Strong Roots has secured McCain Foods as a new minority shareholder as the Irish frozen-food business seeks to enter the out-of-home channel.

Canada’s McCain, the French fries giant, has invested US$55m in Dublin-based Strong Roots in exchange for a minority interest. The undisclosed stake has been acquired from Goode Partners, the US private-equity firm that invested in the company in 2019 as part of a Series A round.

The two companies share similarities as Strong Roots, founded in 2015 by Samuel Dennigan, produces frozen chips and fries, along with a range of vegetables and vegetable-based snacks and bites. Strong Roots is looking to take advantage of privately-owned McCain’s exposure to the foodservice channel to launch into the out-of-home sector.

Strong Roots sells its products through retail in the UK and Ireland, including Tesco and Asda. It also has a presence in France, the Netherlands and Iceland, and further afield in the US, Australia, Singapore and a clutch of markets in the Middle East. Other stockists include Whole Foods Market, Walmart and Kroger.

In a statement, Strong Roots said it will use McCain’s “global presence to expand its own footprint in existing markets, including GB, Ireland, United States, and to enter new markets working with new retailers”.

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Asked for clarification on what new markets will be targeted, Strong Roots said via a spokesperson that Scandinavia, other parts of the European Union and Asia will be on the agenda, confirming the entrance into foodservice will start with the UK, with no specific time frame provided.

In terms expanding the frozen food offering through product innovation, the spokesperson said Strong Roots plans to broaden the portfolio by “tackling underdeveloped categories of frozen and elsewhere in the store”.

The Irish business will continue to operate independently under CEO Dennigan.

Dennigan said in a statement: “Working in partnership with McCain Foods means that we are able to grow our brand and the values it stands for, while providing us at Strong Roots with the resources and capabilities we need to see change globally and impactfully. Our duty is to lead the betterment of ingredients, sourcing, packaging, process and taste, at the same time as working with our partners to achieve this.”

McCain has also invested in a number of other fledgling companies. This year, it injected CAD65m (US$51.1m today) into GoodLeaf Farms, a vertical-farming company in Canada and the subsidiary of Truleaf Sustainable Agriculture, three years after making an undisclosed investment in the leafy greens business.

Simulate, the New York-based firm behind the Nuggs faux-chicken nuggets brand, also attracted investment from McCain in 2019.

In September, the Canadian firm teamed up with product developer and investor Pilot Lite Capital to develop The Simple Root, a new dairy-alternative brand, along with a range of cooking sauces, dips and pesto created with potatoes and other root vegetables.

Max Koeune, the president and CEO of McCain, said Strong Roots “aligns with our innovative approach to creating food, but also helps us grow our portfolio of healthier food that meets changing consumer demands in a sustainable way”.

Howard Snape, the regional president for Great Britain and Ireland for McCain, added: “As a family-run business, we take a long-term approach to everything we do, whether that’s focusing on making our products in a sustainable way to support the planet, or ensuring our food continues to meet constantly changing consumer needs.

“Strong Roots is a company that not only focuses strongly on sustainability but is also doing incredible work to grow the range of healthy frozen foods available when consumers are looking for it most.”

From the archive, July 2018: “We see ourselves as the new Birds Eye for a modern generation” – Strong Roots founder Samuel Dennigan on his plans for the frozen vegetable brand