Fast-growing Irish food company puts down roots in UK market

Strong Roots secures listing with two top UK retailers, with revenues forecast to hit €20m

Sam Dennigan, founder of Strong Roots: “The plant-based and vegan food category is growing at an unprecedented rate in the UK.”

Sam Dennigan, founder of Strong Roots: “The plant-based and vegan food category is growing at an unprecedented rate in the UK.”

 

Strong Roots, the fast-growing Irish food company, is forecasting another record year after securing listings for its products with two of the top four grocery retailers in the UK.

The company, which specialises in healthy frozen vegetable products such as kale-and-quinoa burgers, roasted beetroot wedges and sweet potato fries, is launching in 500 Tesco stores nationwide. It also recently started supplying to nearly half of Morrisons’ 491 supermarkets in Britain.

The latest listings come shortly after its product range began to be stocked by Ocado, the world’s largest dedicated online retailer. Amazon Fresh, which introduced fresh food deliveries in the UK in 2016, has also become a stockist, as have Waitrose and Whole Foods.

Founded by Dubliner Sam Dennigan in 2015, Strong Roots is intent on revolutionising the frozen food category. Other products in its plant-based range include ripened avocado halves, pumpkin-and-spinach burgers and mixed-roots vegetable fries.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Dennigan said he expected revenues to more than double this year to €20 million, with up to €7 million of that deriving from the UK.

Meat-free market

The meat-free food market in Britain is expected to be worth £658 million by 2021 and Mr Dennigan says the company’s primary focus is on the UK market, where demand for convenient plant-based and vegan foods is soaring. According to Mintel, 28 per cent of UK adults limited their meat consumption over the last six months.

“The plant-based and vegan food category is growing at an unprecedented rate in the UK and as our products become more widely available there, I would expect our market share to continue to grow,” he said.

The company, which recorded turnover of €2 million in its first trading year, forecast sales of €10 million for 2017. However, revenues came in under this, as one big contract came in late and so will be recorded in this year’s accounts.

Mr Dennigan is optimistic the company can hit the €100 million mark within the next five years.

Widely available

Its products are widely available locally and, according to Mr Dennigan, 20 per cent of all veggie burgers sold in Irish supermarkets are from Strong Roots.

“We’re the fastest-growing in the frozen category in Ireland, and Irish consumers have completely fallen in love with the brand,” he said.

A finalist in last year’s EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year awards, Mr Dennigan said the company is trading strongly in all the markets it currently operates in, which include Ireland, the UK, Singapore, Iceland, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar.

He said the company is eying a possible soft launch in the US in the first quarter of 2019.

Mr Dennigan is a grandson of the founder of Sam Dennigan and Company, a North Dublin-based firm that specialises in fresh fruit and vegetables. The family-run business employs 350 people and recorded turnover of €110 million in 2016.