At Natural Products Expo West last year, Mooala’s Coconut Oatmilk won the Best New Organic Beverage award with praise from the NEXTY team that it could be just what sends oat milk to the top of the alt-milk category. We asked founder and CEO Jeff Richards about how the last year has gone for the plant-based milk brand and what it has in store for the months ahead.
What has changed for Mooala since last year’s NEXTY?
Jeff Richards: Since our NEXTY announcement, we’ve expanded our Organic Coconut Oatmilk into nearly 1,000 stores. Oatmilk is a hot product right now, and ours meets many customer requirements, like using non-GMO, organic ingredients, 0 grams of sugar per serving and a great source of calcium. (We have nine SKUs total, which were rolled out over the past three years.)
We grew from 2,000 stores nationwide in January 2019 to nearly 4,000 in January 2020. We’re available nationally in retailers like Walmart, HEB, Costco, Wegmans and Albertsons-Safeway. We have the most store penetration in the Northeast and in the Southwest.
Do you know which milk category you tend to draw customers away from—from dairy or from other alternative milks?
JR: Mooala beverages are typically an incremental purchase, purchased alongside another dairy milk or alternative milk, rather than replacing them entirely.
If it's not replacing other milks, how exactly people are using it—in what context/format are they consuming it?
JR: Our beverages are consumed in multiple different ways, depending on the product. For example, most people enjoy Chocolate Banana milk in a glass alone, versus our creamers, which are mainly used in coffee. Where someone may use a dairy milk or private label plant milk as their everyday go-to milk, Mooala is purchased as a variety-builder to their grocery list to make an average bowl of cereal or smoothie a little more fun.
Given our larger bottle size of 48 ounces and our approachable Mooala koala mascot, Mooala beverages skew toward families.
What are your bestsellers? And fastest-growing products?
JR: Our best seller is the Original Banana milk, which is also our claim to fame and a unique product. It’s a nut-free, dairy-free beverage that fuses pureed bananas and roasted sunflower seeds with a dash of cinnamon. Our Original Banana milk has zero added sugar but has subtle sweetness from the bananas themselves. It’s a great source of calcium and a good source of potassium. Banana milk is delicious in smoothies, coffee, baked goods and on its own.
What does Mooala have planned for 2020?
JR: In January, we expanded our national footprint with Walmart across 19 states. Additionally, we recently received an investment that will support our growth into new markets and fast-track future product developments. The $8.3 million in Series A equity financing from Sweat Equities, an investment firm specializing in the food, beverage and consumer goods sector, will support Mooala’s emergence into new markets, help accelerate product development and bolster the internal team.