After completing a round of funding led by food and beverage venture capital fund Boulder Food Group in March 2016, August Vega, founder and CEO of cold-pressed nut milk brand MALK Organics, confirmed in an interview with BevNET that the company was currently in the process of finalizing another round of investment.
“We are just a very lean and fiscally responsible company,” Vega said when asked about MALK’s measured approach towards seeking strategic investment. “We look at a lot of different factors when we are looking at if we want to take on a partner or if we have other vehicles or how exactly we want to fund the business. We’re not in any type of a hurry to raise a huge round of money. Our growth has already been substantial without taking on a lot of cash.”
MALK, founded in 2014 in Houston, Tex., markets a line of USDA certified organic, high-pressure processed (HPP) premium nut milks. Charting the company’s progress since the last fundraising round, Vega said the investment from Boulder Food Group, the size of which was not disclosed, helped MALK to grow seven times over. Having started 2016 in less than 1,000 retailers, the Houston, Tex.-based company announced in September it had landed national placement in 1,200 Kroger-owned stores for the brand’s three original SKUs — Pecan, Unsweetened Almond and Vanilla Almond.
Vega said distribution would continue to grow in 2017; this month, MALK entered into all 41 Sprouts Farmers Market locations in Texas, as well as select locations of H-E-B grocery stores in the state. Vega said the company would be expanding its presence in the Midwest, and promised a major announcement on new distribution at some point midway through the year.
MALK also announced in September that Whole Foods would serve as the incubator for all of the brand’s future line extensions.
According to Vega, those future innovations could potentially include some kind of protein-enhanced product, as well as several new nut milk varieties which are currently being worked on. MALK also recently partnered with Oakland-based coffee roastery and cafe chain Blue Bottle Coffee to create a special nut milk Barista Blend designed specifically for use by their baristas. Vega said the Blend, which will not be exclusive to Blue Bottle locations, was not an indication of a desire to enter the dairy-free coffee creamer market.
“We have so much room for growth where we are currently that I don’t see us jumping into the creamer game anytime soon,” Vega said.
Vega noted that the company’s growth strategy remains heavily focused on multi-serve and that it is looking to avoid expanding its RTD products beyond its cold brew coffee drink.
“We are definitely going in the direction of a few beverages that are not 100 percent allergens,” Vega said, joking that MALK would explore “some things that people with allergies can actually drink.” “I think there’s a lot of movement in yogurts and probiotics and in the digestive health area in general, and a lot of players are jumping into that. So we are probably going to dig deep in our roots before we jump into that because it’s a really hot area right now and it’s a fist fight to the shelf.”