‘Investors have started to really see the potential in our sector:’ Alt milk start-up Sproud celebrates fund raise
Sproud launched in Sweden in 2018 and has since expanded to 15 markets. The product, which uses split peas to create a drink that closely resembles dairy milk, is available across the UK via supermarkets and online retailers such as Waitrose, Ocado, and Amazon, in addition to various independent shops, cafés, and restaurants. It has received the backing of venture capitalist VGC Partners at a valuation of £10m. To-date, the company has raised £8.7m.
The fund raise illustrates the growing investor interest in the alt milk sector, Maria Tegman, CEO and co-founder of Sproud, told FoodNavigator.
“I believe this investment is indicative of a wider trend where investors have started to really see the potential in our sector as crucial to impact investing, which has been on the rise for some years,” she said.
In addition to backing Sproud, VGC Partners, founded in 2011 by its managing partner, Parminder Basran, has recently invested in innovative food and beverage brands like JUST, which makes a plant-based alternative to eggs, and Ugly Drinks, a producer of zero-sugar sparkling water and energy drinks.
Sproud claims to create products with a taste, texture, and nutritional profile that closely resembles dairy milk via through a unique, proprietary blend of protein from yellow split peas, GMO-free oils and syrups, fortified with essential vitamins.
“One key advantage is the neutral taste of the yellow split peas, which has made it possible for us to closely match the taste of dairy milk, and this is something we think is important to appeal to a wide range of customers,” Tegman said.
She added that when compared to oat milk, Sproud’s products contain double the amount of protein, and five times more than the amount of protein found in almond milk. “Our ‘Unsweetened’ milk is made with zero sugar, and our other products are sweetened with agave syrup, meaning that Sproud’s pea-milk also contains significantly less sugar than most other types of alt-milks.”
Meanwhile, the production of peas uses minimal water, land, and carbon, making it a far more sustainable option than milk made from for example almond or rice, she claimed. “Pea cultivation also adds nutrients back into the soil which further adds to the sustainability of the production.”
Where will Sproud find the required amount of peas to support its expansion plans? “We collaborate with some incredible farmers in France to grow the yellow split peas for our distribution in the UK and Europe,” we were told. “Sproud products that are distributed in North America have previously been made from European peas, but will now be containing yellow split peas grown in Canada. We are constantly growing our networks of partners in all regions where we expand, and feel confident that we have sufficient supply to expand significantly in all markets.”
Nicklas Jungberg, co-founder and Chairman of the Board at Sproud added: “We are really pleased to have the backing of VGC on our mission to create the best tasting, and most sustainable plant-based offering on the market. We have reached a stage where most people are now aware of the positive impacts that swapping dairy for vegan substitutes would have on our planet and health.”
“What’s left is for consumers to truly act on this, but we don’t think forcing people to change their food preferences is the way forward. By matching the tastes that they are used to, and the nutritional content typically provided through dairy products, we know that we can make a huge impact, and with the support of Parminder and his incredible team, we feel confident that positive change can now be achieved faster, and on a much greater scale.”