Hot-to-trot raw food company Little Bird Organics is looking towards international growth, launching an equity crowd-funding campaign with the hope of expanding its retail trade.
The company currently has two 'Unbakeries' in Auckland, including a flagship café in Ponsonby, and currently ships over 20,000 units per week to retailers. Founder Megan May has also put out two cookbooks, and in 2017, also begun supplying ready-made meals to Emirates Leisure Retail at Auckland International Airport and to Huckleberry and Commonsense Organics grocery stores.
Now, less than a week after launching its PledgeMe campaign, Little Bird Organics has raised over $1.8 million, showing there is a strong demand for organic and sustainable businesses in New Zealand and the global food industry.
May says it’s an exciting time to be making moves in the plant-based sector, as she believes there’s still so much potential for growth.
“There is so much evidence both nationally and internationally showing that healthy food is the fastest growing category in supermarkets," she says. “The demand for our products from both supermarkets nationwide and international distributors just keeps growing.”
The crowdfunding campaign was used to grow the Little Bird Organics retail business model to ensure their company values were reflected in their shareholders, May says. “First and foremost, we are a values-based business and we want it to stay that way. Crowdfunding offers the best investment pathway to do this.”
Their primary focus for the next 12-18 months will be growing the manufacturing division of their wholesale products, including a major expansion of automated manufacturing equipment and techniques. Stepping away from their current handmade approach, automation will create a dramatic increase in Little Bird’s production capacity and decrease product cost.
“The funds raised will ensure a mixture of operational improvements to help with pricing and profitability of products, as well as facilitating the necessary certifications and other resources required to sell internationally,” May explains.
“However, firstly, the funds will be used for national expansion. There will be a lot of NPD from Little Bird over the next few years in categories you might not have seen the business in before and improvements to existing products and packaging.”
Of the capital raised from the crowdfunding campaign, Little Bird will invest $170,00 in new product development, including customer research, trials and testing, sourcing of ingredients, and innovative and sustainable packaging options. In addition, $65,000 will fund the development of a new ecommerce website, creating greater functionality and more intuitive use.
Little Bird Organic sends out 20,000 units per month into retail spaces. The new aim for the company is to at least double these units in the short term.
"Longer term growth will be significant, but difficult to put a number on - it depends on how many extra ranges we release, and how effectively we can work with other manufacturers," says the company.
Expanding on its current direct to consumer offerings of cleanse packs, juice boxes and meal packs, Little Bird Organics is also considering the potential of a Little Bird grocery staples box, providing nutrient dense pantry staples. The nature of confirmed online sales eliminates wastage, so is seen as a great opportunity to further emphasise company values.
Another major new product development will be diversifying from their current range of dehydrated products into new retail categories.
“Our goal is to create products that make it easier for everyday consumers to eat nourishing, organic plant-based whole foods,” May says. “It’s really important that our products offer a delicious experience.”
May says the Little Bird Organics PledgeMe campaign is a call to action for people who believe in healthy, organic food being the future, as anyone who invests will be part of New Zealand’s diversifying food economy, shifting the focus away from our reliance on dairy and farming and into sustainable, plant-based food.
The campaign runs until Thursday March 22, or until the limit of $2 million is reached.
With 533 pledgers so far, the average investment sits at just over $3,000.
Founder, Megan May.