Ripple Foods, maker of a new line of pea protein-powered, plant-based milks, is rolling out into Whole Foods Markets nationwide this month.
The Emeryville, Calif.-based brand is the brainchild of founders Neil Renninger, co-founder and former chief technology officer at Amyris Biotechnologies, and Adam Lowry, co-founder of sustainable cleaning products company Method.
Renninger discussed the genesis of the company in a call with BevNET last week, saying the idea for Ripple first came about in 2014, out of he and Lowry’s mutual interest in addressing social and environmental problems through business and filling a gap in the dairy alternative category.
“When we looked at our food chain and the impact on climate it has, we saw that the part with the most CO2 emissions is the dairy industry,” Renninger said. “But when we started looking at the existing plant-based milks, they didn’t meet the nutrition benefits of traditional dairy milk. To us that screamed for something new, something innovative that could solve this problem we saw in the market. You have people that want to switch from dairy for a variety of reasons but don’t have the high quality product to switch to.”
Ripple boasts eight grams of pea-based protein per 8 oz. serving, compared to the 0-1 grams of protein per serving typically found in nut-based dairy alternatives. Ripple’s packaging also claims the product has 50 percent more calcium than milk and 32 mg of DHA Omega-3 fatty acids.
“40 percent of alternative milk drinkers say they think it’s a good source of protein, which is fascinating because 80 percent of the market are really not,” Renninger added. “This is a category where the field is ripe for consumer education and we want to be delivering that message.”
Ripple has debuted in four varieties – Original, Original Unsweetened, Vanilla and Chocolate – with a suggested retail price of $4.99 per multiserve 48 oz. bottle. The initial launch at Whole Foods will run through the end of July, at which point the brand will begin its entry into 1,600 Target stores nationwide through the retail giant’s “Made to Matter” program. Renninger said that while he expects Ripple to perform strongly in the natural channel, it’s targeting the mainstream consumer.
“Our goal wasn’t to make a product that only speaks to natural channel buyers,” Renninger said. “We’re in this for massive impact and if we want to do that we need to get this product to everybody.”
In December The Wall Street Journal reported that Ripple had raised $13.6 million in a round led by San Francisco venture capital fund Prelude Ventures that also saw contributions from Khosla Ventures, Blueberry Ventures and Eagle Cliff Partners. Individual investors who participated in the round included Stonyfield Farms co-founder Gary Hirshberg and Honest Tea co-founder Seth Goldman, who in 2015 stepped away from his day-to-day role at Honest to become chairman of Beyond Meat, another plant-based protein food startup.
Renninger said that to date, Ripple’s funding has gone into product development and that the company will now look to allocate its resources towards sampling and demo efforts.