good karma holiday nog Image credit: Good Karma Foods

Q&A: Good Karma CEO Doug Radi on Dean Foods deal

Good Karma lands a distribution partnership and an investment to go with it.

When Boulder-based Good Karma Foods launched in 2012, the goal was to bring a unique bundle of benefits to the plant-based milk category. And the answer was flax milk. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and allergen-free (a differentiating factor in the dairy alternative category, where many options are nut-based), flax milk offers a taste profile that lets the main ingredient of whatever it's put in—whether it’s coffee or cereal—shine.

Fast forward to today, and Good Karma Foods has an innovative line of products on its roster including milk, drinkable yogurts and individual yogurt cups, and a new distribution and investment deal to go with it. Here, CEO Doug Radi pulls back the curtain on the brand’s new partnership and its big plans for the future.

What challenges were you trying to address by partnering with Dean Foods?
Doug Radi: It sounds so simple, but the number one question we get is, where can I buy Good Karma? As much as we’ve grown the brand and expanded our distribution over the last couple years, not enough stores and channels carry our products, so we get constant requests from consumers for different stores to please carry our products. So we had a huge opportunity to expand our distribution where our shoppers go. Signing a distribution agreement with Dean Foods allows us to leverage their system, which will enable us to more quickly expand our distribution.

They also made a minority investment in our business which will help us expand investment in consumer marketing, brand building and product innovation as we continue to expand the footprint of our brand. Dean Foods saw expanding their plant-based milk and dairy portfolio as a growth opportunity for them. So this gives them an opportunity to invest in the company. It was a perfect partnership.

Are there any distribution challenges you are still working on?
DR: The heritage and history of our brand is the natural food store. We’re available in all 50 states, and in most of the big natural food chains. What we’ve done over the last couple years is expand significantly in the conventional grocery channel, but we are still just scratching the surface. We are available in less than one-fifth of grocery stores. But plant-based milks are sold in almost 100 percent of stores. So we see an upside for something like a distribution partnership with Dean Foods to expand into conventional grocery, but also drug and convenience stores and foodservice.

When can retailers and consumers start to see your products on shelves nationally?
DR: It's happening today. We are rapidly expanding. We are available in more and more stores every day, and actively working via this new distribution agreement to unlock other potentials. So this is happening immediately.

What's next for Good Karma Foods?
DR: You'll see a couple things: obviously, one is expanded distribution. But we’ll also be expanding our product line, and one of the first things you'll see this holiday season is a flax milk holiday nog and pumpkin spice nog. That’s a seasonal offering we’re excited about. We also plan to expand our cup yogurt area, and this is all building on our commitment to allergen-free and delicious tasting ingredients. We’ll also be expanding our investment in consumer marketing and inspiring messaging, to introduce more consumers to the Good Karma brand.

We are excited about all of those fronts, and have a tremendous amount of passion for the brand and where we can go from here with this partnership. At the end of the day, our mission is to inspire goodness and deliver fantastic plant-based dairy products to support families looking for those options. This partnership enables us to do more of that.

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