Unilever is launching Growing Roots, an organic, plant-based snack brand with a social mission. The company will donate half of all Growing Roots’ profits to support Unilever’s urban farming partnerships. The brand builds on Unilever’s multi-year urban farming commitment, which establishes and funds partnerships to unlock access to fresh foods and nutrition education in communities across the country.
“What’s so special about Growing Roots is that it started as a social mission that our employees were passionate about, borne from the belief that everyone should have access to affordable, nutritious food,” said Matthew McCarthy, VP of foods, Unilever North America. “Seeing the transformational impact urban farms have in communities, we created a brand from the ground up to help fulfill and extend that mission.”
In 2015, Unilever joined a public-private partnership with the city of New York’s Building Healthy Communities initiative and Green City Force to create six urban farms in New York, which together have already generated approximately 32,000 pounds of organic produce. In addition to the company providing funds, Unilever employees volunteer thousands of hours each year to these efforts. Based on the program’s community impact in New York, Unilever has extended outreach to Los Angeles, Houston, Miami and Chicago as well. By directing 50 percent of its profits to urban farming initiatives, the Growing Roots brand allows Unilever to build a sustainable model for long-term community impact, the company says.
“Green City Force is pleased to be part of a New York City initiative that places young people from public housing communities at the forefront of community engagement and access to fresh produce and vibrant open spaces,” said Lisbeth Shepherd, founder and executive director of Green City Force. “We value Unilever’s partnership in this work in New York and are grateful for their continued support of urban farming.”
Marking Unilever’s entry to the U.S. organic snack category, the Growing Roots product line includes snack bites and clusters made from organic ingredients like coconut, corn and seeds. Growing Roots snacks feature simple, plant-based ingredients in sweet and savory combinations: Cocoa Chipotle features cocoa and chipotle peppers; Pineapple Coconut Rum combines pineapple, rum and cinnamon; Maple Bourbon blends maple syrup and nutmeg; and Coconut Curry features coconut, turmeric and lemongrass.
Growing Roots snack bites and clusters will be available in ShopRite stores in the Northeast beginning this month, retailing for $3.99 per 4-oz. pack. Unilever will be expanding to nationwide distribution with more retailers throughout 2018, including Amazon Fresh and Amazon.com.
The new line is USDA Certified Organic, certified gluten-free, certified vegan and an excellent source of ALA Omega-3. Growing Roots will make its trade show debut this month at Natural Products Expo West, Booth N134, March 7-11.