Swedish ice cream maker snags $30 million, partners with Perfect Day20 Jan 2021
Swedish sugar-free ice cream brand, Nick’s scooped up $30 million in a funding round led by Stockholm-based investment group Gullspång invest, an early investor in Oatly. Along with a sizeable infusion of cash, the better-for-you ice cream brand also secured Carlos Altschul as the company’s new CEO. Altschul was previously the CEO of Siggi’s.
The company said that it will use this additional funding for international expansion with its primary focus geared toward the U.S. and Germany. Funding will also be applied to constructing a production facility in Europe.
Nick’s aggressive international expansion goals will be a continuation of its success in the United States. Since it appeared on shelves in 2019, the company said it has become “the fastest-growing, better-for-you ice cream available in-store and DTC” with sales in 2020 reaching approximately $10 million.
Part of the brand’s popularity is derived from its success in mimicking a full-fat, full-calorie ice cream but with only a fraction of the associated calories. Thanks to its EPG fat source, which is a modified plant-based oil, the company can replace up to 85% of the fat content in its ice cream products with an ingredient that has seven times fewer calories per gram than regular fat molecules. Nick’s says it has the exclusive right to use EPG in the U.S. and the result is that its ice cream has 70% fewer calories than other brands.
However, low-calorie ice cream is not the only method that the company is using to disrupt the ice cream space. Vegan ice cream is another category in which Nick’s is hoping to scoop up some market share. In January, Nick’s launched vegan ice cream in collaboration with Perfect Day, the biotech company that produces whey protein that is identical to cow’s milk. The pair collaborated on seven vegan ice cream flavors, including Swedish Mint Chip, Choklad Choklad and Karamell Swirl; however, the full range of flavors will not be available until February.
While the collaboration with Perfect Day is billed as a vegan ice cream, many consider products created with Perfect Day's cow-free protein to be animal-free rather than plant-based. However it is categorized, this animal-free dairy ice cream niche is small but growing. Other brands like Graeter’s, Brave Robot and Smitten are competing in the space that is steadily gaining a wider audience due to its appeal as a more sustainable method of producing animal products.
With Altschul at the helm of the company, Nick’s is setting itself up for growth through innovation. When the CEO previously led Siggi’s, he was able to keep the company as a leader in the Icelandic skyr market by pushing for adjacent product innovation, including venturing into the plant-based space. With experience leading a company that is looking to grow and evolve, it is no surprise that Altschul will be focusing on expanding Nick’s retail and e-commerce, direct-to-consumer presence in 2021 with a particular emphasis on innovation and retail distribution.
Although the company is laser focused on ice cream in the U.S., its European business also includes bars, beverages and snacks.
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