Instacart Ads

Reimagining the Future of Food With Partake

Instacart

Instacart

Jun 28, 2022

In this brand story, we’re shining a spotlight on Partake Foods, a New Jersey-based Instacart brand partner and participant in the Instacart Ads Initiative, our $2 million commitment to amplify historically underrepresented brands. 

When her daughter was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, Partake Foods founder and CEO Denise Woodard rolled up her sleeves to create a better food experience. 

Over the last five years, Denise has built a now-beloved brand that offers a selection of delicious, allergy-friendly foods that everyone can enjoy and share with confidence. All of Partake’s products – from their best-selling cookies to the brand’s baking mixes and new line of pancake & waffle mixes – are certified gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, and free of the top nine allergens.

“My daughter inspires me every day. She kept me going through the nearly 100 “nos” I heard when we were starting to build Partake,” says Denise.

2020 was a transformative year for Partake. Following George Floyd’s murder, several investors and retailers reached out looking to partner with Black-owned consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands. Denise says, “We saw a ton of interest during this time, but it didn’t sit right with me that our business was benefitting from a tragedy. I thought, what can we do to use this interest and energy to pay it forward and create positive change?”

“I think one reason we saw so much concentrated, inbound interest is because there are so few Black-owned CPG brands at a national scale.”

Denise Woodard, Founder and CEO, Partake Foods

Partake’s Black Futures in Food & Beverage fellowship program was born in the fall of 2020, for Historically Black College & University (HBCU) students interested in exploring a career in the CPG industry. The annual program not only provides mentorship and education, but also helps place students in internships and jobs. 

“As I was hiring for key roles at my own company after leaving the corporate food and beverage space, the applicant pool with the skills and experience I was looking for was incredibly homogenous,” she says. “Our fellowship program is designed to give Black students the education and opportunity earlier in their careers to pursue the food industry.” 

Today, you can find Partake products in over 8,000 stores across the United States. When it comes to connecting with retailers and distributors as a small brand, Denise’s advice is to get creative. “The doors wouldn’t open so we went through the windows – from sending countless LinkedIn messages to striking up conversation in the bathroom line at industry trade shows,” she says. 

“It’s really just about putting one foot in front of the other and committing to the consistency needed to build a business.”

Denise Woodard, Founder and CEO, Partake Foods

Through relationships with partners like Instacart, Partake has built a leading e-commerce presence. “Platforms like Instacart help level the playing field for small brands like ours,” Denise says. “When you’re at this stage, there’s not room in the budget for big out-of-home campaigns or celebrity partnerships. With Instacart Ads, we can closely track ROI to optimize our spend, and reach so many retailers and regions of the country we wouldn’t be able to with a grassroots approach alone.”

Developing a strong brand is also key to driving awareness and growth, both in store and online.

 “Brand isn’t just a logo, it’s every touchpoint someone has with a company. It’s how that company makes you feel when you see their packaging on the shelf, interact with them on social media, or stop by their booth at a conference.”

Denise Woodard, Founder and CEO, Partake Foods

Partake’s brand is rooted in diversity and inclusivity, an ethos that shows up in their products – designed to create a more equitable food system that everyone can safely enjoy – and the initiatives they invest in. 

For investors and CPG leaders, Denise’s advice is to invest in the future of food. She believes that minority-owned brands will soon be the majority, driving innovation in the food and beverage space. In her experience, the Black community is over-mentored. To truly support their growth and amplify their work, diverse brands need funding and access to capital to even begin to take advantage of later stage distribution and advertising opportunities.

“Black women are starting brands at a faster rate than the rest of the country, but the investment rate in these brands is dismal. It’s the responsibility of larger brands, investors, and companies who have capital to be deliberate about making this industry more equitable. This requires strong action – as I sometimes say, make the hire or send the wire.”

Denise Woodard, Founder and CEO, Partake Foods

Learn more about Partake Foods here, and follow the brand on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If your brand is eligible for the Instacart Ads Initiative, visit ads.instacart.com to sign up and learn more. You can read more about the Initiative and its recent expansion here!

Instacart

Instacart

Instacart is the leading online grocery platform in North America, partnering with more than 750 beloved national, regional and local retailers, including unique brand names, to deliver from more than 70,000 stores across more than 5,500 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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