (investments include Lemon Perfect, A Dozen Cousins and The Good Crisp); and SloFIG, a network of accredited independent investors who share the mission to re-establish a sustainable food system across the Chicago foodshed (KitchFix, Local Foods and Fillo’s).

Past recipients

Previous brands to have benefitted from The Fresh Factory’s know-how include Element Pressed, a range of functional-focused (vitality, glow, immunity, defence) cold-pressed juices specifically developed for Whole Foods; and Field + Farmer’s foray into the refrigerated snack space with clean label, low sugar, plant-based bars.

“We entered the refrigerated better-for-you snack bar market last year with the acquisition of Phyter Bars and see a significant opportunity for The Fresh Factory to grow in this category,”​ said Besenhofer at the January 2022 launch.

“With our flexible manufacturing facility and expertise in clean label, plant-based food and beverage products, we believe we are well positioned with these expanded capabilities. In addition to Field + Farmer’s bar launch, we’ve launched other bar products with a number of our existing customers since the acquisition. We are now routinely doing multiples of the volume each month compared to before the acquisition, which validates the strength of our model.”

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