McCain Foods invests $55m in Strong Roots

An instinct that consumers want more from their food is paying off handsomely for Strong Roots founder Sam Dennigan.

Plant-based frozen food company Strong Roots has received a $55m investment from global food giant McCain Foods for a minority stake in the business.

The partnership enables Strong Roots and McCain Foods to continue meeting the rising consumer demand for healthy and natural food globally. 

“As food producers, our role is to be better, food can be better, and our duty is to lead the betterment of ingredients, sourcing, packaging, process and taste, at the same time as working with our partners to achieve this”

Strong Roots and McCain Foods will work together to leverage both companies’ complementary strengths to continue Strong Roots’ rapid growth and further its mission to “fix the freezer aisle” and provide plant-based, environmentally responsible, positive food choices, for everyone – globally and impactfully.

Rathmines-headquartered Strong Roots will continue to operate in an independent capacity. Partnering with Strong Roots, McCain Foods will gain an expanded product portfolio that reaches out to the rising number of consumers looking for healthy, natural and simple meals that are tasty and include real fruits and vegetables.

“Since the McCain family founded McCain Foods in 1957, our entrepreneurial roots and passionate focus on creating the best tasting food has led to us being at the centre of mealtimes for generations,” McCain Foods CEO Max Koeune said.

“That’s why we’re so excited to be partnering with Strong Roots, a company that not only aligns with our innovative approach to creating food, but also helps us grow our portfolio of healthier food that meets changing consumer demands in a sustainable way. We’re looking forward to working with Samuel and the Strong Roots team to help bring a healthy range into more homes across the world.”

It’s all in the roots

Man standing in warehouse.

Strong Roots founder Sam Dennigan

Founded in 2015 by Sam Dennigan, Strong Roots specialises in producing healthy, affordable frozen vegetable products such as kale and quinoa burgers and sweet potato fries.

Dennigan worked in his family’s fresh vegetable distribution business for more than a decade before striking out on his own.

He believed that consumers were becoming more adventurous in their tastes and wanted more than the usual meat and two veg options.

Strong Roots offers healthy, plant-based frozen food products, including cauliflower hash browns, mixed root vegetable fries, spinach bites, and kale & quinoa burgers. Its products are sold in over 8,000 stores worldwide including major retailers in Ireland, the UK, and the US, as well as Singapore, Iceland, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar. 

Dennigan’s hunch was on the money. The growth of plant-based foods is soaring; the market globally is expected to exceed $162bn by 2030, a 451% growth from 2020. In the US alone the plant-based food market is expected to reach $74.2bn in the next five years. US retail sales were up 27% in 2020 from the previous year, nearly double the growth rate of the total US retail food market. Tasty innovations in the sector mean the consumer can now combine their desire for convenience with their health and environmental consciousness.

Range of frozen food products from Strong Roots.

“As food producers, our role is to be better, food can be better, and our duty is to lead the betterment of ingredients, sourcing, packaging, process and taste, at the same time as working with our partners to achieve this,” Dennigan said.

“Working in partnership with McCain Foods means that we are able to grow our brand and the values it stands for, while providing us at Strong Roots with the resources and capabilities we need to see change globally and impactfully.”

The partnership also bolsters McCain Foods’ commitment to planet-friendly foods. Strong Roots is focused on creating products that are sustainably farmed, shipped and sold, and was the first Irish plant-based food business awarded a B Corp Certificate in 2020. 

In connection with the transaction, Goode Partners LLC, a New York-based consumer private equity fund, which led the Series A investment in Strong Roots, is exiting the Board of Strong Roots and selling its shareholding, marking a successful exit for the investors. 

For McCain Foods, the announcement complements a series of investments in recent years ensuring the leading food producer continues to meet the changing consumer tastes globally. Examples include its investment in The Simple Root, a plant-based food producer offering dairy alternative products, SIMULATE, a plant-based chicken nugget alternative, and GoodLeaf Farms, an indoor vertical farming company that grows nutritious, delicious and sustainable leafy greens.

“As a family-run business, we take a long-term approach to everything we do, whether that’s focusing on making our products in a sustainable way to support the planet, or ensuring our food continues to meet constantly changing consumer needs,” said Howard Snape, regional president of McCain GB and Ireland.

“Strong Roots is a company that not only focuses strongly on sustainability but is also doing incredible work to grow the range of healthy frozen foods available when consumers are looking for it most,” Snape said.

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.


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