The investment from Danone’s venture arm also includes cash support from Mousse Partners, AccelFoods, and other existing and new shareholders.
Harmless Harvest is the third investment Danone Manifesto Ventures has made in a US brand since it launched in 2016. It has minority stakes in Farmer’s Fridge and Kona Deep as well as partnerships with AccelFoods and Cassius Family.
“Danone Manifesto Ventures, Mousse Partners, and AccelFoods are the right partners to help us deliver on our vision of providing the world with better, healthier nutrition while advancing our sustainability and environmental agenda,” Harmless Harvest co-founder Douglas Riboud said.
The $30m in funding will allow Harmless Harvest to support its growth initiatives including increasing and optimizing its sustainable production capacity in Thailand, as well as raising brand awareness and expanding geographic distribution to meet growing consumer demand for refrigerated premium coconut water.
Danone takes stake in 'unique US brand with great growth potential'
Danone, which generated sales of approximately €22bn ($27.4bn) in 2016, is the company behind a number of international brands such as Activia, Actimel, evian and Nutricia.
“Harmless Harvest is a unique US brand with a strong consumer base and a great growth potential in the attractive plant-based category,” Laurent Marcel, managing director of Danone Manifesto Ventures.
US sales of refrigerated and shelf-stable plant waters grew by 4.1% to a combined annual total of $509.8m with growth especially strong in refrigerated coconut and other plant waters, which rose by 18.9% last year, according to SPINS scan data for the 52 weeks ending June 18, 2017.
Harmless Harvest employs a “seed to shelf” business model that includes investing in the rural Thai communities where its coconuts are grown.
Each of its products has a ‘Fair for Life’ certification which requires that companies meet a set of high environmental and social standards including farmers’ wages, wellbeing, and working conditions, the company said.
In 2013, Harmless Harvest built its first factory in Thailand, differentiating itself from other mainstream coconut water brands available at the time by using non- thermal process for making its products. In 2016, the company introduced its multi-step micro-filtration process that allows for more predictable performance and quality control while using roughly 24% less plastic in its bottles.
“Harmless Harvest was developed to force the conventional food industry toward a new set of standards that includes all stakeholders, from soil to stomach,” Riboud said.