Coming off a $14 million venture capital raise, Minneapolis plant-based food brand Wicked Kitchen will now be available nationwide at Krogers, the nation's largest grocery chain.
Wicked Kitchen is also making its products available in Sprouts Farmers Market, which has more than 360 stores in the U.S.
The expansion will result in a sizable increase in sales revenue for the fairly new company, said Pete Speranza, the company's CEO, on Wednesday.
Created by chefs and brothers Derek Sarno and Chad Sarno, Wicked Kitchen first launched in 2018 in the United Kingdom in collaboration with U.K.-based grocery chain Tesco.
Wicked Kitchen is fairly small, with a virtual team of 16 people, said Speranza, who joined the company last September after 23 years with Golden Valley-based General Mills. Of the 16 people, 10 are in the U.S..
The company's Minneapolis headquarters is located in Finnovation Lab, the office space atop the Finnegans House building downtown, which includes the Finnegans Brew Co. brewery and taproom. Speranza suggested the company be based in Minneapolis due to the amount talent and resources within the city's robust food industry.
The U.S. branch of the company houses the company's leadership and operation teams, and sales and marketing efforts, while its U.K. location serves as the innovation hub. The company also has a small hub in Austin, Texas, and Speranza expects its U.S. team will be quite large compared to its U.K. market.
Cincinnati-based Kroger has over 2,800 store locations under various banners, which include Pick 'n Save, Kroger, Ralphs, Dillons and Metro Market, but does not operate in Minnesota.
With the U.S. expansion, Wicked Kitchen could experience a sales growth rate above 30% over next two to three years, Speranza said. The company's products fall into as many as nine grocery categories with Sprouts and Kroger, making it one of the largest launches in the U.S. grocery industry in decades.
With its fresh capital, the company will also expand outside the U.K into other parts of Europe.
Orchestrating the Kroger and Sprouts launch was about 10 months in the making, Speranza said, and the company has plans to expand product availability to more locations, including the Twin Cities, in the near future.
The company also is planning to launch online sales this fall, which would serve customers living in areas without a Krogers or Sprouts, Speranza said. The e-commerce strategy would be a combination of direct-to-consumer and availability through a platform like Amazon, Speranza said.
Speranza was previously business development lead for 301 Inc., the venture-capital arm of General Mills. Half of the investments he led with General Mills were in plant-based companies, "because we could see that's where consumers were heading." He called joining Wicked Kitchen "a chance of a lifetime."
"I really think this is the future of food and I want to make a huge impact," Speranza said.