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Gabriella’s Kitchen Ramps Up U.S. Focus, Tio Debuts in CA

Carol Ortenberg

While Gabriella’s Kitchen may be known for their “skinny pasta,” their sales will be anything but thin after a round of growth with major retailers. The Canadian line of better-for-you fresh pasta and frozen entrees is expanding across the U.S., adding over a thousand doors this month.

Speaking to NOSH from the KeHe Natural Show, the company expounded on what has led to this recent growth spurt.

“Our products are resonating with consumers and retailers because they are filling a void,” Micallef told NOSH via email. “Consumers want high-protein products that are nutritious, delicious, affordable and convenient. They’re looking for foods with clean ingredients, great taste, low calories and low glycemic impact, without added sugar and most common allergens. Our products check those boxes — and there aren’t many products that do.”

Inspired by their own quest to find better-for-you Italian options, sisters Gabriella and Margot Micallef founded the company in 2007. When Gabriella passed away from cancer, Micallef continued on with the company in her sister’s honor. The company shifted to a CPG focus in 2014 and entered the U.S. market in 2015. In Canada, the brand is sold in most major retailers, including Whole Foods Market, Loblaws, Sobeys and Safeway which has resulted in sales doubling year-over-year since 2014.

In the U.S market this month, the brand added 250 Vons and Pavillion stores in Southern California, and 800 Publix locations. Both lines retail at an MSRP of $5.99.

Micallef said the retail growth is just the start, adding that the company will expand to Sprouts, Central Market and Meijer over the next year. Micallef told NOSH the transition to the U.S. has been smooth, with little difference between U.S and Canadian retailers and consumers. “If anything,” she added, “we’ve found that the U.S. is more aggressive on picking up our products.”

The expansion doesn’t just stop with retailers. Gabriella’s Kitchen plans to rebrand its “skinnypasta” as “Noodi,” with Pinterest-eque, quirky packaging. The revised packaging is expected to launch at the start of 2018. While Micallef and her family have invested “millions” in the company, the brand also recently closed a $3 million round of funding from “high net worth individuals” and plans to take on additional capital in the year to come to fund its growth, which is even faster than expected.

“We’re excited about the explosive growth of our skinnypasta high protein meals in the U.S.,” Micallef said. “We knew that plant-based proteins were underserved in the pasta category and we are loving the frenzy we’re causing with our unique products.”

Here are some other distribution wins we’re taking a look at:

Tio Gazpacho Debuts in California

Chilled Soup brand Tio Gazpacho has gone west with the addition of Whole Foods Market’s Northern California region. The addition is not only Tio’s first retailer in California, but also marks the first Whole Foods Market region to pick up the brand in all of its stores.

The addition of NorCal Whole Foods brings Tio’s distribution to 1000 stores nationwide. Founder Austin Allan told NOSH that the West Coast has been a particular focus for the company. Developed by Allan after a trip to Spain, the brand previously closed a $1.25 million series A round from General Mills’s venture arm, 301 Inc, and counts chef Jose Andres as a partner in the company.

“We are really excited about this launch as we have had our sights on the West Coast for some time now,” Allan said. “As the largest market in the country for natural foods, California is a perfect fit for Tio Gazpacho. We feel that California consumers, with their busy lifestyles and focus on better-for-you foods, will love our line of all natural chilled soups.”

The Good Crisp Goes to College & Circle K

Global Potato Chip brand The Good Crisp has added 300 Circle K stores as well as 170 Barnes and Noble college bookstores. In addition, Natural Grocers has also picked up the line, Wegman’s also plans to expand the brand’s presence from 45 locations to chain-wide and Whole Foods has agreed to pick up the line in several regions following upcoming category resets.

The growth doesn’t stop there. By January 2018, the brand expects to be in roughly 2,000 retailers and have over $5 million in annual sales.

“It’s been a crazy ride but we are trying to remain strategic and controlled. It is important as a self-funded business that we control our cash flow, stock levels and strive for bottom line profit,” Matthew Parry, COO and cofounder of The Good Crisp, told NOSH. “Distribution is one thing, but we want to have long term sustainable distribution that works for us, the retailer and mostly importantly our customers.”

Sesame King Adds Major Retailers

Sesame King has added numerous retailers, including Shaw’s, King’s Supermarkets, Balducci’s, Safeway and Albertsons, to sell their branded line of natural tahini paste. The retailers represent a variety of geographic regions and help the company with its expansion nationwide.

The brand currently has seven flavors of tahini paste, all of which are gluten free and kosher. Sesame King also recently released a “Mix and Serve” kit which gives consumers all the ingredients needed to produce hummus at home.

Cocomels Brings Sweet Treats to Cost Plus World Market

Confectionary brand Cocomels has been added to shelves nationwide of World Market. The international-themed retailer has picked up the brand’s coconut-milk caramels in sea salt and vanilla. Currently the placement is seasonal.

The line of treats is sold in 3,000 retailers including Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, Kroger and Wegmans.

Wize Monkey Launches in U.S.

Coffee Leaf Tea company, Wize Monkey, is launching into the U.S. The brand, which has been sold in Canada since its launch five years ago, will now be found in more than 300 U.S.-based stores.

The additions include Sprouts Farmers Market in 15 states across 285 locations, as well as Whole Foods Market in the Northern California region.

“It’s been nearly 5 years of crafting the best method to make our award-winning Coffee Leaf Tea and the work is finally paying off,” cofounder and CEO, Max Rivest, said in a statement. “Retailers are recognizing the amazing taste that our product offers as well as the rising consumer demand across the U.S. and globally.”

The highlights:

  • Back to the Roots has expanded its relationship with Home Depot. The brand has been picked up by roughly 200 more locations, for a total of over 1,200 Home Depot locations stocking the brand’s mushroom farms, herb growing kits and water gardens.
  • My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream has expanded its distribution with Wegmans. The line of frozen mochi is now sold in over 6,000 stores.
  • Atlanta, Georgia based Tru-Nut will launch its newest product, Peanut Flour, in all Publix across the Southeast. The new baking item allows consumers to add plant-based protein to their favorite baked goods.
  • Teatulina’s line of “garden to cup” teas is now sold in 400 Stop & Shop locations across New York and New England as well as Midwest retailers Cash Wise and Coborn’s.

Meagan McGinnes contributed to this report.

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