General Mills, the cereal maker behind Cheerios and Lucky Charms, has got a craving for kale chips.
Plant-based snacking startup Rhythm Superfoods on Tuesday announced that it closed on a $6 million Series D financing round that was led by 301 Inc., the venture capital arm of General Mills (gis). It was the second time that General Mills had invested in the company, having participated in a $3 million fundraising round about a year ago. CircleUp Growth Fund was an investor in both series, while Blueberry Ventures was a new VC investor in the Series D round.
"We are elated with our new investment from 301 INC and look forward to continuing this strategic partnership and seeing what we can accomplish for the brand together," said Scott Jensen, CEO of Rhythm Superfoods.
General Mills, Kellogg (k), Campbell Soup (cpb) and other large food manufacturers have been setting up VC arms to invest in food startups that have found success in luring customers away from established brands or in cultivating new food trends that core brands sold by Big Food haven't yet tackled. Rhythm Superfoods is a purveyor of kale, beet and broccoli chips—all snacks the company says are densely packed with nutrients.
Rhythm Superfoods is one of several startups that 301 has invested in. Others include plant-based food maker Beyond Meat, nut milk cheese and yogurt seller Kite Hill, and cottage cheese maker Good Culture. General Mills has in general been more aggressive than rivals in investing in food startups. Kellogg, for example, unveiled an initial bet just last week when it led a fundraising round for Kuli Kuli, a seller of herbal teas and "superfood" bars that are all moringa-based products.
The additional funding that Rhythm Superfoods raised will be used to expand capacity, fund new product development and support sales and marketing initiatives. The most recent debut were the beet chips, which launched soon after the original 301 investment.