Plant-based food startup Tattooed Chef recently announced it will be undertaking a reverse merger with the special purpose acquisition company Forum Merger II (NYSE: FMCI).
Ever since the news was announced, shares have run up over 60%. Tattooed Chef offers products for vegetarians, vegans and individuals who are conscious about their health. They are a new company with plans to grow across the United States.
Benzinga spoke with the Tattooed Chef’s founder Sarah Galletti for a better understanding of the company.
Benzinga: What is your vision? What do you want to create with Tattooed Chef? Tattooed Chef focuses on “better for the planet” foods — how do you achieve that?
Galletti: Tattooed Chef offers a wide range of products to consumers searching for ways to introduce plant-based foods into their daily lives.
We are an all-inclusive brand, meaning we encourage those who aren’t strictly vegan to participate in a plant-based lifestyle — at their own pace and in their own way.
It’s an inviting approach and connects to a larger group of consumers. With one of our goals being to minimize the amount of meat consumed, this concept is everlasting and truly becomes a lifestyle. We can create many types of food products that cover many different categories because of our all-inclusive approach. Our mission is to use ingredients that are sustainable and ethically sourced.
When we say we’re farm-to-table, we mean it. Most of our ingredients come from Italy, where we contract the fields and plant our own crops. We handle the supply chain of our food, from the fields, through production to the consumers’ hands.
BZ: How does Tattooed Chef create recipes? What type of desserts are you looking into? What type of products do you plan to focus on — plant-based meats, or other food products?
Galletti: The product development cycle is all handled in-house. We are aligned and often lead major food trends, therefore we continuously create new and fresh products.
I’ll usually gain inspiration by listening to music or drawing and then come up with an idea, ingredient or flavor profile. That inspiration leads to the conceptualization of how to produce the new product.
From there, we present these concepts and products to various retail buyers. After collecting feedback and refining our items, we commercialize the process to begin mass production. We work closely with our retail partners and align with their specific needs to fill their shelves with plant-based innovations.
The focus of our growth strategy is to expand and increase distribution with new and existing customers. We will also continue to expand our product line across many categories within frozen food, which is a $55-billion industry in the U.S. today and a $380-billion industry globally.
We have over 100 new concepts and recipes in various development stages that have yet to be announced or released.
BZ: Why do you think we are seeing a shift to more plant-based diets?
Galletti: Consumers desire to eat cleaner and healthier food and see the environmental impact they can make by consuming fewer animal products. I also think, more than ever, consumers have a better understanding of nutrition and health. We’re overall becoming more aware.
BZ: A lot of plant-based food companies focus on high protein, flavor, healthy lifestyle or environment. What is the main intention behind Tattooed Chef’s products?
Galletti: We focus on all those things as well. We are also one of the only plant-based brands that have created a line of products to embrace the lifestyle. Consumers could stock their freezers with just Tattooed Chef products and have food ready for every meal, snack and side dish throughout the day and not get tired of mundane or uninspired products.
Making products that are great-tasting is one of our fortes. From our innovation and understanding of ingredients to our management and production team, we can take an idea and make a delicious finished product for the masses.
BZ: What is the competitive advantage of Tattooed Chef? What separates Tattooed Chef from other plant-based foods brands?
Galletti: We believe two of our biggest competitive advantages are our innovative offerings, which cover an extensive range of multiple food categories, and our ability to pivot based on consumer trends and demands.
Additionally, we believe our unique branding and mission — to produce sustainable and ethically sourced foods — appeals to younger consumers who are our primary demographic. Also, our strong relationships and track record of success with large retailers position us as a go-to strategic partner for plant-based innovation, which protects our brand positioning from new entrants.
BZ: What are your thoughts on being a publicly-traded company? What do you plan on using the money for?
Sarah Galletti: We believe we are in the early stages of Tattooed Chef’s growth and will continue to build brand awareness, expand distribution with new and existing customers, launch innovative products and invest in our infrastructure to capitalize on the global plant-powered food market. We believe going public will help with all of the above.
BZ: What is your strategy for pursuing private label partnerships? Tattooed Chef is in 7% of Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMT) stores and you said that you plan to be in 50%. What will Tattooed Chef be focused on: the main brand or private label?
Galletti: We started in private label, and after some time, the Tattooed Chef brand was introduced into the market. While we continue to have strong roots servicing private label customers, our focus is on growing the Tattooed Chef brand.
Based on our current projections, we believe branded sales to be between 60%-65% of our total net sales by 2021. We believe the growth of branded products will continue to outpace private label offerings in the future.
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