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Ithaca Hummus is seeking strategic investor

Sep 18, 2023
A stack of containers of Ithaca-branded hummus.

Photo: Courtesy of Ithaca Hummus

Ithaca Hummus plans to raise funding in the eight-figure range from a strategic investor in exchange for a minority equity stake, CEO Chris Kirby tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: The hummus brand is at a growth inflection point and plans to "hit the gas" on expanding into new channels with new retailers, the CEO says.

Details: Ithaca is having multiple conversations with potential partners, and is likely to transact within the next six months, Kirby says.

  • Partners could include another company, brand, manufacturer, or someone in the supply chain or on the brand side.
  • Capital would be reinvested in the business, not to cash out existing investors, he says.
  • Kirby, employees, friends and family are all on the cap table as well as private-label food manufacturer LiDestri Food and Beverage, who are all meaningful equity holders.

Of note: The company is not working with an investment bank, but it has engaged valuation experts.

By the numbers: Ithaca Hummus generates about $40 million in retail sales and its combined annual growth rate over the last two years is 40%.

  • It is in about 8,000 stores, including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Publix, Stop & Shop, Hannaford and Wegman's, among others.

What they're saying: "What's worked for us is keeping our investor pool very small and very strategic," Kirby says.

  • "What we don't want to do is go out and raise a Series A and a Series B and a Series C. We're writing our own story," he says.
  • "The most strategic decision that we can make is to keep that investor pool really tight," Kirby says.
  • "We don't want venture money and private equity that's just going to write a check and expect us to show up for quarterly board meetings," he adds.

What's next: Next year the company would like to get into mass channels like Walmart and Target and in club channels such as Costco, Sam's Club and BJ's, and is having active conversations there.

  • It is now launching a new line of salsas in Kroger.

Flashback: Kirby, a former chef, wanted to change careers, but stay in the food industry.

  • He decided to start his own business and picked hummus because it was a large addressable market in need of innovation.
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