The company has formed a strategic partnership with Profile Capital, a US-based family-owned investment fund. The tie-up will see Profile Capital invest €18.5m (£17m) in Little Dish.
The current owners, chief executive Dean Brown and founder Hillary Graves, will retail “significant ownership” in the company. Brown and Graves will also continue to run the business, which was founded in 2006.
Little Dish supplies healthy foods aimed at toddlers to UK supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose.
The company manufactures chilled meals, pies, pizzas and soups, as well as shelf-stable snacks. It has expanded its offering further into the ambient space, with the launch of “kitchen cupboard essentials” such as baked beans and spaghetti hoops that contain less sugar and salt than mainstream branded and private label alternatives.
Little Dish’s big opportunity
Little Dish provides foods that are specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of toddlers and young children.
“Little Dish is the market leader in toddler food and there is a tremendous opportunity for further growth in the UK and abroad,” Graves told FoodNavigator.
In order to capitalise on this potential, Little Dish decided to “proactively” seek external investment. The cash will be used to “drive brand awareness and customer penetration into the category”, as well as supporting future innovation efforts.
Little Dish will also use the investment to fund the company's entry into the US. “Little Dish will become the first brand in the US to offer fresh, chilled meals for toddlers,” Graves claimed.
Little Dish said Profile Capital’s expertise will give it a leg up in the US. “Profile Capital is a Chicago-based family office that brings significant additional resources to Little Dish including growth capital, key strategic relationships and knowledge of the US market,” the group's founder noted.
According to research from Packaged Facts, 46% of US parents list nutritional value as the “most important” factor when choosing foods for their children. “But it’s about a lot more than just health: convenience, pricing, usage occasion flexibility and packaging are among key factors shaping food and beverage categories for kids,” the researchers note.
Little Dish believes its product proposition leaves it well-placed to meet this need in the US. “Busy families are looking for truly healthy, convenient solutions for their young families… Little Dish’s entry into the US [will] further deliver on the company’s mission to provide nutritious food to as many families as possible.”