DURHAM, N.C. – Seal the Seasons, the first national brand to sell locally grown frozen produce, has emerged from 2020 with fresh capital in the bank and a bolstered team of proven CPG leaders, adding Serafina Palandech as VP of Sales and Tom Healy as Senior Sales Advisor.
Over the course of 2020, as Americans have adapted to working and eating more at home, the frozen produce category is up 33.7%, according to SPINS, making it one of the fastest growing categories in the grocery store. Despite the sudden expanded demand in the category, legacy brands struggled to keep products on shelf due to the COVID-19 disruption of global supply chains.
"For a lot of frozen-fruit companies, frozen produce companies, -- the majority of their products is imported from overseas." said Seal the Seasons Co-founder & CEO Patrick Mateer.
The gap in store shelves led to opportunity for Seal the Seasons, which paired flexible distributed supply chains powered by local family farms, with the fastest growing frozen fruit brand in the category. The brand grew sales by 150% YoY, achieving month-to-month profitability in 2020.
"The best produce comes from American farmers growing locally right here in our communities," said Seal the Seasons Co-founder & COO Alex Piasecki. "Sourcing locally is a win-win for family farms, grocers, and shoppers looking for delicious fruits and vegetables in the fall, winter and spring!
With frozen produce purchases surging at shelf, Seal the Seasons moved to add proven sales leaders Serafina Palandech and Tom Healy as an advisor to fortify the company for an expanded role in the category in 2021. Over the past 10 years, Palandech founded, scaled, and sold her own organic chicken nugget venture. Healy played a significant sales role at both Vitamin Water and Pirates Booty prior to their successful acquisition. "We have over 20 new SKUs in our innovation pipeline" said Piasecki, "The right team is essential to execute product launches with existing customers and manage consistent new distribution opportunities."
To finance an expanded team and continued topline growth, the company raised $2.5 million from a group of private investors, led by VentureSouth with significant participation from Fairbridge Park, Semillero Ventures, Slow Money NC members, Food Future Co, and existing shareholders. "In our category detailed execution is essential" said Mateer, "This funding will allow our team to focus on executing at shelf, grow our velocities, and continue offering a superior produce experience to our consumers".
"We were incredibly impressed with the Seal the Seasons team and are excited to be the lead investor in this round of funding." Said Charlie Banks, Managing Partner at VentureSouth, "Their creativity and tenacious pursuit of growth was evident from our first interaction. We believe they are well positioned to be a significant leader in the industry. Our hopes are high for their success and our newly forged partnership."
Fairbridge Park, a NYC based Venture Fund, also made a significant investment in the round. "Patrick and Alex represent a rare ability to balance commitment to the company’s mission - elevating local farmers through better economics and communities through affordable healthier and fresher food – with ability to execute efficiently and profitably." said Managing Partner David Tswamuno, "We are very pleased to join them on this journey."
"While having aligned equity partners is our first priority, not enough credit is given to the debt providers helping businesses like ours finance our inventory." said Mateer, "It goes beyond a transactional relationship to renew our asset backed credit line for the third year with Circle Up Credit Advisors. They play a crucial role in getting our family farms paid for their produce."
"We built the technology and a team of experts to tailor our credit products to the specific needs of emerging brands in CPG through an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the consumer retail market" said Jeff Butler, GM of Credit, CircleUp. "We enjoy working with Seal the Seasons and supporting their growth through CircleUp Credit Advisors."
The company currently has 65+ unique local SKUs available – supporting over 70+ farms and utilizing over 12 freezing and packing sites across the United States.
About Seal the Seasons:
Seal the Seasons is pioneering a new locally grown, locally frozen and locally sold brand platform. The company was founded in 2014 with the mission to support local family farms by making local frozen produce and value-added produce to consumers 365 days a year. Seal the Seasons believes that America’s food system must balance the well-being of people, provide wholesome products, and generate sustainable profits, and that local food creates a better future for family farms and communities. As a Certified B Corporation, Seal the Seasons is committed to using business as a force for good in the world.
All of Seal the Seasons’ products are locally grown, and locally sold. The brand first released local fruit and vegetable products in 2016 by selling North Carolina and South Carolina grown produce in grocery store chains based out of the Carolinas.
Seal the Seasons currently is distributed in 4,000+ retail locations while operating in six regions of the United States (Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest and Southeast) with 4-10 SKUs available in each region. The company was founded in 2014 by Patrick Mateer & Alex Piasecki, local food entrepreneurs who founded the company while in college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For more information about Seal the Seasons, visit www.sealtheseasons.com.