Saffron Road eyes fundraise later this year
Saffron Road, the Stamford, Conn.-based maker of frozen international cuisine, aims to raise funds within the next year to invest in product expansion, its CEO Adnan Durrani tells Axios exclusively.
Why it matters: Following a pandemic boost, the frozen meal category is expected to continue to grow, particularly products that embrace global flavors and healthier ingredients.
- Ready-to-eat foods were cited by a number of CPG food companies as an area of focus at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference held in February.
Of note: Durrani spoke to Axios from the sidelines of the Natural Products Expo West annual trade show being held last week in Anaheim, California.
By the numbers: Saffron Road has about $60 million in sales and 20% growth year over year.
- A majority of the company is owned by private investors including deep-pocketed family offices located in Switzerland.
- The executive did not disclose the expected size of the fundraise.
Details: Fresh capital would finance the launch of new cuisines, expansion of existing ones, and let Saffron Road add breakfast and appetizers to its line, Durrani says.
- The brand is optimistic about its introduction of Moroccan-inspired meals, for example, and also sees an opportunity in Korean foods.
- Saffron Road already offers cuisine from regions such as South India, such as Madras curry with meatballs.
- The brand's products perform well with millennial consumers and the next target for the company is to improve its standing with Gen Z.
- While the company has some shelf-stable items, such as sauces, the frozen business is core, Durrani adds.
Between the lines: Saffron Road is benefiting from what Durrani describes as wanderlust via new cuisine as consumers increasingly enjoy trying food from around the world.
- As major CPG companies hunker down to focus on legacy products and flavors, he sees more whitespace opening up for his company in the ethnic aisle.
- He pointed to data that says that one-third of U.S. households bought an extra freezer during the pandemic, which suggests the adoption of frozen foods will continue as a sustainable trend long term.
The intrigue: "In my 30 years, I never saw frozen overtake fresh, and frozen overtook fresh by 230% the last year,” Durrani says.
Catch up fast: While the 12-year-old brand’s roots are in halal, aimed at the American Muslim consumer, Saffron Road's business model has always been to scale into mainstream retailers.
- The company has permission to expand into other cuisines tied to better-for-you meals that are clean label, Durrani says.
Flashback: In addition to being halal and non-GMO certified, Saffron Road was the first antibiotic-free frozen entree in Whole Foods as well as the first Humanely Certified Entrée in the world.
- It is also a certified B Corp.
The bottom line: The brand is at a point of critical mass and inflection, Durrani says.