Chickpea pasta startup Banza raises US$20 million in funding

USA – Banza, a chickpea food company has raised US$20 million in a funding round led by Enlightened Hospitality Investments and Prelude Growth Partners.

Established in 2014 by brothers Brian and Scott Rudolph, Banza uses chickpea as a primary source of protein for its pasta, macaroni and cheese and rice products.

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Banza, which raised US$7.5m in a Series A round in 2017 led by Beechwood Capital, has expanded in the recent past, opening its own manufacturing center in California and started working with US chickpea farmers.

Banza currently is the fastest-selling pasta brand at both Whole Foods and Target. Banza’s pastas have almost twice richer in protein as their traditional wheat-based counterparts. They also have twice as much fiber and one third fewer carbs.

Brian Rudolph said the new funding will help grow Banza’s sales team, support marketing efforts and boost new product development. The company is also planning a move into the foodservice market in 2020.

“Foodservice is an amazing opportunity for us. We’ve actually been capacity constrained for the majority of our existence and we’ve always put our retail partners as the number one priority when running short on product, so it was hard to even focus on a new channel. ​

“But we’ve all seen what Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have accomplished in the foodservice market, and what’s exciting is what it’s done for their brand, not just sales,” he added.

Mark Leavitt, co-founder, managing partner, Enlightened Hospitality Investments said: “At Enlightened Hospitality Investments, we invest in ideas we wish we’d thought of ourselves and companies run by people we wish we had hired ourselves.

“Our investment in Banza, a company that is successfully disrupting categories that consumers love but where they have been offered little in the way of innovation, is a perfect example of our strategy being put to work.”​

Neda Daneshzadeh, co-founder, managing partner, Prelude Growth Partners​ added: “Prelude’s proprietary research indicates that Banza is resonating deeply with Millennials driven by its nutrition-rich and delicious product offering in a category which has seen very limited innovation.

“Banza also brings a sustainability lens to this space, which is increasingly an important factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions.”​

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