Marking a major milestone moment for the organic food movement, Nature’s Path — the world’s largest organic breakfast company — and sustainable food and garden startup Back to the Roots have inked an exclusive licensing agreement to bring Back to the Roots’ organic, four-ingredients-or-less cereals into every school cafeteria across the country.
“We’re determined to make healthy, organic food universally accessible and our partnership with Back to the Roots is one of the ways we are collaborating to make this happen,” said Arjan Stephens, EVP of Nature’s Path. “Together, we are excited to leverage access to our organic ingredient supply chain and our robust distribution system to increase the number of school children who will start their day with an organic, and healthy breakfast.”
Launched in 2015, Back to the Roots cereals come in four flavors: Organic Cocoa Flakes, Organic Purple Corn Flakes, Organic & Biodynamic Cinnamon Flakes, and Organic Stoneground Frosted Flakes. All cereals are made in the USA with four or less direct-farmer-sourced ingredients and 100 percent stoneground whole grains. The packaging was the first bagless cereal box — 100 percent recyclable — and featured the cereals’ recipes right on the box.
“We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Nature’s Path — they are pioneers in the organic food movement and incredible visionaries who have been working tirelessly to build a better food system for over 30 years,” said Nikhil Arora, co-founder/co-CEO of Back to the Roots.
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Since founding the company in 2009, co-founders Arora and Alejandro Velez have been gaining momentum toward their mission to “undo food” with a growing range of products designed to reintroduce consumers — particularly children — to simple, wholesome, home-grown food. Starting with their grow-your-own mushroom kits, Back to the Roots’ product line now also includes an aquaponic herb garden, self-watering tomato and pepper planters and gardens in a can. Currently, Back to the Roots cereals are distributed in retailers such as Whole Foods Market across the country, as well as in the New York City Public School System, feeding 1.1 million kids each day. Back to the Roots became the first organic cereal ever offered in US public schools after displacing Kellogg’s as the cereals of choice via blind taste tests with NYC students.
Starting in September, Nature’s Path will be integrating the Back to the Roots cereal line into its portfolio — taking over supply chain, manufacturing and distribution.
“Together, we have a chance to make a massive impact in the food system & democratize organic food,” Velez said. “Cereal is such a staple of school foods and the start to so many kids’ days — if we can change the cereal category, we can change the food system, one bowl at a time.”
Arora told Sustainable Brands that with the Nature’s Path deal, Back to the Roots will stay deeply involved in the product and brand, but can now focus on its line of indoor gardening products. Throughout 2018, the company has been growing quickly with its current partners (The Home Depot, Amazon, Whole Foods), and distribution grew with launches in Costco, Target & Lowe’s.
“Through all this, we began to ask ourselves what was the best way to maximize impact: How do we ‘grow’ the indoor gardening category, while scaling our cereal line into every home and classroom?” Arora said via email. “And while we could do it alone — raising capital & expanding our distribution each year — we realized, if the right partner and opportunity came along on the cereal side, it’d allow us to focus our core resources on scaling the indoor gardening category faster, as well.”
Arora and Velez first met the Nature’s Path team at Expo West 2018; after their first conversation, Arora said they realized there was a perfect fit — starting with a truly shared vision. Now, Back to the Roots has the resources to scale up, the capabilities to offer new SKUs, and the opportunity to service millions of more kids.
“We wake up every morning for this mission to reconnect families and kids back to food,” Arora said. “Now, we get to do it by focusing on the fun challenge of inspiring everyone to experience that magic of growing their own food, while also supporting our friends at Nature’s Path to get our cereals into every home and classroom in America. Together, we truly have a chance to #UndoFood for this next generation.”