Partake Foods boosts mission to champion radical inclusivity with $11.5m in funding

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Coca Cola alum Denise Woodard started Partake Foods to create allergen-friendly treats for her daughter Vivienne. Pic: Partake Foods
Coca Cola alum Denise Woodard started Partake Foods to create allergen-friendly treats for her daughter Vivienne. Pic: Partake Foods

Related tags Partake Foods allergen-free Gluten-free non-GMO No Kid Hungry inclusivity women of colour HBCU

The New Jersey-based Black woman-owned allergy-friendly cookie and baking mix producer has announced a $11.5 million Series B funding, with one of the most diverse group of funders in the food industry: the majority being women of colour.

According to founder and CEO Denise Woodard, inclusivity is at the heart of what Partake is doing, working to supply allergy-friendly meals to food-insecure families across the US.

According to FARE, food allergies affect one in 13 children across the country, with Black children being at a significantly higher risk of developing these allergies. That’s why a portion of the brand’s proceeds go to organisations like No Kid Hungry to provide access to food, education and advocacy.

Black girl eating a cookie Motortion
Pic: GettyImages/Motortion

Additionally in 2020, Woodard founded Black Futures in Food & Beverage, a yearly fellowship programme that mentors HBCU (Historically Black College and University) students and helps them secure jobs and internships.

The 7-week virtual programme includes career prep and workshops with industry leaders. It’s really meant to be a primer on a wide variety of job opportunities and concludes with a capstone project and virtual career day that typically result in internships and full-time roles with the CPG industry. The first cohort had every full-time student land a job or an internship.

Trailblazing food inclusivity

“This shows up most notably in creating foods that over 90% of Americans can enjoy safely; the doors we’re opening with our Black Futures in Food & Beverage Fellowship; and the 1,000,000 meals we’ve committed to providing with No Kid Hungry in 2022,”​ said Woodard, a Coca Cola alum.

“I’m so proud of the investors we have around our table. With this newly raised capital, Partake will continue to champion radical inclusivity by scaling our team and operations ensuring we can continue to deliver on our promises of making eating and sharing simple and worry-free and lifting as we climb.”

The capital will allow Partake to scale operationally to create the allergy-friendly products, including crunchy and soft-baked cookies (Chocolate Chip, Birthday Cake and Ginger Snap), baking mixes, and a pancake & waffle line in Confetti and Classic flavours. Created by a concerned mom after her daughter was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, all Partake products are certified gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan and are free of the top 9 allergens (wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, soy, fish, sesame, and shellfish).

Partake Foods

“Partake is a trailblazing brand championing food inclusivity through its delicious, healthy, and allergy-friendly products, and we are thrilled to be a part of this raise and support the team to ensure consumers everywhere know their brand,”​ said Arian Simone, cofounder and general partner of Fearless Fund, which aims to bridge the gap in venture capital funding for women of colour founders, and a new investor in Partake

“Our enthusiasm for Partake’s future lies not only in offering the brand's tasty foods to the millions of people with dietary restrictions, but also in its incredible mission to partner with organisations fighting global food insecurity.”

Other investors included Cleveland Ave’s CAST US fund, Supply Change Capital and Kaya Ventures. Returning investors included Jay-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners, CircleUp Growth Partners, Black Star Fund, FF2032 (Lotus Bakeries’ venture arm) and Black Capital.

Impressive track record

To-date, Partake has raised $19m since launching in 2016. Woodard was the first Black woman to raise more than $1m publicly for a CPG food start-up. In 2021, the brand garnered massive attention after attracting backing from mega celebs like Rhianna, H.E.R., and Jay Z’s capital fund Marcy Venture Partners.

Based on recent SPINS data, the brand – recently listed as #45 on the 2022 Inc. 5000 list – grew 8x faster in the past 52 weeks than the total category in the Mulo (multi-channel) & Convenience and Natural & Enhanced channels. The team has grown from one full-time employee in 2020 to 20 in 2022 and has become the #2 allergy-friendly brand in the US Natural & Enhanced channel ranked by dollar growth. The brand has also scaled with 200% year-over-year (YOY) growth from 2020 to 2021 and 100% YOY growth from 2021 to 2022.

“Partake has had an impressive track record of growth and continues to build momentum in driving its mission of providing consumers with delicious, healthy and allergy-friendly foods. We are excited to have them become part of the CAST US portfolio,”​ said Andrea Zopp, managing partner of CAST US Fund, a $70m initiative to bridge the capital and resource gap impacting Black, Latinx and women entrepreneurs in Chicago’s South and West Side neighbourhoods.

Partake products can be found in over 9,000 retail stores across the US, including Whole Foods Market, Walmart, Target, Kroger and Sprouts.

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