- Cultured foods brand Good Culture has announced a $64 million Series C funding round led by Manna Tree, with participation from SEMCAP Food & Nutrition and actress Kristen Bell.
- The company said the funding will help it scale its manufacturing capabilities and support its expansion into new nutrient-dense product lines in the cultured foods space.
- Good Culture, credited with reviving interest in cottage cheese among younger consumers, could bring its clean-label, better-for-you focus to new cultured food products such as yogurt and kefir.
Good Culture’s latest large funding round can be attributed to its disruptive ability to renew interest in cottage cheese, once a 1970s diet staple, and rebrand it as a trendy food item among millennials. Nielsen data cited by Food Navigator found that Good Culture was the only cottage cheese brand in recent years to attract younger demographics.
Portable single-use portions of cottage cheese with added health benefits like probiotics and different flavors have been factors in Good Culture’s success. Outside of plain cottage cheese, Good Culture’ offers varieties like blueberry, pineapple, strawberry and peach, which puts it in close proximity to yogurt products on grocery shelves.
The company quickly began to find success following a $2.1 million funding round in 2016 that included General Mills’ venture capital unit, 301 Inc., which took interest in the brand because of its low-sugar and high-protein cottage cheese. These elements have continued to attract interest in recent years, and have helped the company amass $81.8 million in total funds thus far, according to Crunchbase.
Co-founder and CEO Jesse Merrill said that his vision for the company was to create food with functional benefits in order to help with an autoimmune disease, ulcerative colitis, that he was diagnosed with. A desire to develop products with health benefits, as well as utilizing sustainable practices like regenerative farming, continue to drive the ambitions of Good Culture, a certified B Corp.
“We are evolving from a cottage cheese and sour cream brand to a healing cultured foods company, and this new round of funding will help propel our efforts to create positive food system change,” said Merrill.
There are several different cultured dairy categories Good Culture could potentially enter, including yogurt, kefir, crème fraîche, cream cheese and buttermilk. The yogurt category is especially competitive, with giants like Chobani and Oikos dominating. But if Good Culture is looking to enter, it already has brand recognition in the dairy aisle and a health-conscious profile among consumers who might want to try something new. Some benefits that could help the brand stand out include its inclusion of active cultures and probiotics for gut health, along with its avoidance of artificial ingredients or added hormones. Good Culture, which launched lactose-free cottage cheese and sour cream in 2021, could also join brands like Activia and So Delicious in selling yogurt that does not contain the milk sugar.
Having a celebrity investor in Kristen Bell, a “superfan” of the brand, also reinforces the more trendy public image of cottage cheese that Good Culture has cultivated. By positing its cultured foods products in the realm of health and wellness, and with Bell’s support, Good Culture has the ability to expand its reach to even more younger consumers that increasingly care about the benefits of the foods that they purchase.