Wisconsin is at the heart of the cranberry world, producing about 60 percent of the nation’s cranberries. Many consumers best know these small red berries as a topping for turkey at Thanksgiving.
They’re boiled down and loaded up with cups of sugar. Why? Because these berries are too bitter to eat by themselves.
In keeping with consumer trends that embrace health awareness and “better-for-you” food options, Simply Incredible Foods provides high antioxidant fruits that can be eaten right out of the bag without the mouth-puckering bitterness. The company was profiled as part of a new business series done this fall by UW-Madison students.
Simply Incredible Foods was founded in 2011 by Christine Sohns and Jonathon Smith, president of manufacturing, research and development. He earned his doctoral degree in horticulture from UW-Madison, where he focused on cranberry plant nutrition, physiology and soil science. Sohns is the CEO of Simply Incredible Foods.
Presenting to investors Nov. 16 at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium in Madison, Smith said Simply Incredible Foods is seeking $500,000 to $1 million in capital. The money will be used for sales force growth, capital for equipment, and working capital, mainly at the company’s second location in Menasha. The capital raised will be used to increase the volume of product produced.
In 2014, the company purchased a former power plant in Menasha, Wis., for conversion to its headquarters, expanding from an existing Port Edwards location.
Simply Incredible Foods’ product line includes traditional cranberries, cranberry juice, Cransations, freeze-dried Cransations, aronia berries and cranberry sauces and spreads. Competitors typically offer baseline cranberry products that have been dried and have added sugar, with no freezer options.
“The biggest thing is the cranberry is nutritionally not ready to eat,” Sohns states. Simply Incredible Foods takes the acidity out of the cranberry and infuses it with juice with no sugar added. A serving of Cransations is only 50 calories compared to popular brands of sweetened and dried cranberries boasting 130 calories per serving.
“You open the bag and you snack on them like popcorn,” Sohns said. “Most people love them as a healthy snack.”
Simply Incredible Foods recently met with Walmart to discuss adding some of its product lines to its stores, which reach the full range of consumers.
“Kids love our product. They don’t know what it is; they just love eating a red ball,” Sohns said.
Up next: Simply Incredible Foods is expanding the product line beyond cranberries.
A new product in the lineup is RazzAronia, a Midwest grown berry infused with a raspberry juice. Aronia berries, or chokeberries, are relatively new to the market and are deemed to be the next superfood. They are full of antioxidants and can help protect the body from the effects of oxidization. According to Sohns, aronia berries have 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries.
“The tannins are so high; it would be like eating a tea bag. Our process is removing the tannins and infusing it with juice,” said Sohns.
–By Lauren Baker
Baker is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communications.