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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM 10-K

 

 

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 26, 2021

OR

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from ______________ to ______________

Commission File Number: 001-39411

 

 

Vital Farms, Inc.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

Delaware

27-0496985

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

 

 

3601 South Congress Avenue

Suite C100

Austin, Texas

 

78704

(Address of principal executive offices)

(Zip Code)

(877) 455-3063

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

 

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Trading

Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, - par value $0.0001 per share

 

VITL

 

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.  Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act.  Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.     Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).     Yes No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

 

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

 

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).     Yes No

The aggregate market value of the voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based on the closing price of the registrant’s shares of common stock as reported by The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC on June 25, 2021 (the last business day of the registrant’s second fiscal quarter), was approximately $535.4 million. This calculation does not reflect a determination that certain persons are affiliates of the Registrant for any other purpose.

 

As of March 7, 2022, the registrant had 40,531,537 shares of common stock, $0.0001 par value per share, outstanding.

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE:

 

Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement for the registrant’s 2022 annual meeting of stockholders, to be filed within 120 days after the close of the registrant’s fiscal year, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report.

 

 

 


 

 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

Page

 

Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

2

 

 

 

PART I

 

 

Item 1.

Business

4

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

17

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

44

Item 2.

Properties

44

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

44

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

44

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

45

Item 6.

[Reserved]

46

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

47

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

59

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

61

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

86

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

86

Item 9B.

Other Information

86

Item 9C.

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

86

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

87

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

87

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

87

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

87

Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

87

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibit and Financial Statement Schedules

88

Item 16

Form 10-K Summary

90

 

 

 


 

 

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report contains “forward-looking statements” (within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended) about us and our industry that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this Annual Report, including statements regarding our future results of operations or financial condition, business strategy and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements because they contain words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “contemplate,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “target,” “will” or “would” or the negative of these words or other similar terms or expressions. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning the following:

 

our expectations regarding our revenue, expenses and other operating results;

 

our ability to acquire new customers and successfully retain existing customers;

 

our ability to attract and retain our suppliers, distributors and co-manufacturers;

 

our ability to sustain or increase our profitability;

 

our ability to procure sufficient high-quality eggs, butter, cream and other raw materials;

 

real or perceived quality with our products or other issues that adversely affect our brand and reputation;

 

changes in the tastes and preferences of our consumers;

 

the financial condition of, and our relationships with, our suppliers, co-manufacturers, distributors, retailers and foodservice customers, as well as the health of the foodservice industry generally;

 

the ability of our suppliers and co-manufacturers to comply with food safety, environmental or other laws or regulations;

 

the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, or of other global outbreaks of pandemics or contagious diseases or fear of such outbreaks, including on our supply chain, the demand for our products, and on overall economic conditions and consumer confidence and spending levels;

 

future investments in our business, our anticipated capital expenditures and our estimates regarding our capital requirements;

 

anticipated changes in our product offerings and our ability to innovate to offer new products;

 

the costs and success of our marketing efforts, and our ability to promote our brand;

 

our reliance on key personnel and our ability to identify, recruit and retain personnel;

 

our ability to effectively manage our growth;

 

the potential influence of our focus on a specific public benefit purpose and producing a positive effect for society on our financial performance;

 

our environmental, sustainability and governance goals, opportunities and initiatives, as well as the standards and expectations of third parties regarding these matters;

 

our ability to compete effectively with existing competitors and new market entrants;

 

the impact of adverse economic conditions;

 

the sufficiency of our cash to meet our liquidity needs;

 

seasonality; and

 

the growth rates of the markets in which we compete.

You should not rely on forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. We have based the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report primarily on our current expectations and projections about future events and trends that we believe may affect our business, financial condition and operating results. The outcome of the events described in these forward-looking statements is subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors described in the section titled “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report and elsewhere in this Annual Report. A summary of selected risks associated with our business is set forth at the beginning of Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks and uncertainties emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all risks and uncertainties that could have an impact on the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report. The results, events and circumstances reflected in the

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forward-looking statements may not be achieved or occur, and actual results, events or circumstances could differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements.

In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based on information available to us as of the date of this Annual Report. And while we believe that information provides a reasonable basis for these statements, that information may be limited or incomplete. Our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain, and investors are cautioned not to unduly rely on these statements.

The forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report relate only to events as of the date on which the statements are made. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this Annual Report or to reflect new information or the occurrence of unanticipated events, except as required by law. We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions or expectations disclosed in our forward-looking statements, and you should not place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. Our forward-looking statements do not reflect the potential impact of any future acquisitions, mergers, dispositions, joint ventures or investments.

 

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Part I

Item 1. Business

Our Company: Bringing Ethical Food to the Table

Vital Farms is an ethically minded food company that is disrupting the U.S. food system. We have developed a framework that challenges the norms of the incumbent food model and allows us to bring high-quality products from our network of family farms to a national audience. This framework has enabled us to become the leading U.S. brand of pasture-raised eggs and the second largest U.S. egg brand by retail dollar sales. Our ethics are exemplified by our focus on animal welfare and sustainable farming practices. We believe our standards produce happy hens with varied diets, which produce better eggs. There is a seismic shift in consumer demand for natural, traceable, clean-label, great-tasting and nutritious foods. Supported by a steadfast adherence to the values on which we were founded, we have designed our brand and products to appeal to this consumer movement.

Our purpose is rooted in a commitment to Conscious Capitalism, which prioritizes the long-term benefits of each of our stakeholders (farmers and suppliers, customers and consumers, communities and the environment, employees, who we refer to as crew members, and stockholders). We make decisions based on what we believe is sustainable for all our stakeholders. Simply put, we will not be a sustainable business if our stakeholders are not sustainable as well. We believe our collective sustainable business practices will enable us to fulfill our purpose of improving the lives of people, animals and the planet through food, now and long into the future. For us, it is not about short-term outcomes or a trade-off between purpose and profit. We are fierce business competitors who believe that prioritizing the long-term viability of all stakeholders will produce stronger outcomes, for everyone, over time. Our approach has been validated by our financial performance and our initial designation and January 2022 recertification as a Certified B Corporation, a certification reserved for businesses that balance profit and purpose to meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability.

Our Ethical Decision-Making Model

 

We have scaled our brand through our strong relationships with family farms and deliberate efforts to design and build the infrastructure to bring our products to a national audience. Today, with a network of more than 275 family farms, we believe we have set the national standard for pastured-raised eggs. We believe the success of our relationships with family farms and the efficiency of our supply chain provide us with a competitive advantage in the approximately $45 billion U.S. natural food and beverage industry, in which achieving reliable supply at a national scale can be challenging. In 2017, we opened Egg Central Station, a shell egg processing facility in Springfield, Missouri, which is centrally located within our network of family farms. Egg Central Station is capable of packing three million eggs per day and has achieved Safe Quality Food, or SQF, Level 3 certification, the highest level of such certification recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative, or GFSI. In addition, Egg Central Station is the only egg facility, and, as of January 2020, we were one of only six companies (and ten sites) globally, to have received the Safe Quality Food Institute, or SQFI, Select Site certification, indicating that the site has voluntarily elected to undergo annual unannounced recertification audits by SQFI, the organization responsible for administering a global food safety and quality program known as the SQF Program. The design of Egg Central Station includes investments in support of each of our stakeholders, from our crew members (daylighting, climate control, slip resistant floors in the egg grading room), to the community and environment (consulting with the community before we built the facility, restoring native vegetation on the property, best-in-class stormwater management), to our customers and consumers (food safety and maintenance investments far beyond regulatory requirements). In November 2019, we began construction on a facility expansion that will nearly double our current square footage. This expansion will enable us to double our capacity to meet growing demand. We expect the expansion to be complete in mid-2022. We believe owning and operating this important element of

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our supply chain is a key differentiator and provides us with a competitive advantage, which we intend to continue to leverage to grow both our net revenue and gross margin.

Our loyal and growing consumer base has fueled the expansion of our brand from the natural channel to the mainstream channel and has facilitated our entry into the foodservice channel. As of December 2021, we offer 32 retail stock keeping units, or SKUs, through a multi-channel retail distribution network across more than 20,900 stores and an online shopping platform launched in 2021. Our products generate stronger velocities and, we believe, greater profitability per unit for our retail customers in key traffic-generating categories as compared to products offered by our competitors. We believe we have significant room for growth within the retail and, in the medium- to long-term, foodservice channels, and we believe that we can capture this opportunity by growing brand awareness and through new product innovation. We also believe there are incremental growth opportunities in additional distribution channels, including the convenience, drugstore, club, military and international markets, which we may access along with retail growth opportunities to enable us to continue our net revenue growth.

We have built a sustainable company founded on products that increasingly resonate with consumers. Our trusted brand and Conscious Capitalism-focused business model have resulted in significant growth. We have increased net revenue from $1.9 million in fiscal 2010 to $260.9 million in fiscal 2021, which represents a 56.5% compounded annual growth rate, or CAGR. From fiscal 2019 to fiscal 2021, we grew net revenue by 85%, and the number of stores carrying our products increased by 24%. Going forward, we believe the consumer movement away from factory farming practices will continue to fuel demand for our products. We believe these demands extend to the food industry and that consumers are recognizing the benefits of our egg and dairy products. Our management team is committed to ensuring our values remain aligned with those of our consumers while delivering stockholder value.

Evidence of our historical success in continuing to scale our business is shown in the graphics below. All dates refer to the year ended December 31, except for 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, which refer to the fiscal year ended December 30, December 29, December 27 and December 26, respectively. 

 

Number of Stores

 

Net Revenue

 

Gross Profit

 

 

$MM

$MM

 

Our History

Vital Farms was founded in 2007 on a 27-acre plot of land in Austin, Texas. Armed with a small flock of hens, the company maintained a strong belief that a varied diet and better animal welfare practices would lead to superior eggs. Our first sales came from farmers markets and restaurants around Austin and, less than a year later, our eggs were discovered by Whole Foods Market, Inc., or Whole Foods. The opportunity was identified to do something more than sell eggs to a few stores. The opportunity was to build a sustainable company that aligned with the family farming community and was able to profitably deliver quality products to a devoted consumer base. As our business has continued to grow, our model remains rooted in trust and mutual accountability with our farmers, who are and will remain core to our business.

In 2014, our current president and chief executive officer, Russell Diez-Canseco, joined Vital Farms and led the development of our large and scalable network of family farms. In 2015, recognizing the opportunity to elevate our production process and bolster long-term growth and profitability, we began the design process for Egg Central Station, which opened in 2017 in Springfield, Missouri. We meticulously designed Egg Central Station in service of all of our stakeholders by improving on the best practices we observed across numerous world-class facilities. Today, Egg Central Station is capable of packing three million eggs per day and has achieved an SQF Level 3 certification, the highest level of such certification recognized by GFSI. In addition, Egg Central Station is the only egg facility, and as of January 2020, we were one of only six companies (and ten sites) globally to have received the SQFI Select Site certification.

Demand for our high-quality products has enabled us to expand our brand beyond the natural channel and into the mainstream channel through relationships with Albertsons Companies, Inc., or Albertsons, The Kroger Co., or Kroger, Publix Super Markets, Inc., or Publix, Target Corporation, or Target, Walmart Inc., or Walmart, and numerous other national and regional food retailers. As of December 2021, our products are sold in more than 20,900 stores nationwide and through our online shopping platform. Over the

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course of our journey, our founder, Matthew O’Hayer, has continued to inform our strategic vision and remains intimately involved with the business as our executive chairman.

Our Purpose

Our purpose is to improve the lives of people, animals, and the planet through food. Our mission is to bring ethical food to the table. We carry out our purpose and mission by partnering with family farms that operate within our strictly defined set of ethically minded practices. We are motivated by the influence we have on rural communities through creating impactful, long-term business opportunities for family farmers. Moreover, we are driven to stand up for sustainable production practices that have been largely cast aside under the factory farming system. In our view, the factory farming system has been consistently misguided, focused on producing products at lowest cost rather than driving long-term and sustainable benefits for all stakeholders.

Since inception, our values have been rooted in the principles of Conscious Capitalism. We believe managing our business in the best interest of all of our stakeholders will result in a more successful and sustainable enterprise. A key premise of our business model is our consumer-centric approach, which focuses on identifying consumer needs and developing products that address these needs. While remaining committed to ethical decision-making, we have achieved strong financial performance and earned the Certified B Corporation designation, reflecting our role as a contributor to the global cultural shift toward redefining success in business in order to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. We believe our consumers connect with Vital Farms because they love our products, relate to our values and trust our practices.

Industry Overview

We operate in the large and growing U.S. natural food and beverage industry. Consumer awareness of the negative health, environmental and agricultural impacts of processed food and factory farming standards has resulted in increased consumer demand for ethically produced food. We believe this trend has had a meaningful impact on the growth of the natural food industry, which is increasingly penetrating the broader U.S. food market as mainstream retailers respond to consumer demand. We believe increased demand for natural food and a willingness to pay a premium for brands focused on transparency, sustainability and ethical values will continue to be a catalyst for our growth.

According to SPINS, LLC, or SPINS, data, the U.S. shell egg market accounted for approximately $6.2 billion in retail sales for the 52 weeks ended December 26, 2021 and grew at a CAGR of 0.4% between 2018 and December 2021. Our relatively low household penetration of 5.0%, compared to the shell egg category penetration of approximately 98%, provides a significant long-term growth opportunity for our business. According to SPINS data, the U.S. pasture-raised retail egg market accounted for approximately $303.0 million in retail sales for the 52 weeks ended December 26, 2021 and grew at a CAGR of 29% between 2018 and December 2021, while the specialty egg (including pasture-raised, free-range and cage-free) market accounted for approximately $1.3 billion in retail sales for the 52 weeks ended December 26, 2021 and grew at a CAGR of 10% between 2018 and December 2021. Additionally, we estimate that the U.S. processed egg market as of December 2021 accounted for approximately $3.3 billion in retail sales. According to SPINS data, the U.S. butter market accounted for approximately $3.5 billion in retail sales for the 52 weeks ended December 26, 2021 and grew at a CAGR of 2.5% between 2018 and December 2021. We believe the strength of our platform, coupled with significant investments in our crew members and infrastructure, position us to continue to deliver industry-leading growth across new and existing categories.

Our Strengths

Trusted Brand Aligned with Consumer Demands

We believe consumers have grown to trust our brand because of our adherence to our values and a high level of transparency. We have positioned our brand to capitalize on growing consumer interest in natural, clean-label, traceable, ethical, great-tasting and nutritious foods. Growing public awareness of major issues connected to animal farming, including human health, climate change and resource conservation, is closely aligned with our ethical mission. We believe consumers are increasingly focused on the source of their food and are willing to pay a premium for brands that deliver transparency, sustainability and integrity. As a company focused on driving the success of our stakeholders, our brand resonates with consumers who seek to align themselves with companies that share their values. Through our Vital Times newsletter and social media presence, we cultivate and support our relationship with consumers by communicating our values, building trust and promoting brand loyalty.

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Strategic and Valuable Brand for Retailers

Our historical performance has demonstrated that we are a strategic and valuable partner to retailers. We have innovated and grown into adjacent food categories while reaching a broad set of consumers through a variety of retail partners, including Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, Target and Walmart. As of December 2021, we are the number one or two egg brand by retail dollar sales for branded eggs with key customers such as Albertsons, Kroger, Sprouts Farmers Market, or Sprouts, Target and Whole Foods. We believe the success of our brand demonstrates that consumers are demanding premium products that meet a higher ethical standard. We have expanded into the mainstream channel while continuing to command premium prices for our products, which sell for as much as three times the price of commodity eggs. We believe that our products are more attractive to retail customers because they help generate growth, deliver strong gross profits and drive strong velocities, as represented by the natural channel velocities depicted below.

Vital Farms Natural Channel Velocity Versus All Other Competitors (1)

 

Refrigerated Eggs (2)

Refrigerated Butter (3)

 

 

 

 

Source: Refrigerated Eggs & Refrigerated Butter - Crown, Natural Channel, 52 Weeks Ended December 26, 2021

 

(1)

Channel Velocity ($ / Store / Item / Week) is defined as weekly sales per store per item of products sold in retailers included in the Natural Channel.

(2)

Refrigerated egg competitors represent shell eggs in the Natural Channel.

(3)

Refrigerated butter competitors represent butter brands in the Natural Channel, excluding clotted cream and clarified butter.

Supply Chain Rooted in Commitment to Our Stakeholders

Our ongoing commitment to the social and economic interests of our stakeholders guides our supply chain decisions. We carefully select and partner with family farms in the Pasture Belt, the U.S. region where our eggs can be produced year-round. We establish supply contracts that we believe are attractive for all parties, demonstrate our commitment to our network of family farms through educational programs that transfer critical best practice knowledge and pay farmers competitive prices for high-quality eggs. During fiscal year 2021, we experienced no voluntary attrition for supply contract renewals. We believe our commitment to farmers facilitates more sustainable farm operations and significantly reduces turnover. Our network of family farms gives us a strategic advantage through a scaled and sustainable supply chain and allows us to go to market with the highest quality premium products.

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Map of the Pasture Belt

Experienced and Passionate Team

We have an experienced and passionate executive management team that we refer to as the “C-crew,” which has approximately 100 years of combined industry experience and includes our president and chief executive officer, Russell Diez-Canseco, a seasoned food industry expert with over 17 years of relevant experience, including at H-E-B, a privately held supermarket chain. Our C-crew works in partnership with Matthew O’Hayer, our founder and executive chairman, who continues to inform our strategic vision with the entrepreneurial perspective gained through over 40 years of building businesses. We also have a deep bench of talent with strong business and operational experience, and crew members at all levels of our organization are passionate about addressing the needs of our stakeholders. We have leveraged the experience and passion of our C-crew, our founder and executive chairman, and our other crew members to grow net revenue over 253% since the beginning of 2017, enter our second major food category, butter, and build and expand our first shell egg processing facility, Egg Central Station.

Our Growth Strategies

We believe our investments in our brand, our stakeholders and our infrastructure position us to continue delivering industry-leading growth that outpaces both the natural food industry and the overall food industry.

Compete to Win in Our Current Categories

Continuing to compete at the top of our current categories will ensure we are continuing to earn trust with our fans across all consumer groups and fuel our continued profitable growth. We believe there is significant opportunity to grow volume with existing retail customers by building consumer awareness and demand for our brand. Our products generate stronger velocities and, we believe, greater profitability per unit for our retail customers in the categories in which we compete. By capturing greater shelf space, driving higher product velocities and increasing our average SKU count per retail partner, we believe there is meaningful runway for further growth with existing retail customers. Beyond our existing retail footprint, we believe there are significant opportunities to gain incremental stores from existing retail customers and to add new retail customers. We also believe there are significant further long-term opportunities in additional distribution channels, including the convenience, drugstore and club channels. Additionally, we believe there is significant demand for our products in the foodservice channel since we offer versatile ingredients with high menu penetrations across all commercial and non-commercial operator segments. We see considerable opportunity for medium- to long-term growth in this channel by increasing our category market share through sales to values-aligned foodservice operators and their distributors.  

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Expand Our Portfolio

We are a food company. In order to achieve our goal of becoming the most trusted food brand, we must expand beyond eggs and butter. We believe making strategic bets on larger-scale opportunities will support this expansion. The successes of our core products have confirmed our belief that there is significant demand for ethically produced food products, and our proprietary consumer surveys confirm our belief that there is significant demand for our brand across a wide spectrum of food categories. We expect to continue to extend our product offerings through innovation in both new and existing categories.

Strengthen the Brand

We will compete in the marketplace by aspiring to build the most trusted brand. Critical to the success of this mission is our ability to share our story with a broader audience. We intend to increase our household penetration by educating consumers about our brand, our values and the premium quality of our products. Our relatively low household penetration of 5.0% for our shell eggs, compared to the shell egg category penetration of approximately 98%, demonstrates that expanding the national presence of our brand offers a significant runway for future growth. We believe we are well positioned to increase household penetration of our products given their alignment with consumer trends and approachability with consumers. We intend to increase the number of consumers who buy our products by using digitally integrated media campaigns, social media tools and other owned media channels, and we believe these efforts will educate consumers on our values and the attractive attributes of our products, generate further demand for our products and ultimately expand our consumer base.

Scale a World-Class Organization

We have always believed that our most important competitive advantage is great people, operating as one, high-performing team in a strong culture, with the right tools to help us reach our potential, both individually and collectively. We have recently combined our strategic and people functions under a single leader to unify our organization in attracting talent that supports our growth initiatives and our culture. This effort is critical not only to our current success but the direction of our company in the future. As we continue our focus on scaling a world-class organization, we believe this tighter link between where we are going, the processes we will put in place to get there, and, most importantly, how we engage, inspire, and develop our crew members will fuel our continued growth.

 

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Product Overview

 

We produce products sourced from animals raised on family farms, including shell eggs, butter, hard-boiled eggs, liquid whole eggs, ghee and convenient breakfast offerings.

 

Shell Eggs

 

Our original and core product is shell eggs. We defined the pasture-raised egg category by following European-rooted standards codified by the Certified Humane Program, which require each hen to have at least 108 square feet of land and daily outdoor access. Our shell eggs are ethically produced, and our consumers consistently tell us that they provide a richer taste and color than other eggs on the market. The retail varieties of our shell eggs are based on supplemental feed type (certified organic, Non-GMO Project verified and conventional), egg size (medium, large, extra-large and jumbo) and pack size (6, 12 and 18 count).

 

Butter

 

In 2015, we saw an opportunity in the U.S. refrigerated value-added dairy market for premium butter with artisanal qualities, such as higher butterfat content, sea salt and traditional slow-churn methods. Our consumer research and basket analysis also identified butter as a highly complementary product category to eggs in terms of usage and buyer profile. Today, we offer unsalted and sea salted varieties of our butter, which has 85% butterfat and is sold in two-stick and four-stick packs. In addition, we offer a spreadable butter churned with avocado oil in a tub format.

 

Hard-Boiled Eggs and Liquid Whole Eggs

 

In March 2018, we launched hard-boiled eggs to broaden the appeal of our brand and satisfy an incremental usage occasion—ready-to-eat snacking. That launch was followed by the introduction of our liquid whole eggs in August 2019. We currently provide one of the only pasture-raised liquid whole egg offerings in the estimated $3.3 billion U.S. processed egg market, which has seen little innovation in decades and has traditionally been dominated by egg whites.

 

Ghee

 

In February 2019, we introduced ghee, followed in August 2019 by the release of a first-of-its-kind ghee in a squeeze bottle format. Our ghee meets the standards consumers expect from the Vital Farms brand and is offered in original and Himalayan pink salt varieties.

 

Convenient Breakfast

 

In August 2020, we introduced our egg bites. This product is made with ingredients such as pasture-raised eggs and cheese, vegetables and humanely raised meats. Our egg bites are gluten-free and are available in four flavors: uncured bacon and cheddar cheese; roasted red pepper and mozzarella cheese; ham, bell peppers, onions and cheddar cheese; and sun-dried tomato, basil and mozzarella cheese. Each package contains two fully cooked egg bites that can be warmed directly in the microwave for a convenient and high-protein breakfast or snack. In August 2021, we introduced our breakfast bars, warm, egg-based bars made with ethically sourced ingredients. Breakfast bars are available in four flavors: uncured bacon and cheddar cheese with hash browns; broccoli and cheddar cheese with a pastry crust; sausage and cheddar cheese with a cheese crust; and southwest fire roasted corn with sweet potato. In January 2022, we decided to discontinue our convenient breakfast offerings, which we anticipate will occur in full before year-end 2022.

 

Motivated by our mission, our success and our customers’ feedback, we continue to innovate and expand our product offering to address growing consumer demand.

SHELL EGGS

 

 

STICK & TUB BUTTER

 

 

HARD-BOILED EGGS

 

 

LIQUID WHOLE EGGS

 

 

GHEE

 

 

CONVENIENT BREAKFAST

 

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Innovation

The successes of our core products have confirmed our belief that there is significant demand for ethically produced food products. We expect to continue to expand our product offerings through innovation in both existing and new categories. We have a dedicated product development team that leverages comprehensive consumer insights and trend data to provide innovative solutions and ideas that meet new consumer needs and usage occasions. We also have a proven innovation model that utilizes a trusted network of partners to bring products to market without requiring significant upfront investment. We are committed to building on the success of our recent product launches and continuing to introduce consumers to our expanding range of product offerings.

 

Marketing

Our multi-faceted, consumer-centric marketing strategy has been instrumental in building our brand and driving net revenue. Our marketing strategy is aimed at solidifying our brand’s positioning as a leading provider of ethically minded food. We execute on this strategy by advertising through digitally integrated media campaigns, social media tools and other owned media channels. Our brand’s standout packaging has been a signature communication vehicle since our inception. We maintain a presence across all major social media platforms.

Our brand has grown rapidly into the #1 U.S. pasture-raised, #1 U.S. natural channel and #2 U.S. overall egg brand by retail dollar sales, with an 88% share of the U.S. pasture-raised retail egg market for the 52-week period ended December 26, 2021. Our brand awareness is represented by a strong social media following, with approximately 122,000 Instagram followers. Building on prior success, we will continue to invest in the brand through digitally integrated national media campaigns and build customer loyalty through other media formats, including our quirky Vital Times newsletter, now in its eleventh year of print, which is placed in each egg carton. During the past two years, we have circulated approximately 100 million copies of our Vital Times newsletter.

Building upon a landscape of shifting consumer preferences, we are focused on reaching new consumers to educate them about our ethically focused value proposition. We work continuously to understand our consumers and leverage those insights to develop impactful communication plans and messaging. We remain focused on deploying our sophisticated marketing capabilities and world-class sales team to ensure that both customers and consumers understand the Vital Farms story.

Our Customers

We market our products throughout the United States with the majority of our net revenue coming from our shell egg products. As of December 2021, we distribute through third parties and direct to retailers to reach more than 20,900 stores. With significant expansion in recent years, our retail sales are distributed between the natural channel and mainstream channel. Because of our brand equity, loyal consumer base and expanding line of high-quality products, we believe there are attractive growth opportunities across these channels, in addition to a sizable opportunity in the foodservice channel in the medium- to long-term. We believe there are also incremental growth opportunities in additional distribution channels, including the convenience, drugstore, club, military and international markets, which we may access along with retail growth opportunities to enable us to continue our net revenue growth.

Natural Channel

Natural channel retailers, including Whole Foods and Sprouts, represented approximately 51%, 47% and 42% of our retail dollar sales in fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Mainstream Channel

Widespread consumer demand for high-quality and traceable foods has driven our expansion into the mainstream channel with national retailers, including Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, Target and Walmart. We began selling eggs in select Kroger divisions in 2014. Since that time, Kroger has grown to become our second largest customer, offering our products in over 2,100 stores. We also continue to expand our relationships with Albertsons, Publix, Target and Walmart. The mainstream channel represented approximately 49%, 53% and 58% of our retail dollar sales in fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Foodservice Channel

In addition to our primary natural and mainstream channels, we have a presence in foodservice by selling shell and value-added eggs to hundreds of foodservice commercial and non-commercial operators across the country. We expect our foodservice business to

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continue to grow in the medium- to long-term through expansive new relationships with broad-line distributors, as well as regional and national restaurant chains. In fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021, the foodservice channel accounted for approximately 2%, 1% and 1%, respectively, of our net revenue. Our established foodservice partnerships help to extend our marketing efforts through unique co-branding opportunities. We plan to continue to capitalize on these opportunities as we work to introduce new products through the foodservice channel.

One example of our successful foodservice programs is HomeState, a Texas kitchen with four locations in Southern California. At the start of 2022, HomeState committed to exclusively using our liquid whole eggs for its breakfast tacos, branded with our logo on menus and throughout their guest experience assets. We have also built a robust marketing partnership with HomeState to enhance their perceived consumer value and increase consumer awareness of each of our brands via social media, public relations and other events.

Vital Farms and HomeState Co-Branding

 

 

Supply Chain

We have strategically designed our supply chain to ensure high production standards and optimal year-round operation. We are motivated by the positive impact we have on rural communities and enjoy a strong relationship and reputation with our network of more than 275 family farms. In order to capitalize on this strong supply network, we built a state-of-the-art shell egg processing facility, Egg Central Station in Springfield, Missouri. Egg Central Station is currently approximately 82,000 square feet and utilizes highly automated equipment to grade and package our shell egg products. The design of our facility includes investments in support of each of our stakeholders, from our crew members (daylighting, climate control, slip resistant floors in the egg grading room), to the community. This expansion will enable us to double our capacity to meet growing demand. We expect the expansion to be complete in mid-2022.

Our eggs are kept in on-farm coolers using precise equipment specified by us. The eggs are then collected on a regular basis by a third-party freight carrier and placed in cold storage until packing for shipment to customers. Each of our butter, ghee, hard-boiled eggs, liquid whole egg and convenient breakfast products have a dedicated co-manufacturing partner. To support the growth of our business, we are focused on expanding existing co-manufacturing relationships where appropriate and establishing new relationships.

Our egg packaging consists primarily of corrugated boxes and egg cartons, and we use a limited amount of recycled plastic packaging. Our corrugated boxes are sourced from a supplier in Springfield, Missouri, our egg cartons are sourced from Missouri, Canada, and Europe from a sole-source supplier and our recycled plastic packaging is sourced from Mexico from a single-source supplier. Our other products are packaged in jars, bottles, film and cartons that are primarily managed by our co-manufacturing partners. In every case, we strive to find the most sustainable and environmentally considered packaging, shipping materials and inks.

Competition

We operate in a highly competitive environment across each of our product categories. We have numerous competitors of varying sizes, including producers of private-label products as well as producers of other branded egg and butter products that compete for trade merchandising support and consumer dollars. We compete with large egg companies such as Cal-Maine, Inc. and large international food companies such as Ornua Co-operative Limited (Kerrygold). We also compete directly with local and regional egg and dairy companies, as well as private-label specialty products processed by other egg and dairy companies. In our market,

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competition is based on, among other things, product quality and taste, brand recognition and loyalty, product variety, product packaging and package design, shelf space, reputation, price, advertising, promotion and nutritional claims.

Shell eggs may be sourced from hens that are caged, cage-free, free-range or pasture-raised. Large egg companies offer commodity eggs sourced from caged hens, and in an attempt to address growing consumer demand for ethically produced and higher quality eggs, they have also grown their cage-free and free-range offerings.

Although we operate in competitive industries, we believe that we have a strong and sustainable competitive advantage based on an ongoing process of values-driven decisions, our fundamental commitment to producing ethically minded food, the trust we have developed in our brand and our ability to provide reliable supply to our distribution partners and customers. We built and operate what we believe is one of the largest sourcing and distribution networks of family farms with strong growth potential. By focusing on the interests of each of our stakeholders, we believe we have created a model that attracts the best family farm partners, produces the highest quality products and creates benefits for all parties. We believe our experience in building this network will provide significant scale and execution advantages as we continue to expand.

Government Regulation

We are subject to laws and regulations administered by various federal, state and local government agencies in the United States, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA; the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA; the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC; the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA; and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. These laws and regulations apply to the processing, packaging, distribution, sale, marketing, labeling, quality, safety and transportation of our products, as well as our occupational safety and health practices.

Under various federal statutes and implementing regulations, these agencies, among other things, prescribe the requirements and establish the standards for quality and safety and regulate our products and the manufacturing, labeling, marketing, promotion and advertising thereof. With respect to eggs in particular, the FDA and the USDA split jurisdiction depending on the type of product involved. While the FDA has primary responsibility for the regulation of shell eggs, the USDA has primary responsibility for the regulation of dried, frozen or liquid eggs and other “egg products,” subject to certain exceptions. In addition, with respect to meat products, the USDA has primary jurisdiction for the regulation of products made wholly or in part from cattle, sheep, swine, or goats, such as certain of our egg bite products which contain bacon or ham, subject to certain exceptions.

Among other things, the facilities in which our products are manufactured or processed must register with the FDA and/or the USDA, comply with current good manufacturing practices, or cGMPs, and comply with a range of food safety and labeling requirements established by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as amended by the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, the Egg Products Inspection Act, the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Organic Foods Production Act and the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, among other laws implemented by the FDA, the USDA and other regulators. The FDA and the USDA have the authority to inspect these facilities depending on the type of product involved; For example, Egg Central Station, our facility in Springfield, Missouri, has been subject to periodic inspections by the USDA to evaluate compliance with certain applicable requirements, and the FDA may likewise inspect the facility. The FDA and the USDA also require that certain nutrition and product information appear on our product labels and, more generally, that our labels and labeling be truthful and non-misleading. Similarly, the FTC requires that our marketing and advertising be truthful, non-misleading and not deceptive to consumers. We are also restricted from making certain types of claims about our products, including nutrient content claims, health claims, organic claims and claims regarding the effects of our products on any structure or function of the body, whether express or implied, unless we satisfy certain regulatory requirements. We also participate in the USDA’s voluntary egg grading program, which requires compliance with additional labeling and facility requirements.

In addition, our suppliers are subject to numerous regulatory requirements. For example, the farmers who produce our shell eggs may be subject to requirements implemented by the FDA pertaining to pest control, salmonella enteritidis prevention and other requirements.

We are also subject to state and local food safety regulation, including registration and licensing requirements for our facilities, enforcement of standards for our products and facilities by state and local health agencies, and regulation of our trade practices in connection with selling our products.

We are also subject to labor and employment laws, laws governing advertising, privacy laws, safety regulations and other laws, including consumer protection regulations that regulate retailers or govern the promotion and sale of merchandise. Our operations, and those of our co-manufacturers, distributors and suppliers, are subject to various laws and regulations relating to environmental protection and worker health and safety matters.

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Certified B Corporation

While not required by Delaware law or the terms of our certificate of incorporation, we have elected to have our social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency assessed against the proprietary criteria established by B Lab, an independent non-profit organization. As a result of this assessment, we were designated as a Certified B Corporation in December 2015.

In order to be designated as a Certified B Corporation, companies are required to take a comprehensive and objective assessment of their positive impact on society and the environment. The assessment evaluates how a company’s operations and business model impact its workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment using a 200-point scale. While the assessment varies depending on a company’s size (number of employees), sector and location, representative indicators in the assessment include payment above a living wage, employee benefits, stakeholder engagement, supporting underserved suppliers and environmental benefits from a company’s products or services. After completing the assessment, B Lab will verify the company’s score to determine if it meets the 80-point minimum bar for certification. The review process includes a phone review, a random selection of indicators for verifying documentation and a random selection of company locations for onsite reviews, including employee interviews and facility tours. Once certified, every Certified B Corporation must make its assessment score transparent on B Lab’s website.

Designation as a Certified B Corporation and continued certification is at the sole discretion of B Lab. To maintain our certification, we are required to update our assessment and verify our updated score with B Lab every three years. We were initially recertified in February 2018, began our latest reassessment process in 2021 and were most recently recertified in January 2022. Our Certified B Corporation designation remains in good standing.

Public Benefit Corporation Status

In connection with our Certified B Corporation status and as a demonstration of our long-term commitment to our mission to bring ethical food to the table by coordinating a network of family farms to operate with a well-defined set of organic agricultural practices that includes the humane treatment of farm animals as a central tenet, we elected in October 2017 to be treated as a public benefit corporation under Delaware law.

Under Delaware law, a public benefit corporation is required to identify in its certificate of incorporation the public benefit or benefits it will promote, and its directors have a duty to manage the affairs of the corporation in a manner that balances the pecuniary interests of the corporation’s stockholders, the best interests of those materially affected by the corporation’s conduct, and the specific public benefit or benefits identified in the certificate of incorporation. Public benefit corporations organized in Delaware are also required to assess their benefit performance internally and to disclose to stockholders at least biennially a report detailing their success in meeting their benefit objectives.

As provided in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, the public benefits that we promote, and pursuant to which we manage our company, are: (i) bringing ethically produced food to the table; (ii) bringing joy to our customers through products and services; (iii) allowing crew members to thrive in an empowering, fun environment; (iv) fostering lasting partnerships with our farms and suppliers; (v) forging an enduring profitable business; and (vi) being stewards of our animals, land, air and water, and being supportive of our community.

Environmental, Social and Governance

At Vital Farms, we are dedicated to creating long-term benefits through sustainable practices for our stockholders, crew members, farmers and suppliers, customers and consumers, communities and the environment. We promote sustainable practices and place an emphasis on being conscious environmental stewards. Our commitment to bringing ethical food to the table has enabled us to integrate sustainable practices throughout our business. Our dedication to our stakeholders inspires us to continuously raise our standards and practices.

In 2021, we conducted an assessment to advance our environmental, social and governance, or ESG, strategy. We engaged key stakeholders across our organization, including investors, crew members, and customers, to identify the ESG issues that are most impactful to our business and most important to them. The process helped us to identify key risks and opportunities while maintaining our stakeholder-driven approach. The identification of these risks and opportunities will help to guide our approach to aligning our business and our ESG priorities.

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To ensure that ESG is prioritized throughout our business, the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee of our Board of Directors has been tasked with oversight of our strategy, initiatives, policies, practices and reporting relating to ESG matters. Additionally, we have adopted several policies to uphold our commitment to our values across our business and operations, including a Human Rights Policy, a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or DEI, Policy, a Health and Workplace Safety Policy and a Supplier Code of Conduct.

We are committed to building a people-first culture that embodies our values and understands the unique needs of our crew members. We will continue to hold ourselves accountable to the important role we play in helping transition the world around us to a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive place. In 2021, we appointed our first Head of DEI and established an internal Diversity Council to oversee our DEI approach and initiatives. See the section titled “—Culture and Human Capital” below for further information about our commitment to a diverse crew and an inclusive work environment.

We acknowledge the potential threat that climate change may have on our business and are committed to taking action to mitigate our emissions and overall environmental risk. In 2021, we began to track and analyze our greenhouse gas emissions to understand and mitigate our carbon footprint. Additionally, we have engaged a third-party organization to identify and assess water risks relative to our business and operations.

We believe in providing transparent disclosure of our ESG efforts and communicating our progress with stakeholders. To that end, we released our inaugural Sustainability Report in March 2022. To learn more about our ESG efforts and our relevant ESG policies, please visit our investor relations website: investors.vitalfarms.com. Information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report or any of our other filings with the SEC. We welcome our stakeholders’ feedback on our approach to ESG and can be contacted at investors@vitalfarms.com.

Seasonality

Demand for shell eggs fluctuates in response to seasonal factors. Shell egg demand tends to increase with the start of the school year, is highest prior to holiday periods, particularly Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, and is lowest during the summer months. As a result of these seasonal and quarterly fluctuations, comparisons of our sales and operating results between different quarters within a single fiscal year are not necessarily meaningful comparisons.

Trademarks and Other Intellectual Property

We own trademarks and other proprietary rights that are important to our business, including our principal trademark, Vital Farms. All of our trademarks are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Our trademarks are valuable assets that reinforce the distinctiveness of our brand to our consumers. We believe the protection of our trademarks, copyrights and domain names are important to our success. We aggressively protect our intellectual property rights by relying on trademark and copyright.

Culture and Human Capital

Our Conscious Commitment

Our commitment to prioritizing the long-term benefits of each of our stakeholders includes our talented and passionate crew members, employees who are invaluable to our business. Prioritizing Conscious Capitalism, our business decisions consider the impact on all of our stakeholders, which we believe helps us to create a more sustainable and successful business.

Vital Farms is committed to fostering an environment that values collaboration, trust, and respect. Furthermore, we endeavor to provide our crew members with the resources they need to be successful through culture-enhancing programs and professional development opportunities.

At Vital Farms, we believe in cultivating meaningful opportunities, from supporting the economic well-being of the family farmers in our network to fostering a collaborative and inspiring environment for our crew members across the country.

 

Crew Attraction, Development and Retention

Through a thoughtful and thorough screening process, we bring crew members into the business who we believe are aligned to our values and culture. In the fiscal year ended December 26, 2021, we received 21,651 direct employment applications and hired 171 new crew members. In fiscal 2021, we surveyed new hires within their first week of employment to gather feedback on their orientation experience, and 96% of those surveyed indicated that they had a positive orientation experience. The Vital Farms crew

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member journey, including recruiting, onboarding and each step of the career experience, is guided by the philosophy of supporting a people-first culture. We believe in enabling our crew members to grow both professionally and personally. We cultivate leaders across every level of the business and are committed to building a culture that embodies our values and understands the unique needs of our crew members. This commitment is evidenced by our Leadership Academy for all people managers at our Egg Central Station facility and our extensive online learning platform available to in-person and remote crew members, providing training options for both functional and interpersonal skills.

We believe in a culture of transparency and ownership. We communicate regularly with our crew members across departments and position levels, including through weekly team huddles at Egg Central Station and monthly all-company meetings that include executive question-and-answer sessions. These frequent touchpoints are focused on helping crew members feel connected to our mission and empowered to make informed decisions that drive our business forward. At Egg Central Station, we maintain an “idea board” for crew members to share suggestions on how to make the workplace experience more engaging, and we have implemented over 30% of the suggestions shared.

In 2020, we spent time listening to our crew members to understand how they felt about returning to the office and learned that the majority appreciated the flexibility of working from home. As a result, in 2021 we made the decision to support their preference and transitioned to a remote workforce for our crew members outside Egg Central Station. We believe this transition has enabled us to attract top talent across the country and has had a positive impact on crew member retention and engagement. We see examples of this daily, with everything from children popping in to say “hi” during team meetings to crew members appreciating the ability to take care of family needs when necessary. We believe we have an extreme acceptance of our crew members’ needs and are pleased that we foster a culture where they can bring their full selves to work.

 

Workplace Health and Safety

Particularly in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the safety and well-being of our crew a top priority and have implemented a number of features to ensure our crew members feel safe, engaged and valued. At Egg Central Station, these features include identification of opportunities to automate more physically challenging processes, offering subsidies to purchase slip-resistant and safety toe shoes and partnering with a local sports medicine practice for regular training of Egg Central Station crew members on ergonomics. Additionally, we have implemented and continue to follow an internal COVID-19 protocol and preventative measures to protect the health and safety of our crew members, customers and communities.  

What We Value

We have defined our company values as (1) Be Humble, (2) Act Like an Owner, (3) Lead with a Growth Mindset, (4) Practice Empathy and (5) Compete to Win. We strive to create a culture that reflects these important pillars of our business.

 

We are Humble: We recognize that we win and lose as a team, and we leave our egos at the door. We orient crew members towards common priorities by communicating these priorities throughout the organization. Additionally, each quarter, crew members and their managers discuss professional development and set individual goals. We hold ourselves accountable to business objectives and know that we can all improve through continuous feedback.

 

We Act Like Owners: We know our crew plays a critical role in our success and want them to have a stake in the outcome that they help create. We provide our crew members with competitive compensation. At our Egg Central Station facility in Springfield, Missouri, our hourly crew members are paid wages that are least 25% above the living wage for an individual without children in this market. All full-time crew members are eligible for health insurance, paid parental leave, retirement contributions, equity grants and complementary Vital Farms products.

 

We Lead with a Growth Mindset: We bring the drive to succeed, the desire to learn and the energy to keep raising the standards on everything we do. We offer a wealth of learning opportunities to our crew through our online training platform and host a variety of live training sessions each month covering a range of topics, including financial wellness, goal setting, giving and receiving feedback, technological literacy and unconscious bias. Since the launch of our online training platform in June 2020, crew members have completed over 2,800 online courses.

 

We Practice Empathy: We know that we get to better answers when we incorporate different perspectives and experiences into our work. We believe a diverse, equitable and inclusive crew is crucial to our long-term success as a business and a priority for us as our values remain rooted in Conscious Capitalism. As part of this commitment, we began a partnership in September 2020 with the National Diversity Council, or NDC, a national non-profit organization committed to fostering an environment for organizations to grow in their knowledge of diversity and their ability to practice empathy for others. Our work with the NDC has involved a DEI audit, which reviewed our current and historic hiring practices and compensation and promotion data. The audit was qualitative and quantitative, including an analysis of company data, a company-wide survey, focus groups and direct conversations with leaders and crew members.

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Following the audit, the NDC found zero pay, promotion or performance inequities among our crew. Under our newly hired Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, together with an internal Diversity Council consisting of five crew-led DEI committees, we plan to implement a comprehensive DEI action plan that aligns with certain of the recommendations received from the NDC, including expanded training for our crew members on DEI topics and further partnerships with our community to bolster our diversity recruiting efforts and support for underrepresented communities.

 

We Compete to Win: We are fierce competitors who like to win for all of our stakeholders, and we believe that prioritizing our stakeholders’ long-term viability will produce stronger outcomes, for everyone, over time. Our business model is not a trade-off between purpose and profit; rather, we believe that our purpose of improving the lives of people, animals and the planet through food has always been a critical driver of our growth.

Our Crew Members

As of December 26, 2021, we had approximately 288 full-time crew members, including 169 in operations, 42 in sales and marketing, 21 in finance and 39 in general and administrative functions, all of whom are located in the United States. Of our full-time crew members, three are contract workers. As of December 26, 2021, approximately 45% of our full-time crew members were women and approximately 17% were members of underrepresented minority groups. None of our crew members is represented by a labor union. We have never experienced a labor-related work stoppage, and we consider our relations with our crew members to be good.

 

Our Corporate Information

We were founded in 2007, originally incorporated in Texas in July 2009 and reincorporated in Delaware in June 2013, and we became a public benefit corporation in Delaware in October 2017. Our principal executive offices are located at 3601 South Congress Avenue, Suite C100, Austin, Texas 78704, and our telephone number is (877) 455-3063. Our website address is www.vitalfarms.com. Information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report or any of our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. We make available on our website, free of charge, our Annual Report on Form 10-K, our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and our Current Reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. The SEC maintains a website that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding our filings at www.sec.gov.

 

Item 1A. Risk Factors.

Our operations and financial results are subject to various risks and uncertainties. The following is a description of the known factors that may materially affect our business, results of operations or financial condition. You should carefully consider the following risk factors, as well as the other information in this Annual Report. If any of the following risks actually occurs, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected. In this case, the trading price of our common stock would likely decline. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial also may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

Summary of Selected Risks Associated with Our Business

Our business faces significant risks and uncertainties. If any of the following risks are realized, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. These risks include, among others, the following:

 

Our recent, rapid growth may not be indicative of our future growth, and if we continue to grow rapidly, we may not be able to effectively manage our growth or evaluate our future prospects. If we fail to effectively manage our future growth or evaluate our future prospects, our business could be adversely affected.

 

We have incurred net losses in the past and we may not be able to maintain or increase our profitability in the future.

 

We have only recently expanded our product offerings beyond shell eggs and butter, which makes it difficult to forecast our future results of operations.

 

Sales of shell eggs contribute to the vast majority of our revenue, and a reduction in these sales would have an adverse effect on our financial condition.  

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Failure to introduce successful new products or to successfully pursue growth by other means may adversely affect our ability to continue to grow.

 

We are dependent on the market for shell eggs, and fluctuations in this market could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Fluctuations in commodity prices and in the availability of feed grains could negatively impact our results of operations and financial condition.

 

If we fail to effectively expand our processing, manufacturing and production capacity as we continue to grow and scale our business, our business and operating results and our brand reputation could be harmed.

 

A substantial amount of our shell eggs are processed at Egg Central Station in Springfield, Missouri. Any damage or disruption at this facility may harm our business.

 

We are currently expanding Egg Central Station, and we may not successfully complete construction of or commence operations in this expansion, we may not be successful in adequately staffing the expanded facility to meet production needs or the expanded facility may not operate in accordance with our expectations.

 

If we fail to effectively maintain or expand our network of family farms, our business, operating results and brand reputation could be harmed.

 

Our future business, results of operations and financial condition may be adversely affected by reduced or limited availability of eggs, cream and other raw materials that meet our standards.

 

We may not be able to compete successfully in our highly competitive market.

 

We currently have a limited number of co-manufacturers. Loss of one or more of our co-manufacturers or our failure to timely identify and establish relationships with new co-manufacturers could harm our business and impede our growth.

 

We could be adversely affected by a change in consumer preferences, perception and spending habits in the natural food industry generally and on animal-based products- in particular, and failure to develop or enrich our product offering or gain market acceptance of our new products could have a negative effect on our business.

 

A limited number of distributors represent a substantial portion of our sales, and the loss of one or more distributor relationships that cannot be replaced in a timely manner may adversely affect our results of operations.

 

We are dependent on hatcheries and pullet farms to supply our network of family farms with laying hens. Any disruption in that supply chain could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

 

Consolidation of retain customers or the loss of a significant retail customer could negatively impact our sales and profitability.

 

Failure by our transportation providers to pick up raw materials or deliver our products on time, in compliance with applicable governmental regulations or at all, could result in lost sales.

 

We source substantially all of our shell egg cartons from a sole source supplier, and any disruptions may impact our ability to sell our eggs.

 

Because we rely on a limited number of third-party vendors to manufacture and store our products, we may not be able to maintain manufacturing and storage capacity at the times and with the capacities necessary to produce and store our products or meet the demand for our products.

 

Our brand and reputation may be diminished due to real or perceived quality or food safety issues with our products, which could have an adverse effect on our business, reputation, operating results and financial condition.

 

Demand for shell eggs is subject to seasonal fluctuations and can adversely impact our results of operations in certain quarters.

 

Packaging costs are volatile and may rise significantly, which may negatively impact our profitability, and any reduced availability of packaging supplies may otherwise impact our business.

 

If we fail to retain and motivate members of our management team or other key crew members, fail to attract and retain additional crew members or fail to maintain our company culture and focus on our purpose, our business may be harmed.

 

Outbreaks of agricultural diseases, including avian influenza, the perception that outbreaks may occur or regulatory or market responses to outbreaks could reduce demand for our products and harm our business.

 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

Food safety and food-borne illness incidents or advertising or product mislabeling may materially and adversely affect our business by exposing us to lawsuits, product recalls or regulatory enforcement actions, increasing our operating costs and reducing demand for our product offerings.

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Our operations are subject to FDA and USDA federal regulation, as well as other federal, state and local regulations, and there is no assurance that we will be in compliance with all regulations.

 

Our status as a public benefit corporation and a Certified B corporation may not result in the benefits we anticipate, and as a public benefit corporation, our duty to balance a variety of interests may result in actions that do not maximize stockholder value.

 

Risks Related to Our Growth and Capital Requirements

Our recent, rapid growth may not be indicative of our future growth, and if we continue to grow rapidly, we may not be able to effectively manage our growth or evaluate our future prospects. If we fail to effectively manage our future growth or evaluate our future prospects, our business could be adversely affected.

We have grown rapidly since inception and anticipate further growth. For example, our net revenue increased from $140.7 million in fiscal 2019 to $214.3 million in fiscal 2020 to $260.9 million in fiscal 2021. This growth has placed significant demands on our management, financial, operational, technological and other resources. The anticipated growth and expansion of our business depends on a number of factors, including our ability to:

 

increase awareness of our brand and successfully compete with other companies;

 

price our products effectively so that we are able to attract new customers and consumers and expand sales to our existing customers and consumers;

 

expand distribution to new points of sales with new and existing customers;

 

continue to innovate and introduce new products;

 

expand our supplier, co-manufacturing, co-packing, cold storage, processing and distribution capacities;

 

invest in information technology systems and related process and procedures improvements; and

 

maintain quality control over our product offerings.

Such growth and expansion of our business will place significant demands on our management and operations teams and require significant additional resources, financial and otherwise, to meet our needs, which may not be available in a cost-effective manner, or at all. We expect to continue to expend substantial resources on:

 

our current and future processing facilities;

 

our sales and marketing efforts to increase brand awareness, engage our existing and prospective customers, and drive sales of our products;

 

product innovation and development; and

 

general administration, including increased finance, legal and accounting expenses associated with being a public company.

These investments may not result in the growth of our business. Even if these investments do result in the growth of our business, if we do not effectively manage our growth, we may not be able to execute on our business plan, respond to competitive pressures, take advantage of market opportunities, satisfy customer requirements or maintain high-quality product offerings, any of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We have incurred net losses in the past and we may not be able to maintain or increase our profitability in the future.

For fiscal 2019, fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2021, we generated net income of $3.3 million, $9.0 million and $2.4 million, respectively. However, we have experienced net losses in prior years, including a net loss of $2.1 million in fiscal 2017. Our ability to maintain or increase our profitability is subject to various factors, many of which are beyond our control. As we expand our operations, we anticipate that our operating expenses and capital expenditures will increase substantially in the foreseeable future as we continue to invest to increase our household penetration, customer base, supplier network, marketing channels and product portfolio, expand and enhance our processing, manufacturing and distribution facilities as needed, and hire additional crew members. Our expansion efforts may prove more expensive than we anticipate (including as a result of increases in equipment prices or transportation costs, which may be due to actual or threatened disruptions in our supply chain relating to public health pandemics, such as COVID-19, trade wars or other factors), and we may not succeed in increasing our net revenue and margins sufficiently to offset the anticipated higher expenses. We have incurred significant expenses in connection with investing in our egg processing facility, our co-manufacturing and co-packing relationships, and obtaining and storing raw materials, and we will continue to incur significant expenses in developing and marketing products. In addition, many of our expenses, including the costs associated with our

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existing and any future processing and manufacturing facilities, are fixed. We also expect to continue to incur significant additional legal, accounting and other expenses as a public company that we did not incur as a private company. If we fail to continue to grow our revenue at a greater rate than our costs and expenses, we may be unable to maintain or increase our profitability and may incur losses in the future.

We have only recently expanded our product offerings beyond shell eggs and butter, which makes it difficult to forecast our future results of operations.

We have only recently expanded our product offerings beyond shell eggs and butter. As a result of our limited experience managing multiple product lines, our ability to accurately forecast our future results of operations is limited and subject to a number of uncertainties, including our ability to plan for and model future growth. Our historical revenue growth should not be considered indicative of our future performance. Further, in future periods, our revenue growth could slow or our revenue could decline for a number of reasons, including slowing demand for our products, increasing competition, a decrease in the growth of our overall market, or our failure, for any reason, to continue to take advantage of growth opportunities. If our assumptions regarding these risks and uncertainties and our future revenue growth are incorrect or change, or if we do not address these risks successfully, our operating and financial results could differ materially from our expectations, and our business could suffer.

Sales of shell eggs contribute the vast majority of our net revenue, and a reduction in these sales would have an adverse effect on our financial condition.

Shell eggs accounted for approximately 90% of our net revenue in fiscal 2019, 90% of our net revenue in fiscal 2020 and 89% of our net revenue in fiscal 2021. Shell eggs are our flagship product and have been the focal point of our sales and marketing efforts, and we believe that sales of shell eggs will continue to constitute a significant portion of our net revenue, net income and cash flow for the foreseeable future. We cannot be certain that we will be able to continue to expand sales, processing and distribution of shell eggs, or that consumer and customer demand for our other existing and future products will expand to allow such products to represent a larger percentage of our revenue than they do currently. Accordingly, any factor adversely affecting sales of our shell eggs could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Failure to introduce successful new products or to successfully pursue growth by other means may adversely affect our ability to continue to grow.

One element of our growth strategy depends on our ability to develop and market new products that meet our standards for quality and appeal to consumer preferences. The success of our innovation and product development efforts is affected by our ability to anticipate changes in consumer preferences, the technical capability of our innovation staff in developing and testing product prototypes, our ability to comply with applicable governmental regulations, and the success of our management and sales and marketing teams in introducing and marketing new products. There can be no assurance that we will successfully develop and market new products that appeal to consumers. For example, in January 2022, we decided to discontinue our convenient breakfast offerings due primarily to financial performance, supply chain complexities and product shelf life limitations. Any failure to successfully develop, market and launch future products may lead to a decrease in our growth, sales and profitability.

Additionally, the development and introduction of new products requires substantial marketing expenditures, which we may be unable to recoup if the new products do not gain widespread market acceptance. If we are unsuccessful in meeting our objectives with respect to new or improved products, our business could be harmed.

Further risks are presented if we elect to pursue growth by means other than new product introductions, including acquisitions or investments in business or technologies that we believe could offer growth opportunities. The pursuit of such growth opportunities may divert the attention of management. Furthermore, it may cause us to incur various costs and expenses in identifying, investigating, and pursuing such transactions, regardless of whether such opportunities are realized. Such acquisitions, transactions or investments may also result in potentially dilutive equity issuances, the incurrence of debt or contingent liabilities or challenges with integration, any of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We estimate market opportunity and forecast market growth that may prove to be inaccurate, and even if the market in which we compete achieves the forecasted growth, our business could fail to grow at similar rates, if at all.

Our estimates of market opportunity and growth forecasts included in this Annual Report are subject to significant uncertainty and are based on assumptions and estimates that may not prove to be accurate, particularly in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic impact. The variables that go into the calculation of our market opportunity are subject to change over time, and there is no guarantee that any particular number or percentage of customers covered by our market opportunity estimates will purchase our products at all or generate any particular level of revenue for us. Any expansion in our market depends on

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a number of factors, including the cost and perceived value associated with our products and those of our competitors. Even if the market in which we compete meets the size estimates and growth forecast, our business could fail to grow at the rate we anticipate, if at all. Our growth is subject to many factors, including our success in implementing our business strategy, which is subject to many risks and uncertainties. Accordingly, the forecasts of market growth included herein should not be taken as indicative of our future growth.

We may require additional financing to achieve our goals, and the failure to obtain this necessary capital when needed on acceptable terms, or at all, may force us to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our product manufacturing and development, and other operations.

We have funded our operations since inception primarily through equity financings and sales of our products. We have incurred and expect to continue to incur significant expenses related to the expansion of our egg packing capacity, including through our expansion of Egg Central Station. We believe that we will continue to expend substantial resources for the foreseeable future as we consider additional markets we may choose to pursue. These expenditures are expected to include working capital, costs associated with research and development, manufacturing and supply, as well as marketing and selling existing and new products. In addition, other unanticipated costs may arise.

We expect that our existing cash will be sufficient to fund our planned operating expenses, capital expenditure requirements and debt service payments through at least the next 12 months. However, our operating plan may change because of factors currently unknown to us, and we may need to seek additional funds sooner than planned, through public or private equity or debt financings or other sources, such as strategic collaborations. Such financings may result in dilution to stockholders, imposition of debt covenants and repayment obligations, or other restrictions that may adversely affect our business. In addition, we may seek additional capital due to favorable market conditions or strategic considerations even if we believe we have sufficient funds for our current or future operating plans.

Risks Related to Our Business, Our Brand, Our Products and Our Industry

We are dependent on the market for shell eggs, and fluctuations in this market could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We contract with family farms to purchase all of their egg production for the duration of our contracts. We are contractually obligated to purchase these eggs irrespective of our ability to sell such eggs. Periodically in our industry, including recently, there has been an oversupply of eggs, which has caused egg prices to contract, sometimes substantially so, and as a result we have sold or donated our excess supply at reduced prices or no cost. If we are unable to sell such eggs upon commercially reasonable terms, or at all, our gross margins, business, financial condition and operating results may be adversely affected.

We also sell shell eggs to consumers at a premium price point, and when prices for commodity shell eggs fall relative to the price of our shell eggs, price-sensitive consumers may choose to purchase commodity shell eggs offered by our competitors at a greater velocity than, or instead of, our eggs. As a result, low commodity shell egg prices may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We also sell a small percentage of our shell eggs to wholesalers and egg breaking plants at commodity shell egg prices, which fluctuate widely and are outside our control. Small increases in production, or small decreases in demand, can have a large adverse effect on the prices at which these eggs are sold.

Fluctuations in commodity prices and in the availability of feed grains could negatively impact our results of operations and financial condition.

The price we pay to purchase shell eggs from farmers fluctuates based on pallet weight and is also indexed quarterly in arrears for changes in feed cost, which may cause our agreed-upon pricing under these contracts to fluctuate on a quarterly basis. Therefore, our results of operations and financial condition, including our gross margin and profitability, fluctuate based on the cost and supply of commodities, including corn, soybean meal and other feed ingredients.

Although feed ingredients are available from a number of sources, we have little, if any, control over the prices of these ingredients, which are affected by weather, speculators, export restrictions, various supply and demand factors, transportation and storage costs, and agricultural and energy policies in the United States and internationally. We saw increasing prices for conventional and organic corn and soybean crops on a global basis in 2021.

We may not be able to increase our product prices enough or in a timely manner to sufficiently offset increased commodity costs due to consumer price sensitivity or the pricing postures of our competitors and, in many cases, our retailers may not accept a price increase or may require price increases to occur after a specified period of time elapses. In addition, if we increase prices to

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offset higher commodity costs, we could experience lower demand for our products, decreased ability to attract new customers and lower sales volumes. Over time, if we are unable to price our products to cover increased costs, unable to offset operating cost increases with continuous improvement savings or unsuccessful in any commodity-hedging program, then commodity price volatility or increases could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

If we fail to effectively expand our processing, manufacturing and production capacity as we continue to grow and scale our business, our business and operating results and our brand reputation could be harmed.

While our current supply, processing and manufacturing capabilities are sufficient to meet our present business needs, we may need to expand these capabilities in the future as we continue to grow and scale our business. For example, we are in the process of expanding Egg Central Station, our shell egg processing facility, to increase our capacity for the distribution of shell eggs. However, there is risk in our ability to effectively scale production and processing and effectively manage our supply chain requirements. We must accurately forecast demand for our products in order to ensure we have adequate processing and manufacturing capacity to effectively allocate product supply across our stock keeping units, or SKUs.

Our forecasts are based on multiple assumptions which may be inaccurate and affect our ability to obtain our own adequate processing and manufacturing capacities (or co-processing and co-manufacturing capacities) in order to meet the demand for our products, which could prevent us from meeting increased customer demand.

Our brand and our business could be harmed if we are unable to fulfill orders in a timely manner or at all. If we fail to meet demand for our products and, as a result, consumers who have previously purchased our products buy other brands or our retailers allocate shelf space to other brands, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

On the other hand, if we overestimate our demand (in general or on a particular SKU) or overbuild our capacity relative to distribution, we may have significantly underutilized supply or other assets and may experience reduced margins. If we do not accurately align our processing and manufacturing capabilities with demand, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

A substantial amount of our shell eggs are processed at Egg Central Station in Springfield, Missouri. Any damage or disruption at this facility may harm our business.

A substantial amount of our shell egg processing occurs at Egg Central Station, our shell egg processing facility in Springfield, Missouri. Any shutdown or period of reduced production at Egg Central Station, which may be caused by regulatory noncompliance or other issues, as well as other factors beyond our control, such as natural disaster, fire, power interruption, work stoppage, disease outbreaks or pandemics (such as COVID-19), equipment failure or delay in raw materials delivery, would significantly disrupt our ability to deliver our products in a timely manner, meet our contractual obligations and operate our business. Further, the processing equipment used for our shell eggs is costly to replace or repair, particularly because certain of our processing equipment is sourced internationally, and our equipment supply chains may be disrupted in connection with pandemics, such as COVID-19, trade wars or other factors. If any material amount of our machinery were damaged, we could be unable to predict when, if at all, we could replace or repair such machinery or find co-manufacturers with suitable alternative machinery, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results. We have property and business disruption insurance in place for Egg Central Station; however, such insurance coverage may not be sufficient to cover all of our potential losses and may not continue to be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all.

We are currently expanding Egg Central Station, and we may not successfully complete the construction of or commence operations in this expansion, we may not be successful in adequately staffing the expanded facility to meet production needs or the expanded facility may not operate in accordance with our expectations.

In January 2019, we commenced design of an expansion of Egg Central Station, our shell egg processing facility, in order to address our rapid growth and increase our shell egg processing capacity. Constructing and commencing operations at this expanded facility has required, and will continue to require, significant capital expenditures and the efforts and attention of our management and other personnel, which has and will continue to divert resources from our existing business or operations. In addition, we will need to hire and retain more crew members to operate the expanded facility. In Springfield, Missouri, where Egg Central Station is located, there is a tight labor market. If we are unable to hire and train additional crew members due to the current labor market (or as a result of other labor disruptions, including due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic), our ability to fully realize the benefits of the expanded facility may be materially limited. Even if the expanded facility is brought up to full processing capacity, it may not provide us with all of the operational and financial benefits we expect to receive.

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Increased transportation and freight costs or failure by our transportation providers to pick up raw materials or deliver our products on time, in compliance with applicable governmental regulations or at all, could adversely impact our operating results.

We currently rely upon third-party transportation providers for a significant portion of our raw material transportation and product shipments. Our utilization of pickup and delivery services for shipments is subject to risks, including increases in fuel prices, chronic driver shortages, trucking capacity limitations due to general increases in freight demand, employee and contractor strikes or unavailability (including due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic) or inclement weather, any of which could increase our transportation and freight costs. For example, due in part to increased labor costs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw increased transportation and freight costs during 2021, and we expect that these elevated costs could remain in effect for the foreseeable future. Further increases in transportation and freight costs could have an adverse effect on our ability to increase or to maintain production on a profitable basis and could therefore adversely affect our operating results. We may not be able to increase our product prices enough or in a timely manner to sufficiently offset increased transportation costs due to consumer price sensitivity or the pricing postures of our competitors and, in many cases, our retailers may not accept a price increase or may require price increases to occur after a specified period of time elapses. In addition, if we increase prices to offset higher transportation and freight costs, we could experience lower demand for our products, decreased ability to attract new customers and lower sales volumes.

Furthermore, noncompliance by our third-party transportation providers with applicable regulatory requirements may impact the ability of providers to provide delivery services that adequately meet our shipping needs. Due to increased costs or noncompliance by our transportation providers with applicable regulatory requirements, we may change shipping companies, and we could face logistical difficulties with any such change that could adversely affect deliveries. In addition, we could incur costs and expend resources in connection with such change. Moreover, we may not be able to obtain terms as favorable as those we receive from the third-party transportation providers that we currently use, which in turn would increase our costs and thereby adversely affect our operating results.

If we fail to effectively maintain or expand our network of family farms, our business, operating results and brand reputation could be harmed.

We source our eggs and cream for our products from our network of family farms, which is the foundation of our supply chain. If we are unable to maintain and expand this supply chain because of actions taken by farmers or other events outside of our control, we may be unable to timely supply distributors and customers with our products, which could lead to cancellation of purchase orders, damage to our commercial relationships and impairment of our brand. For example, we require these farmers to build and equip their farms to certain specifications, which requires a significant upfront capital investment, and any inability of farmers to obtain adequate financing on acceptable terms would impair their ability to partner with us. If our relationship with these farmers is disrupted, we may not be able to fully recover our investments in birds and feed, which would negatively impact our operating results. There are a number of factors that could impair our relationship with farmers, many of which are outside of our control. For example, while we strive to operate our business in a manner that drives long-term and sustainable benefits for our stakeholders, including farmers, we may make strategic decisions that the farmers do not believe align with their interests or values, which could cause the farmers to terminate their relationships with us. Any failure to maintain or expand our network of family farms would adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.  

Our future business, results of operations and financial condition may be adversely affected by reduced or limited availability of eggs, cream and other raw materials that meet our standards.

Our ability to ensure a continuing supply of eggs, cream and other raw materials for our products at competitive prices depends on many factors beyond our control. In particular, we rely on the farms that supply us with eggs and cream to implement controls and procedures to manage the risk of exposing animals to harmful diseases, but outbreaks may occur despite their efforts. An outbreak of disease could result in increased government restriction on the sale and distribution of our products, and negative publicity could impact customer and consumer perception of our products, even if an outbreak does not directly impact the animals from which we source our products. Our network of family farms for our shell eggs is in a geographic region we refer to as the Pasture Belt, which is a term we use that refers to the U.S. region where our eggs can be produced year-round. Our cream supply is located in Ohio and New York. The occurrence of a natural disaster in any of these regions could have a significant negative impact on us, the farmers and our supply chain. Additionally, the animals from which our products are sourced, the crops on which we rely for feed and the pastures on which these animals are raised, are vulnerable to adverse weather conditions and natural disasters, such as floods, droughts, frosts, earthquakes, hurricanes and pestilence. Disease, adverse weather conditions and natural disasters can adversely impact pasture quantity and quality, leading to reduced yields and quality, which in turn could reduce the available supply of, or increase the price of, our raw materials. If we raised prices for our products to account for this increase, we could experience decreased demand for our products and lower sales volumes, thereby adversely affecting our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We also compete with other food companies in the procurement of eggs and cream, and this competition may increase in the future if consumer demand increases for these items or products containing them or if competitors increasingly offer products in these market sectors. If supplies of eggs and cream that meet our quality standards are reduced or are in greater demand, we may not be able to obtain sufficient supply to meet our needs on favorable terms, or at all. For example, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there have been recent disruptions in the U.S. cream supply, including increased freight costs for both collection and transport of cream ingredients to processing facilities. The cooperatives that we work with are under enormous financial pressures and

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the segregation of supply is an ongoing risk. We worked with our co-manufacturers to mitigate these supply disruptions during 2021, but we expect that these supply disruptions will continue for the foreseeable future and that they may be further exacerbated by the ongoing effects of COVID-19, which could impact our freight costs and our ability to fill customer orders in the future.

Our supply may also be affected by the number and size of farms that raise chickens and cows that meet our standards, changes in U.S. and global economic conditions and our ability to forecast our raw materials requirements. For example, in order to meet our standards, we require our poultry farms to invest in infrastructure at the outset of our relationship. The typical upfront investment for each of the farms is significant and many of the farmers seek financing assistance from local and regional banks as well as federal government loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, Farm Service Agency. Changes in U.S. and global economic conditions or any U.S. government shutdown (including in connection with COVID-19) could significantly decrease loans available to farmers. Many of these farmers have alternative income opportunities and the relative financial performance of raising chickens and cows in accordance with our standards as compared to other potentially more profitable opportunities could affect their interest in working with us. Any of these factors could impact our ability to supply our products to distributors and customers and may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We may not be able to compete successfully in our highly competitive market.

We operate in a highly competitive environment across each of our product categories. We have numerous competitors of varying sizes, including producers of private-label products, as well as producers of other branded egg and butter products that compete for trade merchandising support and consumer dollars. Numerous brands and products compete for limited retailer shelf space, including in the refrigerated section, foodservice, and customers and consumers. In our market, competition is based on, among other things, product quality and taste, brand recognition and loyalty, product variety, product packaging and package design, shelf space, reputation, price, advertising, promotion and nutritional claims.

We compete with large egg companies such as Cal-Maine, Inc. and large international food companies such as Ornua Co-operative Limited (Kerrygold). We also compete directly with local and regional egg and dairy companies, as well as private-label specialty products processed by other egg and dairy companies. Each of these competitors may have substantially greater financial and other resources than us and some of whose products are well accepted in the marketplace today. They may also have lower operational costs, and as a result may be able to offer comparable or substitute products to customers at lower costs. This could put pressure on us to lower our prices, resulting in lower profitability or, in the alternative, cause us to lose market share if we fail to lower prices. Conversely, if we were to raise prices, including as a result of fluctuations in the shell egg market, increased commodity or raw material costs, increased packaging or transportation costs or otherwise, any resulting decline in consumer demand for our products may be exacerbated by the competitiveness of our market.

Generally, the food industry is dominated by multinational corporations with substantially greater resources and operations than we have. We cannot be certain that we will successfully compete with larger competitors that have greater financial, sales and technical resources. Conventional food companies may acquire our competitors or launch their own egg and butter products, and they may be able to use their resources and scale to respond to competitive pressures and changes in consumer preferences by introducing new products, reducing prices or increasing promotional activities, among other things. Retailers also market competitive products under their own private labels, which are generally sold at lower prices, and may change the merchandising of our products so they have less favorable placement. Competitive pressures or other factors could cause us to lose market share, which may require us to lower prices, increase marketing and advertising expenditures or increase the use of discounting or promotional campaigns, each of which would adversely affect our margins and could result in a decrease in our operating results and profitability.

Further, competitors with substantially greater operations and resources than we have may be less affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic than we are. In connection with the pandemic, we have restricted employee travel, cancelled certain events with consumers, customers or partners, imposed operational safeguards at Egg Central Station and limited access to our headquarters. Although we are monitoring the situation, we cannot predict for how long, or the ultimate extent to which, the pandemic may disrupt our operations as a result of these measures or if we are required to implement other changes, such as closure of our egg processing facility. Any significant disruption resulting from this or similar events on a large scale or over a prolonged period of time could cause significant delays and disruption to our business until we would be able to resume normal business operations or shift to other third-party vendors, negatively affecting our revenue and other financial results. A prolonged disruption of our business could also damage our reputation.

In addition, our ability to compete successfully in our market depends, in large part, on our ability to implement our growth strategy of expanding supply and distribution, improving placement of our products, attracting new consumers to our brand and introducing new products and product extensions. Our ability to implement this growth strategy depends, among other things, on our ability to:

 

manage relationships with various suppliers, co-manufacturers, distributors, customers and other third parties, and expend time and effort to integrate new suppliers, co-manufacturers and customers into our fulfillment operations;

 

secure placement in stores for our products;

 

increase our brand recognition;

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expand and maintain brand loyalty;

 

increase the number of consumer households purchasing our products; and

 

develop new product lines and extensions.

Our sales and operating results will be adversely affected if we do not successfully implement our growth strategy or if we invest resources in a growth strategy that ultimately proves unsuccessful.

We currently have a limited number of co-manufacturers. Loss of one or more of our co-manufacturers or our failure to timely identify and establish relationships with new co-manufacturers could harm our business and impede our growth.

A significant amount of our revenue is derived from products manufactured at facilities owned and operated by our co-manufacturers. We currently rely on two co-manufacturers for hard-boiled eggs, one co-manufacturer for butter, one co-manufacturer for ghee, one co-manufacturer for liquid eggs, one co-manufacturer for egg bites and one co-manufacturer for breakfast bars. While we currently have written manufacturing contracts with our co-manufacturers for butter, spreadable butter, egg bites, breakfast bars and one of our co-manufacturers for hard-boiled eggs, we do not currently have written manufacturing contracts with our other co-manufacturers. Due to the absence of written contracts with certain of our co-manufacturers, these co-manufacturers can generally seek to alter or terminate their relationships with us at any time, leaving us with periods during which we have limited or no ability to manufacture certain of our products.

In addition, due to the limited number of co-manufacturers, an interruption in, or the loss of operations at, one or more of our co-manufacturing facilities, which may be caused by work stoppages, regulatory issues or noncompliance, disease outbreaks or pandemics (such as COVID-19), acts of war, terrorism, fire, earthquakes, flooding or other natural disasters, could delay, postpone or reduce production of some of our products, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations until such time as the interruption is resolved or an alternate source of production is secured, especially in times of low inventory.

We believe there are a limited number of competent, high-quality co-manufacturers in our industry that meet our geographical requirements and our strict quality and control standards, and should we seek to obtain additional or alternative co-manufacturing arrangements in the future, there can be no assurance that we would be able to do so on satisfactory terms, in a timely manner, or at all. Therefore, the loss of one or more co-manufacturers, any disruption or delay at a co-manufacturer or any failure to identify and engage co-manufacturers for new products and product extensions could delay, postpone or reduce production of our products, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We could be adversely affected by a change in consumer preferences, perception and spending habits in the natural food industry generally and on animal-based products in particular, and failure to develop or enrich our product offerings or gain market acceptance of our new products could have a negative effect on our business.

We have positioned our brand to capitalize on growing consumer interest in natural, clean-label, traceable, ethically produced, great-tasting and nutritious foods. The market in which we operate is subject to changes in consumer preference, perception and spending habits. Our performance depends significantly on factors that may affect the level and pattern of consumer spending in the U.S. natural food industry market in which we operate. Such factors include consumer preference, consumer confidence, consumer income, consumer perception of the safety and quality of our products and shifts in the perceived value for our products relative to alternatives. Media coverage regarding the safety or quality of, or diet or health issues relating to, our products or the raw materials, ingredients or processes involved in their manufacturing may damage consumer confidence in our products. A general decline in the consumption of our products could occur at any time as a result of change in consumer preference, perception, confidence and spending habits, including an unwillingness to pay a premium or an inability to purchase our products due to financial hardship or increased price sensitivity, which may be exacerbated by the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and general inflationary trends. For example, we and many of our customers face pressure from animal rights groups to require all companies that supply food products to operate their business in a manner that treats animals in conformity with certain standards developed or approved by these animal rights groups. If consumer preferences shift away from animal-based products for these reasons, because of a preference for plant-based products or otherwise, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

The success of our products depends on a number of factors, including our ability to accurately anticipate changes in market demand and consumer preferences, our ability to differentiate the quality of our products from those of our competitors, and the effectiveness of our marketing and advertising campaigns for our products. We may not be successful in identifying trends in consumer preferences and developing products that respond to such trends in a timely manner. We also may not be able to effectively promote our products by our marketing and advertising campaigns and gain market acceptance. If our products fail to gain market acceptance, are restricted by regulatory requirements or have quality problems, we may not be able to fully recover costs and expenses incurred in our operation, and our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

A limited number of distributors represent a substantial portion of our sales, and the loss of one or more distributor relationships that cannot be replaced in a timely manner may adversely affect our results of operations.

Our products are distributed through a broker-distributor-retailer network whereby brokers represent our products to distributors and retailers who in turn sell our products to consumers. We serve the majority of natural channel customers through food distributors,

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such as United Natural Foods, Inc., or UNFI, KeHE Distributors, LLC, or KeHE, and US Foods, Inc., or US Foods, which purchase, store, sell and deliver our products to retailers, including Whole Foods and Sprouts.

In fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021, UNFI (which was Whole Foods’ primary distributor other than from April 2020 to August 2021) accounted for approximately 35%, 15% and 18% of our net revenue, respectively, KeHE accounted for approximately 11%, 12% and 10% of our net revenue, respectively, and US Foods (which was Whole Foods’ primary distributor from April 2020 to August 2021) accounted for approximately less than 10%, 18%, and 14% of our net revenue, respectively. Since these distributors act as intermediaries between us and retail grocers or foodservice providers, who generally select the distributors, we do not have short-term or long-term commitments or minimum purchase volumes in our contracts with distributors that ensure future sales of our products. These distributors are able to decide on the products carried, and they may limit the products available for retailers, such as Whole Foods and Sprouts, to purchase. We expect that most of our sales will be made through a core number of distributors for the foreseeable future. The loss of one or more of our significant distributor relationships that cannot be replaced in a timely manner (or at all) under similar terms and conditions could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We are dependent on hatcheries and pullet farms to supply our network of family farms with laying hens. Any disruption in that supply chain could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Under the terms of our contracts with our network of family farms, while we do not own laying hens, we are generally responsible for coordinating the acquisition and delivery of laying hens to the farmers. In order to meet these obligations, we place orders for chicks directly with hatcheries intended to supply a future year’s production of eggs at least a year in advance. Once the chicks are hatched, they are delivered to a network of pullet farms, who rear the chicks to approximately 16 to 18 weeks of age, at which time they begin laying eggs. The hens are then delivered directly from the pullet farms to our network of family farms, which then place the hens into egg production.

We currently work with a sole source supplier that contracts with a network of independent pullet farms. We do not have a long-term supply contract with this supplier, and if the supplier were to cease doing business with us for any reason, we may have a difficult time finding and contracting with alternate pullet farms in sufficient scale to meet our needs, if at all. Additionally, any disruption in these supply services for any reason, including agricultural disease such as avian influenza, natural disaster, fire, power interruption, work stoppage or other calamity, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations if we cannot replace these providers in a timely manner on acceptable terms or at all.

Consolidation of retail customers or the loss of a significant retail customer could negatively impact our sales and profitability.

Our retail customers include natural channel and mainstream channel stores, which have been undergoing a consolidation in recent years. This consolidation has produced larger, more sophisticated organizations with increased negotiating and buying power that are able to resist price increases, as well as operate with lower inventories, decrease the number of brands that they carry and increase their emphasis on private-label products, all of which could negatively impact our business. During fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021, our largest direct retail customer, Kroger, accounted for approximately 14%, 13% and 12% of our net revenue, respectively.

With certain of our retail customers, like Whole Foods and Sprouts, we sell our products through distributors. We are not able to precisely attribute our net revenue to a specific retailer for products sold through distributors. We rely on third-party data to calculate the portion of retail sales attributable to retailers, but this data is inherently imprecise because it is based on gross sales generated by our products sold at retailers, without accounting for price concessions, promotional activities or chargebacks, and because it measures retail sales for only the portion of our retailers serviced through distributors. Based on this third-party data and internal analysis, Whole Foods accounted for approximately 30%, 28% and 29% of our retail sales in fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively, and Sprouts accounted for approximately 8%, 7% and 7% of our retail sales in fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. The loss of Kroger, Whole Foods, Sprouts or any other large retail customer or the reduction of purchasing levels or the cancellation of any business from Kroger, Whole Foods, Sprouts or any other large retail customer for an extended length of time could negatively impact our sales and profitability.

A retailer may take actions that affect us for reasons that we cannot always anticipate or control, such as their financial condition, changes in their business strategy or operations, the introduction of competing products or the perceived quality of our products. Despite operating in different channel segments, our retailers sometimes compete for the same consumers. Because of actual or perceived conflicts resulting from this competition, retailers may take actions that negatively affect us. Consequently, our financial results may fluctuate significantly from period to period based on the actions of one or more significant retailers.

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We source substantially all of our shell egg cartons from a sole source supplier, and any disruptions may impact our ability to sell our eggs.

We obtain substantially all of the packaging for our shell eggs from a sole-source supplier. Any disruption in the supply of our shell egg cartons, including as a result of interruptions to global shipping, could delay our production and hinder our ability to meet our commitments to customers. If we are unable to obtain a sufficient quantity of our packaging on commercially reasonable terms or in a timely manner, or if we are unable to obtain alternative sources, sales of our products could be delayed or we may be required to redesign our products. For example, in connection with increased demand for shell eggs in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the supplier of substantially all of our shell egg cartons began to prioritize packaging for core egg products (such as 12-count packages), and we separately experienced certain quality issues with our 18-count egg cartons. As a result of these events, and in order to otherwise meet demand for our products, we began using recycled plastic packaging for certain of our shell egg products. While this change in packaging did not materially impact our operations, there is no guarantee that we will not experience similar packaging issues in the future, or that any such packaging issues will not impact our ability to meet product demand for our shell eggs. Any of these events could result in lost sales, price increases, reduced gross margins or damage to our customer relationships, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Because we rely on a limited number of third-party vendors to manufacture and store our products, we may not be able to maintain manufacturing and storage capacity at the times and with the capacities necessary to produce and store our products or meet the demand for our products.

We rely on a limited number of co-manufacturers and cold storage providers. We currently rely on two co-manufacturers for hard-boiled eggs, one co-manufacturer for butter, one co-manufacturer for ghee, one co-manufacturer for liquid eggs, one co-manufacturer for egg bites and one co-manufacturer for breakfast bars. Our financial performance depends in large part on our ability to obtain adequate co-manufacturing and cold storage facilities services in a timely manner. We are not assured of continued co-manufacturing and cold storage capacities. Certain of our co-manufacturers or our cold storage providers could discontinue or seek to alter their relationship with us. In addition, we are not assured of sufficient capacities of these providers commensurate with increased product demand.

Any disruption in the supply of our final products from these providers would have an adverse effect on our business if we cannot replace these providers in a timely manner or at all. For example, in December 2019, our co-manufacturer for hard-boiled eggs conducted a voluntary Class I recall of all hard-boiled eggs produced at its facility, including ours, due to a potential listeria contamination at the production facility. In connection with the recall, our co-manufacturer elected to permanently close the affected production facility and move all production to a different facility, which did not have sufficient capacity to meet product demand. As a result, we were unable to supply customers with hard-boiled eggs for a period of time in the first quarter of fiscal 2020. This disruption led to the loss of certain customer accounts for this product, the revenues from which were immaterial in the aggregate.

Our brand and reputation may be diminished due to real or perceived quality or food safety issues with our products, which could have an adverse effect on our business, reputation, operating results and financial condition.

We believe our consumers rely on us to provide them with high-quality products. Therefore, real or perceived quality or food safety concerns or failures to comply with applicable food regulations and requirements, whether or not ultimately based on fact and whether or not involving us (such as incidents involving our competitors), could cause negative publicity and reduced confidence in our company, brand or products, which could in turn harm our reputation and sales, and could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

Our products may be subject to contamination by foreign materials or disease-producing organisms or pathogens, such as salmonella and E. coli. These organisms and pathogens are found generally in the environment and there is a risk that one or more could be present in our products, either as a result of food processing or as an inherent risk based on the nature of our products. These organisms and pathogens also can be introduced to our products as a result of improper handling at the further-processing, foodservice or consumer level. These risks may be controlled, but may not be eliminated, by adherence to good manufacturing practices and finished product testing. Shipment of contaminated products, even if inadvertent, could result in a violation of law and lead to increased risk of exposure to product liability claims, product recalls and increased scrutiny by federal and state regulatory agencies, penalties and adverse publicity. In addition, products purchased from other producers, including co-manufacturers, could contain contaminants that we might inadvertently redistribute.

If our products become contaminated, or if there is a potential health risk associated with our products, we or our co-manufacturers might decide or need to recall a product. Any product recall could result in a loss of consumer confidence in our products and adversely affect our reputation with existing and potential customers. For example, in December 2019, our co-manufacturer for hard-boiled eggs conducted a voluntary Class I recall of all hard-boiled eggs produced at its facility, including ours, due to potential listeria contamination at the production facility. In connection with the recall, our co-manufacturer elected to permanently close the affected production facility and move all production to a different facility. As a result, we were unable to supply

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customers with hard-boiled eggs for a period of time in the first quarter of fiscal 2020, which led to the loss of certain customer accounts for this product, the revenues from which were immaterial in the aggregate.

We also have no control over our products once purchased by consumers. For example, consumers may store our products under conditions and for periods of time inconsistent with USDA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, and other governmental guidelines, which may adversely affect the quality and safety of our products.

If consumers do not perceive our products to be of high quality or safe, then the value of our brand would be diminished, and our business, results of operations and financial condition would be adversely affected. Any loss of confidence on the part of consumers in the quality and safety of our products would be difficult and costly to overcome. Any such adverse effect could be exacerbated by our market positioning as a socially conscious purveyor of high-quality products and may significantly reduce our brand value. Issues regarding the safety of any of our products, regardless of the cause, may have an adverse effect on our brand, reputation and operating results. Further, the growing use of social and digital media by us, our consumers and third parties increases the speed and extent that information or misinformation and opinions can be shared. Negative publicity about us, our brands or our products on social or digital media could seriously damage our brands and reputation. If we do not maintain the favorable perception of our brands, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

Failure to leverage our brand value propositions to compete against private-label products, especially during an economic downturn, may adversely affect our profitability.

In many product categories, we compete not only with other widely advertised branded products, but also with private-label products that generally are sold at lower prices. Consumers are more likely to purchase our products if they believe that our products provide a higher quality and greater value than less expensive alternatives. If the difference in perceived value between our brands and private-label products narrows, or if there is a perception of such a narrowing, consumers may choose not to buy our products at prices that are profitable for us. We believe that in periods of economic uncertainty, particularly in periods of uncertainty driven by high inflation, consumers may purchase more lower-priced private-label or other economy brands. To the extent this occurs, we could experience a reduction in the sales volume of our higher margin products or a shift in our product mix to lower margin offerings. In addition, our foodservice product sales will be reduced if consumers reduce the amount of food that they consume away from home at our foodservice customers, whether as a result of restaurant closures or government-ordered quarantines, travel restrictions or other directives in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic or in other times of economic uncertainty.

We must expend resources to maintain consumer awareness of our brand, build brand loyalty and generate interest in our products. Our marketing strategies and channels will evolve and our programs may or may not be successful.

In order to remain competitive and expand and keep shelf placement for our products, we may need to increase our marketing and advertising spending to maintain and increase consumer awareness, protect and grow our existing market share or promote new products, which could impact our operating results. Substantial advertising and promotional expenditures may be required to maintain or improve our brand’s market position or to introduce new products to the market, and participants in our industry are increasingly engaging with non-traditional media, including consumer outreach through social media and web-based channels, which may not prove successful.

An increase in our marketing and advertising efforts may not maintain our current reputation or lead to increased brand awareness. Further, social media platforms frequently change the algorithms that determine the ranking and display of results of a user’s search and may make other changes to the way results are displayed, or may increase the costs of such advertising, which can negatively affect the placement of our links and, therefore, reduce the number of visits to our website and social media channels or make such marketing cost prohibitive. In addition, social media platforms typically require compliance with their policies and procedures, which may be subject to change or new interpretation with limited ability to negotiate, which could negatively impact our marketing capabilities. If we are unable to maintain and promote a favorable perception of our brand and products on a cost-effective basis, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

If we fail to develop and maintain our brand, our business could suffer.

We have developed a strong and trusted brand that has contributed significantly to the success of our business, and we believe our continued success depends on our ability to maintain and grow the value of the Vital Farms brand. Maintaining, promoting and positioning our brand and reputation will depend on, among other factors, the success of our product offerings, food safety, quality assurance, marketing and merchandising efforts, our continued focus on animal welfare, the environment and sustainability and our ability to provide a consistent, high-quality consumer and customer experience. Any negative publicity, regardless of its accuracy, could have an adverse effect on our business. Brand value is based on perceptions of subjective qualities, and any incident that erodes the loyalty of our consumers, customers, suppliers or co-manufacturers, including changes to our products or packaging, adverse publicity or a governmental investigation, litigation or regulatory enforcement action, could significantly reduce the value of our brand and significantly damage our business.

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If we fail to cost-effectively acquire new consumers or retain our existing consumers, our business could be adversely affected.

Our success, and our ability to increase revenue and operate profitably, depends in part on our ability to cost-effectively acquire new consumers, retain existing consumers and keep existing consumers engaged so that they continue to purchase our products. While we intend to continue to invest significantly in sales and marketing to educate consumers about our brand, our values and our products, there is no assurance that these efforts will generate further demand for our products or expand our consumer base. Our ability to attract new consumers and retain our existing consumers will depend on the perceived value and quality of our products, consumers’ desire to purchase ethically produced products at a premium, offerings of our competitors, our ability to offer new and relevant products and the effectiveness of our marketing efforts, among other items. For example, because our shell eggs are sold to consumers at a premium price point, when prices for commodity shell eggs fall relative to the price of our shell eggs, we may be unable to entice price-sensitive consumers to try our products. We may also lose loyal consumers to our competitors if we are unable to meet consumer demand in a timely manner. If we are unable to cost-effectively acquire new consumers, retain existing consumers and keep existing consumers engaged, our business, financial condition and operating results would be adversely affected.

Our sales and profits are dependent upon our ability to expand existing customer relationships and acquire new customers.

Our business depends on our ability to increase our household penetration, to expand the number of products sold through existing retail customers, to grow within the foodservice channel and to strengthen our product offerings through innovation in both new and existing categories. Any strategies we employ to pursue this growth are subject to numerous factors outside of our control. For example, retailers continue to aggressively market their private-label products, which could reduce demand for our products. The expansion of our business also depends on our ability over the long term to obtain customers in additional distribution channels, such as convenience, drugstore, club, military and international markets. Any growth in distribution channels may also affect our existing customer relationships and present additional challenges, including related to pricing strategies. Additionally, we may need to increase or reallocate spending on marketing and promotional activities, such as rebates, temporary price reductions, off-invoice discounts, retailer advertisements, product coupons and other trade activities, and these expenditures are subject to risks, including related to consumer acceptance of our efforts. Our failure to obtain new customers, or expand our business with existing customers, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Demand for shell eggs is subject to seasonal fluctuations and can adversely impact our results of operations in certain quarters.

Demand for shell eggs fluctuates in response to seasonal factors. Shell egg demand tends to increase with the start of the school year and is highest prior to holiday periods, particularly Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, and the lowest during the summer months. As a result of these seasonal and quarterly fluctuations, comparisons of our sales and operating results between different quarters within a single fiscal year are not necessarily meaningful comparisons. If we are not correct in predicting our future shell egg demand, we may experience a supply and demand shell egg imbalance. This imbalance between supply and demand can adversely impact our results of operations at certain times of the year.

Packaging costs are volatile and may rise significantly, which may negatively impact our profitability, and any reduced availability of packaging supplies may otherwise impact our business.

We and our co-manufacturers purchase and use significant quantities of cardboard, glass, corrugated fiberboard, kraft paper, flexible plastic, flexible film and paperboard to package our products. Costs of packaging are volatile and can fluctuate due to conditions that are difficult to predict, including global competition for resources, weather conditions, consumer demand and changes in governmental trade. Volatility in the prices of supplies we and our co-manufacturers purchase could increase our cost of sales and reduce our profitability. Moreover, we may not be able to implement price increases for our products to cover any increased costs, and any price increases we do implement may result in lower consumer demand, decreased ability to attract new customers and lower sales volumes. Additionally, if the availability of certain packaging supplies is limited due to factors beyond our control (including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic), or if packaging supplies do not meet our standards, we may make changes to our product packaging, which could negatively impact the perception of our brand. For example, in connection with increased demand for shell eggs in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the supplier of substantially all of our shell egg cartons began to prioritize packaging for core egg products (such as 12-count packages), and we separately experienced certain quality issues with our 18-count egg cartons. As a result of these events, and in order to otherwise meet demand for our products, we began using recycled plastic packaging for certain of our shell egg products. If we are not successful in managing our packaging costs or the supply of packaging that meets our standards to use for our products, if we are unable to increase our prices to cover increased costs or if such price increases reduce our sales volumes, any of these factors could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

Our net revenue and earnings may fluctuate as a result of price actions, promotional activities and chargebacks.

Retailers may require price concessions that would negatively impact our margins and our profitability. Alternatively, we may increase our prices to offset commodity inflation and potentially impact our margins and volume.

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In addition, we periodically offer sales incentives through various programs to customers and consumers, including rebates, temporary price reductions, off-invoice discounts, retailer advertisements, product coupons and other trade activities.

Additionally, while we continue to work to optimize supply chain logistics, we are occasionally charged fees and/or fines by retailers for various delivery and order discrepancies. While we challenge and vet these charges, we may be subject to such charges that could be detrimental to our performance, particularly when combined with the effects of increased freight costs or the other risks outlined in this section. The cost associated with promotions and chargebacks is estimated and recorded as a reduction in net revenue. We anticipate that these price concessions, promotional activities and chargebacks could adversely impact our net revenue and that changes in such activities could adversely impact period-over-period results. If we are not correct in predicting the performance of promotions, or if we are not correct in estimating chargebacks, our business, financial condition and results of operations would be adversely affected.

If we fail to retain and motivate members of our management team or other key crew members, or fail to attract, train, develop and retain additional qualified crew members to support our operations, our business and future growth prospects would be harmed.

Our success and future growth depend largely upon the continued services of our executive officers as well as our other key crew members. These executives and key crew members have been primarily responsible for determining the strategic direction of our business and for executing our growth strategy and are integral to our brand, culture and the reputation we enjoy with suppliers, co-manufacturers, distributors, customers and consumers. From time to time, there may be changes in our executive management team or other key crew members resulting from the hiring or departure of these personnel. The loss of one or more of our executive officers, or the failure by our executive team to effectively work with our crew members and lead our company, could harm our business.

In addition, our success depends in part upon our ability to attract, train, develop and retain a sufficient number of crew members who understand and appreciate our culture and can represent our brand effectively and establish credibility with our business partners and consumers. If we are unable to win in a competitive market for top talent capable of meeting our business needs and expectations, our business and brand image may be impaired. For example, in Springfield, Missouri, where Egg Central Station is located, there is a tight labor market. As a result of this tight labor market, we may be unable to attract and retain crew members with the skills we require, particularly given the need for additional crew members due to our expansion of Egg Central Station. Any failure to meet our staffing needs or any material increase in turnover rates of our crew members may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

If we cannot maintain our company culture or focus on our purpose as we grow, our success and our business and competitive position may be harmed.

We believe our culture and our purpose have been key contributors to our success to date and that the critical nature of the platform that we provide promotes a sense of greater purpose and fulfillment in our crew members. Any failure to preserve our culture or focus on our purpose could negatively affect our ability to retain and recruit personnel, which is critical to our growth, and to effectively focus on and pursue our corporate objectives. As we grow and develop the infrastructure of a public company, we may find it difficult to maintain these important values. We may also have difficulty preserving our company culture as a large portion of our existing and newly hired workforce will be working remotely on a permanent basis. If we fail to maintain our company culture or focus on our purpose, our business and competitive position may be harmed.

Our operations are geographically consolidated. A major tornado or other natural disaster within the region in which we operate could seriously disrupt our entire business.

Egg Central Station, our shell egg processing facility, is located in Springfield, Missouri. This facility and our network of family farms supporting our poultry business are concentrated in the Midwestern portion of the Pasture Belt. The cream for our butter is sourced from two separate and distinct geographical areas, one area in the Midwest and one area in the Northeast. This supply encompasses a total of approximately 57 farms. Butter is manufactured in close proximity to the Midwest farm supply. The impact of natural disasters such as tornadoes, drought or flood within these areas is difficult to predict, particularly given the potential of climate change to increase the frequency and intensity of such natural disasters, but a natural disaster could seriously disrupt our entire business. Our insurance may not adequately cover our losses and expenses in the event of a natural disaster. As a result, natural disasters within these areas could lead to substantial losses.

Outbreaks of agricultural diseases, including avian influenza, the perception that outbreaks may occur or regulatory or market responses to outbreaks could reduce demand for our products and harm our business.

Our business activities are subject to a variety of agricultural risks, including pests and diseases such as avian influenza, which can materially and adversely affect the quality and quantity of products, including shell eggs, that we distribute.  While we are

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confident in the controls and procedures we maintain to reduce the risk to our farms and production facilities of disease, if a substantial portion of our farms or production facilities were affected by an outbreak of disease such as avian influenza, this could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.  Even if our farms and production facilities were not directly impacted by avian disease, we may nevertheless be negatively affected by resulting governmental restrictions on the sale and distribution of our products, as well as negative publicity and impacted consumer perceptions for our industry.  

Our inability to maintain our GFSI and SQF Select Site certifications may negatively affect our reputation.

The Safe Quality Food Institute administers the SQF Program, which is a third-party auditing program that examines and certifies food producers with respect to certain aspects of the producer’s business, including food safety, quality control and social, environmental and occupational health and safety management systems. The SQF Select Site certification is one of a number of available SQF certifications and involves both auditing for food safety issues and unannounced inspections by SQF personnel on an annual basis.

The Global Food Safety Initiative, or GFSI, is a private organization established and managed by an international trade association, The Consumer Goods Forum. GFSI operates a benchmarking scheme whereby certification bodies, such as the SQF Program, are “recognized” as meeting certain criteria maintained by GFSI. GFSI itself does not certify or accredit entities in the food industry.

SQF Select Site certification and the GFSI recognition of the SQF Program do not themselves have any independent legal significance and do not necessarily signal regulatory compliance. As a practice matter, however, certain retailers, including some of our largest customers, require SQF certification or certification by another GFSI-recognized program as a condition for doing business. Loss of SQF Select Site certification could impair our ability to do business with these customers, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

Risks Related to Socioeconomic, Political and Environmental Factors

The COVID-19 pandemic could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have implemented significant measures, including closures, quarantines, travel restrictions and other social distancing directives, intended to control the spread of the virus. Companies have also taken precautions, such as requiring employees to work remotely, imposing travel restrictions and temporarily closing businesses. Certain of these restrictions were reinstated at various points during 2021 as a response to the emergence of new variants or increased rates of infection. To the extent that any such restrictions remain in place, additional prevention and mitigation measures are implemented in the future, or there is uncertainty about the effectiveness of these or any other measures to contain or treat COVID-19, there is likely to be an adverse impact on global economic conditions and consumer confidence and spending, which could materially and adversely affect our supply chain as well as the demand for our products. While at this time we are working to manage and mitigate potential disruptions to our supply chain, and we have not experienced decreases in demand or material financial impacts as compared to prior periods, the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainties regarding the related economic impact may result in sustained market turmoil, which could also negatively impact our business, financial condition and cash flows.

The impact of COVID-19 on any of our suppliers, co-manufacturers, distributors or transportation or logistics providers may negatively affect the price and availability of our raw materials and impact our supply chain. If the disruptions caused by COVID-19, including interruptions to global shipping that may impact our and our suppliers’ ability to access equipment and other materials, continue for an extended period of time, our ability to meet the demands of our customers or to expand as planned may be materially impacted. The COVID-19 vaccination rate in the State of Missouri currently is currently lower than the national rate, and the reported rates of infection and hospitalization due to COVID-19 in Greene County, Missouri, where our Egg Central Station shell egg processing facility is located, have risen at certain points in early 2022. If we are forced to scale back hours of operation or close this facility in response to the pandemic, or if the effects of COVID-19 or related mitigation measures make it difficult to adequately staff the facility to meet the demands of its expansion, our business, financial condition and results of operations would be materially and adversely affected.

Further, COVID-19 may impact customer and consumer demand. Retail and grocery stores may be impacted if governments implement or reimpose regional business closures, quarantines, travel restrictions and other social distancing directives to slow the spread of the virus. Further, to the extent our customers’ operations are negatively impacted, our customers may reduce demand for or spending on our products, or customers or distributors may delay payments to us or request payment or other concessions. There may also be significant reductions or volatility in consumer demand for our products due to travel restrictions or social distancing directives, as well as the temporary inability of consumers to purchase our products due to illness, quarantine or financial hardship, shifts in demand away from one or more of our products, decreased consumer confidence and spending or pantry-loading activity, any

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of which may negatively impact our results, including as a result of an increased difficulty in planning for operations. Additionally, we may be unable to effectively modify our trade promotion and advertising activities to reflect changing consumer viewing and shopping habits due to event cancellations, reduced in-store visits and travel restrictions. Further, additional governmental restrictions on the movement of people, public gatherings and businesses may result in fewer people eating out and greater numbers of restaurant closures, both of which would negatively affect our foodservice business.

In addition, any health and safety concerns and/or demands on agency resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic that prevent the FDA or USDA from conducting their regular regulatory activities could significantly impact the ability of these agencies to regulate our products, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

The extent of COVID-19’s effect on our operational and financial performance will depend on future developments, including the duration, spread and intensity of the pandemic, the emergence of new variants and the adoption and effectiveness of vaccination programs and other actions intended to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, all of which are uncertain and difficult to predict considering the rapidly evolving landscape. As a result, it is not currently possible to ascertain the overall impact of COVID-19 on our business. However, if the pandemic continues to persist as a severe worldwide health crisis, the disease could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition results of operations and cash flows, and may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks described in this “Risk Factors” section.

A U.S. federal government shutdown could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations and financial condition.

The partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government that began in late 2018 and continued into 2019 adversely impacted many of our family farmers’ ability to access capital, as these farmers receive funding through farm loan programs of the USDA Farm Service Agency. The partial shutdown also impacted our ability to receive governmental approvals for products and labeling of new products. Another U.S. federal government shutdown of similar or greater duration could similarly impact our business, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

Disruptions in the worldwide economy may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Adverse and uncertain economic conditions, including uncertainty related to inflation, market volatility or the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, may impact distributor, retailer, foodservice and consumer demand for our products. In addition, our ability to manage normal commercial relationships with our suppliers, co-manufacturers, distributors, retailers, foodservice consumers and creditors may suffer. Consumers may shift purchases to lower-priced or other perceived value offerings during economic downturns. In particular, consumers may reduce the amount of our egg products that they purchase where there are more affordable products, including caged, cage-free and free-range egg and egg product offerings, which generally have lower retail prices than our eggs. In addition, consumers may choose to purchase private-label products rather than branded products because they are generally less expensive. Further, our foodservice product sales will be reduced if consumers reduce the amount of food they consume away from home at our foodservice customers, whether as a result of restaurant closures or government-ordered quarantines, travel restrictions and other social distancing directives in connection with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, or in other times of economic uncertainty. Distributors and customers may become more conservative in response to these conditions and seek to reduce their inventories. Our results of operations depend upon, among other things, our ability to maintain and increase sales volume with our existing distributors, retailer and foodservice customers, our ability to attract new consumers, the financial condition of our consumers and our ability to provide products that appeal to consumers at the right price. Prolonged unfavorable economic conditions may have an adverse effect on our sales and profitability.

Disruptions in international trade, including disruptions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, may have a material adverse impact on us, our suppliers and our network of farms, including our ability to expand our operations as planned.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted international trade, resulting in increased shipping costs and delays in the import and export of goods to and from the United States and other countries. Specifically, the increased demand for international shipping has resulted in shortages of shipping containers and delays at international ports. We, our suppliers and our network of family farms are dependent on the import of equipment and other supplies from Europe and other locations.  To the extent that disruptions to global shipping negatively impact our, our suppliers’ and our network of farms’ ability to access necessary goods, we may not be able to expand our operations as planned, and our business, financial condition and results of operations would be materially and adversely affected.

We are subject to risks related to heightened stakeholder focus on sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

Our business faces increasing scrutiny related to environmental, social and governance issues, including sustainable development, product packaging, renewable resources, environmental stewardship, supply chain management, climate change,

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diversity and inclusion, workplace conduct, human rights, philanthropy and support for local communities. If we fail to meet applicable standards or expectations with respect to these issues, including the expectations we establish for our own business, our reputation and brand image could be damaged, and our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely impacted.

Implementation of our environmental and sustainability initiatives, including in connection with our annual sustainability report, may require certain financial expenditures and employee resources, and if we are unable to meet our environmental, social and governance goals, this could have a material adverse effect on our reputation and brand and negatively impact our relationship with our investors, crew members, customers and consumers.

Climate change, or legal, regulatory or market efforts to address climate change, may negatively affect our business and operations.

There is growing concern that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emissions may have an adverse impact on global temperatures, weather conditions, and the frequency and severity of natural disasters. If climate change has a negative effect on agricultural productivity, we may be subject to decreased availability or less favorable pricing for certain raw materials that are necessary for our products, including corn, soybean meal and other feed ingredients. We may further be subject to unpredictable water availability due to the impact of climate change, and the lack of available water may adversely affect our business and operations.

Additionally, extreme weather and natural disasters exacerbated by climate change may impact our business. The family farms in our network are all geographically located in a region that provides an environment conducive to year-round raising of chickens. However, if climate change has a negative effect on the year-round habitability of this region for chickens, we may be subject to decreased availability or less favorable pricing for our eggs. We may also incur increased transportation, storage and processing costs if we are unable to source products within a certain distance from Egg Central Station and co-manufacturing facilities due to the effects of climate change.

Governmental and market concern about climate change and its effects may result in additional legal or regulatory requirements to reduce or mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases or water usage. Such laws or regulations, to the extent applicable to us or our suppliers, co-manufacturers or service providers, may result in significant increases to our costs of operation, particularly the supply chain and distribution costs associated with our products.

Risks Related to Legal and Government Regulation

Food safety and food-borne illness incidents or advertising or product mislabeling may materially and adversely affect our business by exposing us to lawsuits, product recalls or regulatory enforcement actions, increasing our operating costs and reducing demand for our product offerings.

Selling food for human consumption involves inherent legal and other risks, and there is increasing governmental scrutiny of and public awareness regarding food safety. Illness, injury or death related to allergens, food-borne illnesses, foreign material contamination or other food safety incidents caused by our products, or involving our suppliers, could result in the disruption or discontinuance of sales of these products or our relationships with such suppliers, or otherwise result in increased operating costs, regulatory enforcement actions or harm to our reputation. For example, in December 2019, our co-manufacturer for hard-boiled eggs conducted a voluntary Class I recall of all hard-boiled eggs produced at its facility, including ours, due to a potential listeria contamination at the production facility. Our co-manufacturer elected to permanently close the affected production facility and move all production to a different facility, which did not have sufficient capacity to meet product demand. As a result, we were unable to supply customers with hard-boiled eggs for a period of time in the first quarter of fiscal 2020.

Shipment of adulterated or misbranded products, even if inadvertent, can result in criminal or civil liability. Such incidents could also expose us to product liability, negligence or other lawsuits, including consumer class action lawsuits. Any claims brought against us may exceed or be outside the scope of our existing or future insurance policy coverage or limits. Any judgment against us that is more than our policy limits or not covered by our policies or not subject to insurance would have to be paid from our cash reserves, which would reduce our capital resources.

The occurrence of food-borne illnesses or other food safety incidents could also adversely affect the price and availability of affected raw materials, resulting in higher costs, disruptions in supply and a reduction in our sales. Furthermore, any instances of food contamination or regulatory noncompliance, whether or not caused by our actions, could compel us, our suppliers, our distributors or our customers, depending on the circumstances, to conduct a recall in accordance with FDA or USDA regulations and policies, and comparable state laws. Food recalls could result in significant losses due to their costs, the destruction of product inventory, lost sales due to the unavailability of the product for a period of time and potential loss of existing distributors or customers and a potential negative impact on our ability to attract new customers due to negative consumer experiences or because of an adverse impact on our brand and reputation. The costs of a recall could be outside the scope of our existing or future insurance policy coverage or limits.

In addition, food companies have been subject to targeted, large-scale tampering as well as to opportunistic, individual product tampering, and we, like any food company, could be a target for product tampering. Forms of tampering could include the introduction

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of foreign material, chemical contaminants and pathological organisms into food products, as well as product substitution. Governmental regulations require companies like us to analyze, prepare and implement mitigation strategies specifically to address tampering designed to inflict widespread public health harm. If we do not adequately address the possibility, or any actual instance, of product tampering, we could face possible seizure or recall of our products and the imposition of civil or criminal sanctions, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

 

Our operations are subject to FDA and USDA federal regulation and state regulation, and there is no assurance that we will be in compliance with all regulations.

Our operations are subject to extensive regulation by the FDA, the USDA and other federal, state and local authorities. With respect to eggs in particular, the FDA and the USDA split jurisdiction depending on the type of product involved. While the FDA has primary responsibility for the regulation of shell eggs, the USDA has primary responsibility for the regulation of dried, frozen or liquid eggs and other “egg products,” subject to certain exceptions. Specifically, our shell eggs, butter, hard-boiled eggs, ghee, egg bite and breakfast bar products are subject to the requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as amended, or the FDCA, and regulations promulgated thereunder by the FDA. This comprehensive regulatory program governs, among other things, the manufacturing, composition and ingredients, packaging, labeling and safety of most food products. The FDA requires that facilities that manufacture food products comply with a range of requirements, including hazard analysis and preventative controls regulations, current good manufacturing practices, or cGMPs, and supplier verification requirements. Our shell egg operations are further subject to FDA regulatory requirements governing the production, storage and transportation of shell eggs for the control of salmonella. FDA-inspected processing facilities are subject to periodic and “for cause” inspection by federal, state and local authorities. In addition, certain of our products, such as our liquid whole egg and certain of our egg bite and breakfast bar products, are subject to regulation by the USDA, including facility registration, inspection, manufacturing and labeling requirements. We do not control the manufacturing processes of, and rely upon, our co-manufacturers for compliance with cGMPs and other regulatory requirements for the manufacturing of our products that is conducted by our co-manufacturers. If we or our co-manufacturers cannot successfully manufacture products that conform to our specifications and the strict regulatory requirements of the FDA, the USDA or others, we or they may be subject to adverse inspectional findings or enforcement actions, which could materially impact our ability to market our products, result in our co-manufacturers’ inability to continue manufacturing for us, result in a recall of our products that have already been distributed and result in damage to our brand and reputation. For example, in December 2019, our co-manufacturer for hard-boiled eggs conducted a voluntary Class I recall of all hard-boiled eggs produced at its facility, including ours, due to a potential listeria contamination at the production facility. We rely upon our co-manufacturers to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel. If the FDA, the USDA or another regulatory authority determines that we or these co-manufacturers have not complied with the applicable regulatory requirements, our business may be adversely impacted.

Our liquid whole eggs are subject to the requirements of the Egg Products Inspection Act, or EPIA, and regulations promulgated thereunder by the USDA. The USDA has comprehensive regulations in place that apply to establishments that break, dry and process shell eggs into liquid egg products. This regulatory scheme governs the manufacturing, processing, pasteurizations, packaging, labeling and safety of egg products. Under the EPIA and USDA regulations, establishments that manufacture egg products must comply with the USDA’s requirements for sanitation, temperature control, pasteurization and labeling. In addition, in September 2020, the USDA announced that it had finalized its Egg Products Inspection Rule. Pursuant to the regulatory requirements established by this rule, we anticipate that our co-manufacturers’ liquid whole egg establishment will be required to implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plans within two years after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register and will further be required to implement Sanitary Standard Operating Procedures within one year after publication in the Federal Register. Certain of our egg bite products that contain bacon and ham are also subject to USDA regulation, pursuant to the Federal Meat Inspection Act, or FMIA. The FMIA and USDA regulations establish registration, inspection, recordkeeping, labeling and other requirements governing certain products that contain meat, including our products. We do not control the manufacturing processes of, and rely upon, our co-manufacturers for compliance with USDA regulations for the manufacturing of our liquid whole egg, egg bite and breakfast bar products, which is conducted by our co-manufacturers. If we or our co-manufacturers cannot successfully manufacture liquid whole eggs, egg bites or breakfast bars that conform to our specifications and the strict regulatory requirements of the USDA or others, we or they may be subject to adverse inspectional findings or enforcement actions, which could materially impact our ability to market our products, could result in our co-manufacturers’ inability to continue manufacturing for us, or could result in a recall of our product that has already been distributed. In addition, we rely upon our co-manufacturers to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel. If the USDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority determines that we or these co-manufacturers have not complied with the applicable regulatory requirements, our business may be materially impacted.

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In addition to regulation pursuant to the FDCA, EPIA and FMIA, some of our products are subject to the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, or the AMA. The AMA governs voluntary grade claims that appear on some of our products and are administered by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, or AMS. For instance, our shell eggs, including those handled by our co-manufacturers, are graded for quality by USDA AMS grading personnel. Similarly, our butter product, including those handled by our co-manufacturers, are graded for flavor, body, color and salt content. We do not control the processes in place on our contract farms or with our co-manufacturers (which can affect the assigned grade), and rely upon both to provide us quality, fresh products that meet our stringent quality standards. If we, or our network of family farms and co-manufacturers, cannot successfully manufacture products that confirm with our quality specifications or meet appropriate grading standards under the AMA, we may have difficulty marketing our products or may be required to source our products from other farms and co-manufacturers.

Our products that are labeled as “organic” are subject to the requirements of the Organic Foods Production Act, or OFPA, and the USDA’s National Organic Program, or NOP, regulations. The OFPA is a comprehensive regulatory scheme that mandates certain practices and prohibits other practices pertaining to the raising of animals and handling and processing of food products. We, and our network of family farms and co-manufacturers, contract with NOP-accredited certifying agents to ensure that our organic products are produced in compliance with the OFPA and NOP regulations. We do not control the farms where our products are raised and rely on the farms for compliance with the on-farm requirements of the OFPA and NOP regulations. Similarly, we do not control the manufacturing processes of, and we rely upon, our co-manufacturers for compliance with requirements of the OFPA and NOP regulations with respect to organic products handled and manufactured by our co-manufacturers. If we, the farms or the co-manufacturers cannot successfully raise and manufacture products that meet the strict regulatory requirements of the OFPA and the NOP, we or they may be subject to adverse inspectional findings or enforcement actions, which could materially impact our ability to market our products as “organic,” could result in the farms or co-manufacturers’ inability to continue to raise farm products or manufacture food for us, or we, the farms, or the co-manufacturer could lose the right to market products as “organic,” and subject us, the farms, or co-manufacturers to civil monetary penalties. If the USDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority determines that we or these co-manufacturers have not complied with the applicable regulatory requirements, our business may be materially impacted.

We are also subject to state and local regulations, including product requirements, labeling requirements and import restrictions. For example, the State of Iowa requires that grocery stores which participate in the Special Supplement Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and which sell eggs produced by chickens advertised as being housed in cage-free, free-range or enriched colony cage environments, also sell “conventional” eggs produced by chickens that are not so advertised. That regulation impacted the space allocation for non-caged eggs on the shelves of retailers in Iowa and their willingness to carry our eggs. In addition, one or more states could pass regulations that establish requirements that our products would not satisfy. If our products fail to meet such individual state standards or are restricted from being imported into a state-by-state regulatory requirements, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

We seek to comply with applicable regulations through a combination of employing internal experience and expert personnel to ensure quality-assurance compliance (i.e., assuring that our products are not adulterated or misbranded) and contracting with third-party laboratories that conduct analyses of products to ensure compliance with nutrition labeling requirements and to identify any potential contaminants before distribution. Failure by us, the farms or the co-manufacturers to comply with applicable laws and regulations or maintain permits, licenses or registrations relating to our or our co-manufacturers’ operations could subject us to civil remedies or penalties, including fines, injunctions, recalls or seizures, warning letters, restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of products, or refusals to permit the import or export of products, as well as potential criminal sanctions, which could result in increased operating costs resulting in a material effect on our operating results and business. See the section titled “—Government Regulation” in Part I, Item 1, “Business,” of this Annual Report for further information on the regulations to which we are subject.

Changes in existing laws or regulations, or the adoption of new laws or regulations may increase our costs and otherwise adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

The manufacture and marketing of food products is highly regulated. We, our suppliers and our co-manufacturers are subject to a variety of laws and regulations. These laws and regulations apply to many aspects of our business, including the manufacture, packaging, labeling, distribution, advertising, sale, quality and safety of our products, as well as the health and safety of our crew members and the protection of the environment.

In the United States, we are subject to regulation by various government agencies, including the FDA, the USDA, the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, and the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, as well as various state and local agencies. We are also regulated outside the United States by various international regulatory bodies. In addition, we are subject to certain standards, such as GFSI standards and review by voluntary organizations, such as the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ National Advertising Division. We could incur costs, including fines, penalties and third-party claims, because of any violations of, or liabilities under, such requirements, including any competitor or consumer challenges relating to compliance with such requirements. For example, in connection with the marketing and advertisement of our products, we could be the target of claims relating to false or deceptive advertising, including under the auspices of the FTC and the consumer protection statutes of some states.

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The regulatory environment in which we operate could change significantly and adversely in the future. Any change in manufacturing, labeling or packaging requirements for our products may lead to an increase in costs or interruptions in production, either of which could adversely affect our operations and financial condition. New or revised government laws and regulations could result in additional compliance costs and, in the event of non-compliance, civil remedies, including fines, injunctions, withdrawals, recalls or seizures and confiscations, as well as potential criminal sanctions, any of which may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Failure by our network of family farms, suppliers of raw materials or co-manufacturers to comply with food safety, environmental or other laws and regulations, or with the specifications and requirements of our products, may disrupt our supply of products and adversely affect our business.

If any of our family farms, suppliers or co-manufacturers fail to comply with food safety, environmental, health and safety or other laws and regulations, or face allegations of non-compliance, their operations may be disrupted and our reputation could be harmed. Additionally, the farms and co-manufacturers are required to maintain the quality of our products and to comply with our standards and specifications. In the event of actual or alleged non-compliance, we might be forced to find alternative farms, suppliers or co-manufacturers and we may be subject to lawsuits and/or regulatory enforcement actions related to such non-compliance by the farms, suppliers and co-manufacturers. As a result, our supply of eggs and other raw materials or finished inventory could be disrupted or our costs could increase, which would adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. The failure of any partner farmer or co-manufacturer to produce products that conform to our standards could adversely affect our reputation in the marketplace and result in product recalls, product liability claims, government or third-party actions and economic loss. For example, in December 2019, our co-manufacturer for hard-boiled eggs conducted a voluntary Class I recall of all hard-boiled eggs produced at its facility, including ours, due to a potential listeria contamination at the production facility. Additionally, actions we may take to mitigate the impact of any disruption or potential disruption in our supply of eggs and other raw materials or finished inventory, including increasing inventory in anticipation of a potential supply or production interruption, may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We are subject to stringent environmental regulation and potentially subject to environmental litigation, proceedings, and investigations.

Our business operations and ownership and past and present operation of real property are subject to stringent federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations pertaining to the discharge of materials into the environment and natural resources. Violation of these laws and regulations could lead to substantial liabilities, fines and penalties or to capital expenditures related to pollution control equipment that could have a material adverse effect on our business. We could also experience in the future significant opposition from third parties with respect to our business, including environmental non-governmental organizations, neighborhood groups and municipalities. Additionally, new matters or sites may be identified in the future that will require additional environmental investigation, assessment, or expenditures, which could cause additional capital expenditures. Future discovery of contamination of property underlying or in the vicinity of our present properties or facilities and/or waste disposal sites could require us to incur additional expenses, delays to our business and to our proposed construction. The occurrence of any of these events, the implementation of new laws and regulations, or stricter interpretation of existing laws or regulations, could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Legal claims, government investigations or other regulatory enforcement actions could subject us to civil and criminal penalties.

We operate in a highly regulated environment with constantly evolving legal and regulatory frameworks. Consequently, we are subject to a heightened risk of legal claims, government investigations or other regulatory enforcement actions. Although we have implemented policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance with existing laws and regulations, there can be no assurance that our crew members, consultants, independent contractors, suppliers, co-manufacturers or distributors will not violate our policies and procedures. Moreover, a failure to maintain effective control processes could lead to violations, unintentional or otherwise, of laws and regulations. Legal claims, government investigations or regulatory enforcement actions arising out of our failure or alleged failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations could subject us to civil and criminal penalties that could materially and adversely affect our product sales, reputation, financial condition and operating results. In addition, the costs and other effects of defending potential and pending litigation and administrative actions against us may be difficult to determine and could adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.

Litigation or legal proceedings could expose us to significant liabilities and have a negative impact on our reputation or business.

From time to time, we may be party to various claims and litigation proceedings. We evaluate these claims and litigation proceedings to assess the likelihood of unfavorable outcomes and to estimate, if possible, the amount of potential losses. Based on these assessments and estimates, we may establish reserves, as appropriate. These assessments and estimates are based on the information available to management at the time and involve a significant amount of management judgment. Actual outcomes or losses may differ materially from our assessments and estimates. We are not currently party to any material litigation.

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Even when not merited, the defense of these lawsuits may divert our management’s attention, and we may incur significant expenses in defending these lawsuits. The results of litigation and other legal proceedings are inherently uncertain, and adverse judgments or settlements in some of these legal disputes may result in adverse monetary damages, penalties or injunctive relief against us, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, cash flows or results of operations. Any claims or litigation, even if fully indemnified or insured, could damage our reputation and make it more difficult to compete effectively or to obtain adequate insurance in the future.

Furthermore, while we maintain insurance for certain potential liabilities, such insurance does not cover all types and amounts of potential liabilities and is subject to various exclusions and caps on amounts recoverable. Even if we believe a claim is covered by insurance, insurers may dispute our entitlement to recovery for a variety of potential reasons, which may affect the timing and, if the insurers prevail, the amount of our recovery.

Risks Related to Our Status as a Certified B Corporation and Public Benefit Corporation

Our status as a public benefit corporation and a Certified B Corporation may not result in the benefits that we anticipate.

We have elected to be classified as a public benefit corporation under Delaware law. As a public benefit corporation we are required to balance the financial interests of our stockholders with the best interests of those stakeholders materially affected by our conduct, including particularly those affected by the specific benefit purposes set forth in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation. In addition, there is no assurance that the expected positive impact from being a public benefit corporation will be realized. Accordingly, being a public benefit corporation and complying with our related obligations could negatively impact our ability to provide the highest possible return to our stockholders.

As a public benefit corporation, we are required to disclose to stockholders a report at least biennially on our overall public benefit performance and on our assessment of our success in achieving our specific public benefit purpose, which we may disclose through our annual report and proxy statement for our annual meeting of stockholders made available to our stockholders each year. If we are not timely or are unable to provide this report, or if the report is not viewed favorably by parties doing business with us or regulators or others reviewing our credentials, our reputation and status as a public benefit corporation may be harmed.

While not required by Delaware law or the terms of our certificate of incorporation, we have elected to have our social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency assessed against the proprietary criteria established by B Lab, an independent non-profit organization. As a result of this assessment, we have been designated as a “Certified B Corporation,” which refers to companies that are certified as meeting certain levels of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. The standards for Certified B Corporation certification are B Lab and may change over time, and our continued certification is at the sole discretion of B Lab. To maintain our certification, we are required to update our assessment and verify our updated score with B Lab every three years. We were most recently recertified as a Certified B Corporation in January 2022. Our reputation could be harmed if we lose our status as a Certified B Corporation, whether by our choice or by our failure to continue to meet the certification requirements, if that failure or change were to create a perception that we are more focused on financial performance and are no longer as committed to the values shared by Certified B Corporations. Likewise, our reputation could be harmed if our publicly reported Certified B Corporation score declines.

As a public benefit corporation, our duty to balance a variety of interests may result in actions that do not maximize stockholder value.

As a public benefit corporation, our board of directors has a duty to balance (i) the pecuniary interest of our stockholders, (ii) the best interests of those materially affected by our conduct and (iii) specific public benefits identified in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation. While we believe our public benefit designation and obligation will benefit our stockholders, in balancing these interests our board of directors may take actions that do not maximize stockholder value. Any benefits to stockholders resulting from our public benefit purposes may not materialize within the timeframe we expect or at all and may have negative effects. For example:

 

we may choose to revise our policies in ways that we believe will be beneficial to stakeholders other than our stockholders, including farmers, suppliers, crew members and local communities, even though the changes may be costly;

 

we may take actions, such as building state-of-the-art facilities with technology and quality control mechanisms that exceed the requirements of USDA and the FDA, even though these actions may be more costly than other alternatives;

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we may be influenced to pursue programs and services to demonstrate our commitment to the communities to which we serve and bringing ethical food to the table, even though there is no immediate return to our stockholders; or

 

in responding to a possible proposal to acquire the company, our board of directors may be influenced by the interests of stakeholders other than our stockholders, including farmers, suppliers, crew members and local communities, whose interests may be different from the interests of our stockholders.

We may be unable or slow to realize the benefits we expect from actions taken to benefit our stakeholders, including farmers, suppliers, crew members and local communities, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations, which in turn could cause our stock price to decline.

As a public benefit corporation, we may be subject to increased derivative litigation concerning our duty to balance stockholder and public benefit interests, the occurrence of which may have an adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.

As a Delaware public benefit corporation, our stockholders (if they, individually or collectively, own at least 2% of our outstanding capital stock or shares having at least $2 million in market value (whichever is less)) are entitled to file a derivative lawsuit claiming that our directors failed to balance stockholder and public benefit interests. This potential liability does not exist for traditional corporations. Therefore, we may be subject to the possibility of increased derivative litigation, which would require the attention of management and, as a result, may adversely impact management’s ability to effectively execute our strategy. Any such derivative litigation may be costly and have an adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to Being a Public Company

If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting in the future, we may not be able to accurately report our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows, which may adversely affect investor confidence in us and, as a result, the value of our common stock.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other things, that we maintain effective internal controls for financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. We are required, under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Section 404, to furnish a report by management on, among other things, the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. This assessment must include disclosure of any material weaknesses identified by our management in our internal control over financial reporting. A material weakness is a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting that results in more than a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. Section 404 also generally requires an attestation from our independent registered public accounting firm on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. However, for as long as we remain an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or JOBS Act, we intend to take advantage of the exemption permitting us not to comply with the independent registered public accounting firm attestation requirement.

Our compliance with Section 404 will require that we continue to incur substantial expense and expend significant management efforts. We may not be able to complete our evaluation, testing and any required remediation in a timely fashion. During the evaluation and testing process, if we identify one or more material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting, we will be unable to assert that our internal control over financial reporting is effective. We cannot assure you that there will not be material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting in the future. Any failure to maintain internal control over financial reporting could severely inhibit our ability to accurately report our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. If we are unable to conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, or if our independent registered public accounting firm determines we have a material weakness or significant deficiency in our internal control over financial reporting once that firm conducts its Section 404 reviews, we could lose investor confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports, the market price of our common stock could decline, and we could be subject to sanctions or investigations by The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC, or Nasdaq, the SEC or other regulatory authorities. Failure to remedy any material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, or to implement or maintain other effective control systems required of public companies, could also restrict our future access to the capital markets.

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We are an “emerging growth company,” and we cannot be certain if the reduced reporting and disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies will make our common stock less attractive to investors.

We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the JOBS Act, and we may take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements, and exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. Pursuant to Section 107 of the JOBS Act, as an emerging growth company, we have elected to use the extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. As a result, our consolidated financial statements may not be comparable to the financial statements of issuers who are required to comply with the effective dates for new or revised accounting standards that are applicable to public companies, which may make our common stock less attractive to investors. In addition, if we cease to be an emerging growth company, we will no longer be able to use the extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards.

We will remain an emerging growth company until the earliest of: (1) December 28, 2025; (2) the last day of the first fiscal year in which our annual gross revenue is $1.07 billion or more; (3) the date on which we have, during the previous rolling three-year period, issued more than $1 billion in non-convertible debt securities; and (4) the last day of the fiscal year in which the market value of our common stock held by non-affiliates exceeded $700 million as of the last business day of the second fiscal quarter of such fiscal year.

We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive if we choose to rely on these exemptions. For example, if we do not adopt a new or revised accounting standard, our future results of operations may not be as comparable to the results of operations of certain other companies in our industry that adopted such standards. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock, and our stock price may be more volatile.

We have incurred and will continue to incur increased costs as a result of operating as a public company, and our management will be required to devote substantial time to compliance with our public company responsibilities and corporate governance practices.

As a public company, we have incurred and will continue to incur significant finance, legal, accounting, and other expenses, including director and officer liability insurance. We expect that these expenses will increase further after we are no longer an “emerging growth company.” The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the listing requirements of Nasdaq and other applicable securities rules and regulations impose various requirements on public companies. Our management and other personnel devote a substantial amount of time to compliance with these requirements. Moreover, these rules and regulations will increase our legal and financial compliance costs and will make some activities more time-consuming and costly. We cannot predict or estimate the amount of additional costs we will incur as a public company or the specific timing of such costs.

Risks Related to Information Technology and Intellectual Property

We rely on information technology systems and any inadequacy, failure, interruption or security breaches of those systems may harm our ability to effectively operate our business.

We are dependent on various information technology systems, including, but not limited to, networks, applications and outsourced services in connection with the operation of our business. A failure of our information technology systems to perform as we anticipate could disrupt our business and result in transaction errors, processing inefficiencies and loss of sales, causing our business to suffer. In addition, our information technology systems may be vulnerable to damage or interruption from circumstances beyond our control, including fire, natural disasters, systems failures, viruses and security breaches. Any such damage or interruption could have an adverse effect on our business.

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A cybersecurity incident or other technology disruptions could negatively impact our business and our relationships with customers and consumers.

We use computers in substantially all aspects of our business operations. We also use mobile devices, social networking and other online activities to connect with our crew members, suppliers, co-manufacturers, distributors, customers and consumers. Such uses give rise to cybersecurity risks, including security breaches, espionage, system disruption, theft and inadvertent release of information. Cybersecurity incidents are increasing in their frequency, sophistication and intensity, with third-party phishing and social engineering attacks in particular increasing in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. Our business involves sensitive information and intellectual property, including customers’, distributors’ and suppliers’ information, private information about crew members and financial and strategic information about us and our business partners. Further, as we pursue new initiatives that improve our operations and cost structure, we also intend to expand and improve our information technologies, resulting in a larger technological presence and corresponding exposure to cybersecurity risk. If we fail to assess and identify cybersecurity risks associated with new initiatives, we may become increasingly vulnerable to such risks.

In 2021, we launched an online ordering platform, and in connection with this platform, our third-party service providers may collect, store, process, and use personal and payment information and other customer and consumer data. Any breach of our data security or that of our service providers could result in an unauthorized release or transfer of information or the loss of valuable business data or cause a disruption in our business. Any such breach could result in harm to our brand and exposure to losses, litigation or regulatory proceedings.

While we have implemented measures to prevent security breaches and cyber incidents, our preventative measures and incident response efforts may not be entirely effective. The theft, destruction, loss, misappropriation or release of sensitive information or intellectual property, or interference with our information technology systems or the technology systems of third parties on which we rely, could result in business disruption, negative publicity, brand damage, violation of privacy laws, loss of customers and distributors, potential liability and competitive disadvantage all of which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Such risks may be heightened by the fact that a large portion of our existing and newly hired crew members are working remotely on a permanent basis. Technologies and security systems in place at our crew members’ homes may be less secure than those used in a physical office, and while we have implemented controls and safeguards to help protect our systems as our crew members work from home, we may nevertheless be subject to increased cybersecurity risk, which could expose us to risks of data or financial loss, resulting in an adverse impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The loss of any registered trademark or other intellectual property could enable other companies to compete more effectively with us.

We utilize intellectual property in our business. Our trademarks are valuable assets that reinforce our brand and consumers’ favorable perception of our products. We have invested a significant amount of money in establishing and promoting our trademarked brands. We also rely on unpatented proprietary expertise and copyright protection to develop and maintain our competitive position. Our continued success depends, to a significant degree, upon our ability to protect and preserve our intellectual property, including our trademarks and copyrights.

We rely on confidentiality agreements and trademark and copyright law to protect our intellectual property rights. Our confidentiality agreements with our crew members and certain of our consultants, contract employees, suppliers and independent contractors, including some of our co-manufacturers who use our formulations to manufacture our products, generally require that all information made known to them be kept strictly confidential. Further, some of our formulations have been developed by or with our suppliers and co-manufacturers. As a result, we may not be able to prevent others from using similar formulations.

We cannot be certain that the steps we have taken to protect our intellectual property rights are adequate, that our intellectual property rights can be successfully defended and asserted in the future or that third parties will not infringe upon or misappropriate any such rights. In addition, our trademark rights and related registrations may be challenged in the future and could be canceled or narrowed. Failure to protect our trademark rights could prevent us in the future from challenging third parties who use names and logos similar to our trademarks, which may in turn cause consumer confusion or negatively affect consumers’ perception of our brand and products. Moreover, intellectual property disputes and proceedings and infringement claims may result in a significant distraction for management and significant expense, which may not be recoverable regardless of whether we are successful. Such proceedings may be protracted with no certainty of success, and an adverse outcome could subject us to liabilities, force us to cease use of certain trademarks or other intellectual property or force us to enter into licenses with others. Any one of these occurrences may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock and Other General Risks

Our stock price may be volatile, and the value of our common stock may decline.

The market price of our common stock may be highly volatile and may fluctuate or decline substantially as a result of a variety of factors, some of which are beyond our control, including:

 

actual or anticipated fluctuations in our financial condition or results of operations;

 

variance in our financial performance from expectations of securities analysts;

 

changes in our projected operating and financial results;

 

announcements by us or our competitors of significant business developments, acquisitions or new offerings;

 

announcements or concerns regarding real or perceived quality or health issues with our products or similar products of our competitors;

 

adoption of new regulations applicable to the food industry or the expectations concerning future regulatory developments;

 

our involvement in litigation;

 

sales of our common stock by us or our stockholders, as well as the anticipation of lock-up releases;

 

changes in senior management or key personnel;

 

the trading volume of our common stock; and

 

changes in the anticipated future size and growth rate of our market.

Broad market and industry fluctuations, as well as general economic, political, regulatory and market conditions, may also negatively impact the market price of our common stock, particularly in light of uncertainties surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the related impacts.

An active public market for our common stock may not develop or be sustained.

Prior to the closing of our IPO on August 4, 2020, no public market for our common stock existed. An active public trading market for our common stock may not continue to develop or, if further developed, may not be sustained. The lack of an active market may impair your ability to sell your shares at the time you wish to sell them or at a price that you consider reasonable. The lack of an active market may also reduce the fair value of your shares. An inactive market may also impair our ability to raise capital to continue to fund operations by selling shares and may impair our ability to acquire other companies by using our shares as consideration.

Insiders have substantial control over us and will be able to influence corporate matters.

Based on the number of shares outstanding as of December 26, 2021, our directors, and officers hold, in the aggregate, approximately 44% of our outstanding capital stock. As a result, these stockholders are able to exercise significant influence over all matters requiring stockholder approval, including the election of directors and approval of significant corporate transactions, such as a merger or other sale of our company or its assets. This concentration of ownership could limit stockholders’ ability to influence corporate matters, including, but not limited to, delaying or preventing a third party from acquiring control over us.

Sales of our common stock in the public market could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.

Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that these sales might occur, could depress the market price of our common stock and could impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity securities. Many of our existing equity holders have substantial unrecognized gains on the value of the equity they hold, and therefore they may take steps to sell their shares or otherwise secure the unrecognized gains on those shares. We are unable to predict the timing of or the effect that such sales may have on the prevailing market price of our common stock.

In addition, as of December 26, 2021, there were 5,034,900 shares of common stock issuable upon the exercise of outstanding stock options or subject to vesting of outstanding restricted stock awards. We have registered all of the shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of outstanding stock options, vesting of outstanding restricted stock awards or other equity incentives we may grant in the future, for public resale under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act. The shares of common stock will become eligible for sale in the public market to the extent such options are exercised, subject to the lock-up agreements described above and compliance with applicable securities laws.

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Further, based on shares outstanding as of December 26, 2021, holders of approximately 13.3 million shares of our capital stock and certain shares that may be issued in the future upon exercise or vesting of outstanding equity awards, have rights, subject to some conditions, to require us to file registration statements covering the sale of their shares or to include their shares in registration statements that we may file for ourselves or other stockholders.

Our issuance of additional capital stock in connection with financings, acquisitions, investments, our equity incentive plans or otherwise will dilute all other stockholders.

We expect to issue additional capital stock in the future that will result in dilution to all other stockholders. We expect to grant equity awards to employees, directors and consultants under our equity incentive plans. We may also raise capital through equity financings in the future. As part of our business strategy, we may acquire or make investments in companies and issue equity securities to pay for any such acquisition or investment. Any such issuances of additional capital stock may cause stockholders to experience significant dilution of their ownership interests and the per share value of our common stock to decline.

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish unfavorable or inaccurate research about our business, the market price and trading volume of our common stock could decline.

The market price and trading volume of our common stock is heavily influenced by the way analysts interpret our financial information and other disclosures. We do not have control over these analysts. If few securities analysts commence coverage of us, or if industry analysts cease coverage of us, our stock price would be negatively affected. If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, downgrade our common stock, or publish negative reports about our business, our stock price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of us or fail to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our common stock could decrease, which might cause our stock price to decline and could decrease the trading volume of our common stock.

We do not intend to pay dividends for the foreseeable future.

While we have previously paid cash dividends on our capital stock, we do not intend to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any determination to pay dividends in the future will be at the discretion of our board of directors. Accordingly, you may need to rely on sales of our common stock after price appreciation, which may never occur, as the only way to realize any future gains on your investment.

 

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We may be subject to significant liability that is not covered by insurance.

Although we believe that the extent of our insurance coverage is consistent with industry practice, any claim under our insurance policies may be subject to certain exceptions, may not be honored fully, in a timely manner, or at all, and we may not have purchased sufficient insurance to cover all losses incurred. If we were to incur substantial liabilities or if our business operations were interrupted for a substantial period of time, we could incur costs and suffer losses. Such inventory and business interruption losses may not be covered by our insurance policies. Any significant uninsured liability may require us to pay substantial amounts, which would adversely affect our cash position and results of operations. Additionally, in the future, insurance coverage may not be available to us at commercially acceptable premiums, or at all.

Increases in interest rates could adversely affect our business.

Our business and operating results could be harmed by factors such as the availability, terms of and cost of capital and increases in interest rates. These changes could cause our cost of doing business to increase and limit our ability to pursue growth opportunities. Disruptions and volatility in the global financial markets may lead to a contraction in credit availability impacting our ability to finance our operations. A significant reduction in cash flows from operations or the availability of credit could materially and adversely affect our ability to achieve planned growth and operating results.  

Anti-takeover provisions in our charter documents and under Delaware law could make an acquisition of our company more difficult, limit attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management and limit the market price of our common stock.

Provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws, and provisions of Delaware law applicable to us as a public benefit corporation, may have the effect of delaying or preventing a change of control or changes in our management. Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws include provisions that:

 

authorize our board of directors to issue, without further action by the stockholders, shares of undesignated preferred stock with terms, rights and preferences determined by our board of directors that may be senior to our common stock;

 

require that any action to be taken by our stockholders be effected at a duly called annual or special meeting and not by written consent;

 

specify that special meetings of our stockholders can be called only by our board of directors, the chairperson of our board of directors, or our chief executive officer;

 

establish an advance notice procedure for stockholder proposals to be brought before an annual meeting, including proposed nominations of persons for election to our board of directors;

 

establish that our board of directors is divided into three classes, with each class serving three-year staggered terms;

 

prohibit cumulative voting in the election of directors;

 

provide that our directors may be removed for cause only upon the vote of at least 66 2/3% of our outstanding shares of voting stock; and

 

provide that vacancies on our board of directors may be filled only by a majority of directors then in office, even though less than a quorum.

These provisions may frustrate or prevent any attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management by making it more difficult for stockholders to replace members of our board of directors, which is responsible for appointing the members of our management. In addition, because we are incorporated in Delaware, we are governed by the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which generally, subject to certain exceptions, prohibits a Delaware corporation from engaging in any of a broad range of business combinations with any “interested” stockholder for a period of three years following the date on which the stockholder became an “interested” stockholder.

Also, as a public benefit corporation, our board of directors is required by the Delaware General Corporation Law to manage or direct our business and affairs in a manner that balances the pecuniary interests of our stockholders, the best interests of those materially affected by our conduct, and the specific public benefits identified in our certificate of incorporation. Additionally, pursuant to our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, a vote of at least 66 2/3% of our outstanding shares of voting stock is required for matters directly or indirectly amending or removing our public benefit purpose, or to effect a merger or consolidation involving stock consideration with an entity that is not a public benefit corporation with an identical public benefit to ours. We believe that our public benefit corporation status will make it more difficult for another party to obtain control of us without maintaining our public benefit corporation status and purpose. Any of the foregoing provisions could limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our common stock, and they could deter potential acquirers of our company, thereby reducing the likelihood that you would receive a premium for your shares of our common stock in an acquisition.

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Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation designates the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware and, with respect to certain matters, the federal district courts of the United States of America as the exclusive forums for substantially all disputes between us and our stockholders, which could restrict our stockholders’ ability to choose the judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or employees.

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, if and only if the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware lacks subject matter jurisdiction, any state court located within the State of Delaware or, if and only if all such state courts lack subject matter jurisdiction, the federal district court for the District of Delaware) is the exclusive forum for the following types of actions or proceedings under Delaware statutory or common law: any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf; any action asserting a breach of a fiduciary duty; any action asserting a claim against us arising pursuant to the Delaware General Corporation Law, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws; any action as to which the Delaware General Corporation Law confers jurisdiction to the court of Chancery of the State of Delaware; or any action asserting a claim against us that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine. The provisions would not apply to suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, or any other claim for which federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction.

Furthermore, Section 22 of the Securities Act creates concurrent jurisdiction for federal and state courts over all such Securities Act actions. Accordingly, both state and federal courts have jurisdiction to entertain such claims. To prevent having to litigate claims in multiple jurisdictions and the threat of inconsistent or contrary rulings by different courts, among other considerations, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that the federal district courts of the United States of America will be the exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act.

These choice of forum provisions may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and other employees. While Delaware courts have determined that such choice of forum provisions are facially valid, a stockholder may nevertheless seek to bring such a claim arising under the Securities Act against us and our directors, officers or other employees in a venue other than in the federal district courts of the United States of America. In such instance, we would expect to vigorously assert the validity and enforceability of the exclusive forum provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation. This may require further significant additional costs associated with resolving the dispute in other jurisdictions, and there can be no assurance that the provisions will be enforced by a court in those other jurisdictions, any of which could seriously harm our business.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.

Not applicable.

Item 2. Properties.

We lease our corporate headquarters located at 3601 South Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas, where we occupy approximately 9,100 square feet of office space pursuant to a lease that expires in April 2026, with an option to extend this lease for a period of five years. We own our shell egg processing facility in Springfield, Missouri totaling approximately 82,000 square feet, which we refer to as Egg Central Station, and we are in the process of expanding this facility. We also lease approximately 92,000 square feet of warehouse space in Springfield, Missouri, which provides access to 10,000 pallet spaces pursuant to a lease that expires in September 2023. We believe that our current facilities are suitable and adequate to meet our current needs.  

We are subject to various legal proceedings and claims that arise in the ordinary course of our business. Although the outcome of these and other claims cannot be predicted with certainty, we do not believe the ultimate resolution of the current matters will have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.

Not applicable.

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PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.

Market Information

Our common stock began trading on the Nasdaq Global Market on July 31, 2020, under the symbol “VITL.” Prior to that time, there was no public market for our common stock.

Holders of Record

As of March 7, 2022, we had approximately 13 holders of record of our common stock. Certain shares are held in “street” name and accordingly, the number of beneficial owners of such shares is not known or included in the foregoing number. This number of holders of record also does not include stockholders whose shares may be held in trust by other entities.

Dividend Policy

We declared cash dividends on our common stock in June 2013 totaling approximately $0.3 million. We cannot provide any assurance that we will declare or pay cash dividends on our capital stock in the future. In addition, our ability to pay dividends on our capital stock may subject to limitations under the terms of our credit facility agreement with PNC Bank, National Association, or the Credit Facility, or other credit facilities we may enter into from time to time. See Note 10 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for additional information on the Credit Facility. We currently intend to retain all available funds and future earnings, if any, to fund the development and expansion of our business, and we do not anticipate declaring or paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination regarding the declaration and payment of dividends, if any, will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on then-existing conditions, including our financial condition, operating results, contractual restrictions (including in our then-existing debt arrangements), capital requirements, business prospects and other factors our board of directors may deem relevant.

Comparative Stock Performance Graph

The following performance graph shows a comparison from July 31, 2020 (the date our common stock commenced trading on the Nasdaq Global Market) through December 26, 2021, of the cumulative total return for our common stock, the Nasdaq Composite Index and the Nasdaq US Smart Food & Beverage Index.

 

The graph assumes an initial investment of $100 on July 31, 2020. The comparisons in the graph are not intended to forecast or be indicative of possible future performance of our common stock. The performance graph and related information shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the SEC, nor shall such information be incorporated by reference into any future filing under the Securities Act or Exchange Act.

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Recent Sales of Unregistered Equity Securities

None.

Use of Proceeds

Use of Proceeds from the IPO

On August 4, 2020, we completed our IPO, in which we issued and sold 5,040,323 shares of our common stock and certain of our selling stockholders offered and sold 5,659,250 shares of our common stock at a price to the public of $22.00 per share. We received net proceeds from the IPO of approximately $99.7 million, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions of $7.8 million and offering expenses of $3.4 million. None of the expenses associated with the IPO were paid to directors, officers, persons owning 10% or more of any class of equity securities, or to their associates. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC acted as joint lead bookrunning managers for the IPO. Jefferies, BMO Capital Markets Corp. and Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated acted as bookrunning managers for the IPO.

Shares of our common stock began trading on the Nasdaq Global Market on July 31, 2020. The offer and sale of the shares were registered under the Securities Act on Registration Statement on Form S-1 (Registration No. 333-239772), which was declared effective on July 30, 2020.

There has been no material change in the planned use of proceeds from our IPO as described in the Annual Report. We invested the funds received in cash equivalents and other marketable securities in accordance with our investment policy. As of December 26, 2021, we have used an aggregate of $25.9 million of the IPO proceeds, including $7.3 million to pay off our term loan, $1.9 million to pay off our equipment loan in 2020 and $16.7 million for capital expenditures. See Note 10 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for additional information on the Credit Facility.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

None.

 

Item 6. [Reserved]

 

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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

The following discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results may differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth in Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors,” and “Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” included elsewhere in this Annual Report. The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our audited financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report.

Overview

Our mission is to bring ethical food to the table, and we are disrupting the U.S. food system by developing a framework that challenges the norms of the incumbent food model, allowing us to bring high-quality products from our network of family farms to a national audience. This framework has enabled us to become the leading U.S. brand of pasture-raised eggs and butter and the second largest U.S. egg brand by retail dollar sales. Our ethics are exemplified by our focus on animal welfare and sustainable farming practices. We believe our standards produce happy hens with varied diets, which produce better eggs. There is a seismic shift in consumer demand for natural, traceable, clean-label, great-tasting and nutritious foods. Supported by a steadfast adherence to the values on which we were founded, we have designed our brand and products to appeal to this consumer movement.

Our purpose is rooted in a commitment to Conscious Capitalism, which prioritizes the long-term benefits of each of our stakeholders (farmers and suppliers, customers and consumers, communities and the environment, crew members and stockholders). We make decisions based on what’s sustainable for all our stakeholders. Simply put, we will not be a sustainable business if our stakeholders are not sustainable as well. Our collective sustainable business practices will enable us to fulfill our purpose of improving the lives of people, animals, and the planet through food, now and long into the future. For us, it is not about short-term outcomes or a trade-off between purpose and profit. We are fierce business competitors who believe that prioritizing the long-term viability of all stakeholders will produce stronger outcomes, for everyone, over time. These principles guide our day-to-day operations and, we believe, help us deliver a more sustainable and successful business. Our approach has been validated by our financial performance and our designation and January 2022 recertification as a Certified B Corporation, a certification reserved for businesses that balance profit and purpose to meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability.

 

We source our products from a network of more than 275 family farms. We have strategically designed our supply chain to ensure high production standards and optimal year-round operation. We are motivated by the positive impact we have on rural communities and enjoy a strong relationship and reputation with our network of farmers.

We primarily work with our farms pursuant to buy-sell contracts. Under these arrangements, the farmer is responsible for all of the working capital and investments required to produce the eggs and manage the farm, including purchasing the birds and feed supply. We are contractually obligated to purchase all of the eggs produced by the farmer during the term of the contract at an agreed-upon price that depends upon pallet weight and is indexed quarterly in arrears for changes in feed cost.

We believe we are a strategic and valuable partner to retailers. We have continued to command premium prices for our products, including our shell eggs, which sell for as much as three times the price of commodity eggs. Our loyal and growing consumer base has fueled the expansion of our brand from the natural channel to the mainstream channel. We believe the success of our brand demonstrates that consumers are demanding premium products that meet a higher ethical standard of food production. We have a strong presence at Kroger, Sprouts Farmers Market, or Sprouts, Target and Whole Foods, and we also sell our products at Albertsons, Publix and Walmart. We offer 32 retail stock keeping units, or SKUs through a multi-channel retail distribution network. We believe we have significant room for growth within the retail and, in the medium- to long-term, foodservice channels through growing brand awareness, gaining additional points of distribution and new product innovation.

Our shell eggs are collected from farmers by a third-party freight carrier and placed in cold storage until we pack them for shipping to our customers at our state-of-the-art shell egg processing facility, Egg Central Station. Egg Central Station is approximately 82,000 square feet and utilizes highly automated equipment to grade and package our shell egg products. Egg Central Station is capable of packing three million eggs per day and has achieved Safe Quality Food, or SQF Good rating, the highest level of such certification from the Global Food Safety Initiative. In addition, as of January 2020, Egg Central Station is the only egg facility to receive, and we are one of only six companies globally to have received, the SQFI Select Site certification.

Our products are distributed through a broker-distributor-retailer network whereby brokers represent our products to distributors and retailers who will in turn sell our products to consumers. We serve the majority of natural channel customers through food distributors, such as UNFI and US Foods and KeHE, which purchase, store, sell and deliver our products to Whole Foods (UNFI and US Foods) and Sprouts (KeHE).  In the fiscal years ended December 26, 2021, December 27, 2020, and December 29, 2019, UNFI accounted for approximately 18%, 15%, and 35% of our net revenue, respectively, US Foods accounted for approximately 14%, 18%, and less than 10% of our net revenue, respectively, and KeHE accounted for approximately 10%, 12%, and 11% of our net revenue,

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respectively. We serve mainstream retailers by arranging for delivery of our products directly through their distribution centers. We also leverage distributor relationships to fulfill orders for certain independent grocers and other customers.

We have experienced consistent sales growth. We had net revenue of $260.9 million and $214.3 million, net income of $2.4 million and $8.8 million, and Adjusted EBITDA of $8.0 million and $16.8 million in the fiscal years ended December 26, 2021 and December 27, 2020, respectively. See the section titled “—Non-GAAP Financial Measure—Adjusted EBITDA” below for the definition of Adjusted EBITDA, as well as a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net income, the most directly comparable financial measure stated in accordance with GAAP.

On August 4, 2020, we completed our initial public offering, or IPO, of 10,699,573 shares of common stock at an offering price of $22.00 per share.  We issued and sold 5,040,323 shares of common stock and the selling stockholders sold 5,659,250 shares of common stock, including 1,395,596 shares of common stock sold by the selling stockholders pursuant to the underwriters’ exercise in full of their option to purchase additional shares. We received gross proceeds of approximately $110.9 million before deducting underwriting discounts, commissions and offering related transaction costs; we did not receive any proceeds from the sale of shares by the selling stockholders. Upon the closing of the IPO in August 2020, all of our then-outstanding shares of redeemable convertible preferred stock automatically converted into 8,192,876 shares of common stock on a one-for-one basis. Following the closing of the IPO, there were no shares of redeemable convertible preferred stock outstanding.

In November 2020, we completed a secondary public offering of 5,000,000 shares of common stock sold by selling stockholders, from which no proceeds were received and expenses incurred totaled $0.5 million.

COVID-19 Business Update

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued in the fiscal year ended December 26, 2021, we continued to maintain a cross-functional task force and execute on business continuity plans designed to address and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and our stakeholders, comprised of farmers and suppliers, customers and consumers, communities and the environment, crew members and stockholders. While we are not experiencing material adverse impacts at this time, given the overall disruption of global supply chains and distribution systems and the other risks and uncertainties associated with the pandemic, our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected. We continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation as we evolve our business continuity plans and response strategy. In March 2020, the majority of our crew members at our headquarters transitioned to working remotely, and we have subsequently decided to permit such crew members to work remotely on a permanent basis. The efficacy of vaccinations, the timing of the development of herd immunity, the potential emergence of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 variant and the prospect of additional shelter in place and similar movement restrictions are unknown, and further virus mutations and variants may have an adverse impact on our business.

Egg Central Station continues to be operational and we have implemented a number of measures to prevent and mitigate any outbreak of COVID-19 at that facility; however, we may need to modify or reduce operations due to the evolving effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to follow the COVID-19 protocol and preventative measures we have implemented at Egg Central Station to protect the health and safety of our crew members, customers and community.

Supply Chain

We are working closely with our farmers, suppliers and third-party manufacturers to manage our supply chain activities and mitigate potential disruptions to our product supplies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We currently expect to have an adequate supply of eggs to meet anticipated demand in fiscal 2022, as well as adequate capacity for packing and processing our eggs.

Additionally, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been recent disruptions in the U.S. cream supply, including significant volatility of prices and demand, hauling challenges due to labor shortages and ongoing financial pressures in milk cooperatives. We have worked with our co-manufacturers to mitigate these supply disruptions, and as a result there has been no impact on our ability to fill customer orders for butter or ghee products, although we expect that these supply disruptions will continue for the foreseeable future and that they may be further exacerbated by the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. If the COVID-19 pandemic continues to persist for an extended period of time and further impacts egg or cream supply, or disrupts our essential distribution systems, we could experience disruptions to our supply chain and operations, and associated delays in the manufacturing and supply of our products, which would adversely impact our ability to generate sales of and revenues from our products.

Corporate Development

With cash and cash equivalents of $31.0 million as of December 26, 2021 and access to additional funds as a result of our IPO and under our credit facility agreement with PNC Bank, National Association, or the Credit Facility, we anticipate having sufficient liquidity to make investments in our business this fiscal year in support of our long-term growth strategy. Our IPO, which was completed on August 4, 2020, resulted in net proceeds to us of approximately $99.7 million, after deducting underwriting discounts,

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commissions and offering costs associated with the offering. We expect that our cash and cash equivalents as of December 26, 2021, together with cash provided by our operating activities and availability of borrowings under our existing Credit Facility, will be sufficient to fund our operating expenses for at least the next 12 months and to make investments in our business in support of our long-term growth strategy.

Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including our pace of new and existing customer growth, our investments in innovation, our investments in partnerships and unexplored channels and the costs associated with our expansion of Egg Central Station. We may be required to seek additional equity or debt financing. However, a significant disruption of global financial markets (including a disruption due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic) may result in our inability to access additional capital, which could in the future negatively affect our operations. In the event that we require additional financing, we may not be able to raise such financing on terms acceptable to us or at all. If we are unable to raise additional capital or generate cash flows necessary to expand our operations and invest in continued innovation and product expansion, we may not be able to compete successfully, which would harm our business, operations and results of operations.

Our Fiscal Year

We report on a 52-53-week fiscal year, ending on the last Sunday in December, effective beginning with the first quarter of fiscal 2018. In a 52-53-week fiscal year, each fiscal quarter consists of 13 weeks. The additional week in a 53-week fiscal year is added to the fourth quarter, making such quarter consist of 14 weeks. Our first 53-week fiscal year will be fiscal 2023, which we expect to begin on December 26, 2022 and end on December 31, 2023. See “Nature of the Business and Basis of Presentation” in Note 1 to our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for additional details related to our fiscal calendar.

Key Factors Affecting Our Business

We believe that the growth of our business and our future success are dependent upon many factors. While each of these factors presents significant opportunities for us, they also pose important challenges that we must successfully address to enable us to sustain the growth of our business and improve our results of operations.

Expand Household Penetration

We have positioned our brand to capitalize on growing consumer interest in natural, clean-label, traceable, ethical, great-tasting and nutritious foods. We believe there is substantial opportunity to grow our consumer base and increase the velocity at which households purchase our products. U.S. household penetration for the shell egg category is approximately 98%, while the household penetration for our shell eggs is approximately 5.0%. We intend to increase household penetration by continuing to invest significantly in sales and marketing to educate consumers about our brand, our values and the premium quality of our products. We believe these efforts will educate consumers on the attractive attributes of our products, generate further demand for our products and ultimately expand our consumer base. Our ability to attract new consumers will depend, among other things, on the perceived value and quality of our products, the offerings of our competitors and the effectiveness of our marketing efforts. Our performance depends significantly on factors that may affect the level and pattern of consumer spending in the U.S. natural food market in which we operate. Such factors include consumer preference, consumer confidence, consumer income, consumer perception of the safety and quality of our products and shifts in the perceived value for our products relative to alternatives.

Grow Within the Retail Channel

We believe that our ability to increase the number of customers that sell our products to consumers is an indicator of our market penetration and our future business opportunities. We define our customers as the entities that sell our products to consumers. With certain of our retail customers, like Whole Foods and Sprouts, we sell our products through distributors. We are not able to precisely attribute our net revenue to a specific retailer for products sold through such channels. We rely on third-party data to calculate the portion of retail sales attributable to such retailers, but this data is inherently imprecise because it is based on gross sales generated by our products sold at retailers, without accounting for price concessions, promotional activities or chargebacks, and because it measures retail sales for only the portion of our retailers serviced through distributors. Based on this third-party data and internal analysis, Whole Foods accounted for approximately 29% and 28% of our retail sales for the fiscal years ended December 26, 2021 and December 27, 2020, respectively, and Sprouts accounted for approximately 7% and 7% of our retail sales for the fiscal years ended December 26, 2021 and December 27, 2020, respectively.

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As of December 2021, there were more than 20,900 stores selling our products. We expect the retail channel to be our largest source of net revenue for the foreseeable future. By capturing greater shelf space, driving higher product velocities and increasing our SKU count, we believe there is meaningful runway for further growth with existing retail customers. Additionally, we believe there is significant opportunity to gain incremental stores from existing customers as well as by adding new retail customers. We also believe there is significant further long-term opportunity in additional distribution channels, including the convenience, drugstore, club, military and international markets. Our ability to execute on this strategy will increase our opportunities for incremental sales to consumers, and we also believe this growth will allow for margin expansion. To accomplish these objectives, we intend to continue leveraging consumer awareness of and demand for our brand, offering targeted sales incentives to our customers and utilizing customer-specific marketing tactics. Our ability to grow within the retail channel will depend on a number of factors, such as our customers’ satisfaction with the sales, product velocities and profitability of our products.

Expand Footprint Across Foodservice

We believe there is significant demand for our products in the foodservice channel since we offer versatile ingredients with high menu penetrations across all commercial and non-commercial operator segments. We see considerable opportunity for medium- to long-term growth in this channel by increasing our category market share through sales to values-aligned foodservice operators and their distributors. We are working with Waypoint, a foodservice sales and marketing agency in the consumer-packaged goods industry, to increase our broadline distribution and presence in national and regional restaurant chains. We believe that most U.S. consumers' food preferences are driven primarily by what they encounter on restaurant menus, so we are also leveraging foodservice as a critical consumer touchpoint to drive brand awareness and purchase rates of our products in the retail channel. We are investing in co-marketing to reach new households. We believe that joint marketing tactics are mutually beneficial for our operator partners and enhance their perceived customer value and that our products and on-menu branding can help operators differentiate themselves, increase check sizes and drive loyalty in an industry still recovering from the pandemic and its macro-economic impacts. An example of our recent foodservice growth initiative is our relationship with HomeState, a Texas kitchen in Southern California which sells breakfast tacos made exclusively with our liquid whole eggs across 4 restaurant locations. We have launched similar regional partnerships in all 4 of our U.S. sales regions, including Blue Plate Restaurant Company, a casual dining group comprised of 7 concepts in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area; Cafe Patachou, a breakfast and lunch restaurant based in the Indianapolis, Indiana area with 5 locations; King David Tacos, which sells breakfast tacos made exclusively with our medium shell eggs at their 3 locations and more than 20 retail outlets around New York City; Pura Vida, a fresh all-day concept in the Miami, Florida area with 9 locations; Hat Creek Burger Company, a fast-casual restaurant with over 26 locations across Texas; Tacodeli, which sells breakfast tacos made exclusively with our shell eggs across 11 restaurant locations and approximately 90 points of distribution, such as coffee shops and farmers' market stands, across Texas; and Moe's Broadway Bagel, an East Coast-style family-run bagel chain with 7 locations in the Denver/Boulder, Colorado area.

Expand Our Product Offerings

We intend to continue to strengthen our product offerings by investing in innovation in new and existing categories. We have a history of product introductions and intend to continue to innovate by introducing new products from time to time. Eggs generated $240.0 million, or approximately 92%, of net revenue in fiscal 2021. We expect eggs will be our largest source of net revenue for the foreseeable future. We believe that investments in innovation will contribute to our long-term growth, including by reinforcing our efforts to increase household penetration. Our ability to successfully develop, market and sell new products will depend on a variety of factors, including the availability of capital to invest in innovation, as well as changing consumer preferences and demand for food products.

Key Components of Results of Operations

Net Revenue

We generate net revenue primarily from sales of our products, including eggs and butter to our customers, which include natural retailers, mainstream retailers and foodservice partners. We sell our products to customers on a purchase-order basis. We serve the majority of our natural channel customers and certain independent grocers and other customers through food distributors, which purchase, store, sell and deliver our products to these customers.

We periodically offer sales incentives to our customers, including rebates, temporary price reductions, off-invoice discounts, retailer advertisements, product coupons and other trade activities. We record a provision for sales incentives at the later of the date at which the related revenue is recognized or when the sales incentive is offered. At the end of each accounting period, we recognize a liability for an estimated promotional allowance reserve. We periodically provide credits or discounts to our customers in the event that products do not conform to customer expectations upon delivery or expire at a customer’s site. We treat these credits and discounts as a reduction of the sales price of the related transaction at the time of sale. We anticipate that these promotional activities, credits and discounts could impact our net revenue and that changes in such activities could impact period-over-period results.

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Our shell eggs are sold to consumers at a premium price point, and when prices for commodity shell eggs fall relative to the price of our shell eggs, price-sensitive consumers may choose to purchase commodity shell eggs offered by our competitors instead of our eggs. As a result, low commodity shell egg prices may adversely affect our net revenue. Net revenue may also vary from period to period depending on the purchase orders we receive, the volume and mix of our products sold, and the channels through which our products are sold.

Selling, General and Administrative

Selling, general and administrative expenses consist primarily of broker and contractor fees for sales and marketing, and personnel costs for sales and marketing, finance, human resources and other administrative functions, consisting of salaries, benefits, bonuses, stock-based compensation expense and sales commissions. Selling, general and administrative expenses also include advertising and digital media costs, agency fees, travel and entertainment costs, and costs associated with consumer promotions, product samples, sales aids incurred to acquire new customers, retain existing customers and build our brand awareness, overhead costs for facilities, including associated depreciation and amortization expenses, and information technology-related expenses.

Shipping and Distribution

Shipping and distribution expenses consist primarily of costs related to third-party freight for our products. We expect shipping and distribution expenses to increase in absolute dollars in the medium-to-long term, as we continue to scale our business.

Results of Operations

The following table sets forth our results of operations for the periods presented (in thousands):

 

 

 

 

Fiscal Year Ended

 

 

 

December 26,

2021

 

 

December 27,

2020

 

 

December 29,

2019

 

Net revenue

 

$

260,901

 

 

$

214,280

 

 

$

140,733

 

Cost of goods sold

 

 

178,002

 

 

 

139,752

 

 

 

97,856

 

Gross profit

 

 

82,899

 

 

 

74,528

 

 

 

42,877

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selling, general and administrative(1)

 

 

57,868

 

 

 

47,396

 

 

 

29,526

 

Shipping and distribution

 

 

24,979

 

 

 

14,904

 

 

 

10,001

 

Total operating expenses

 

 

82,847

 

 

 

62,300

 

 

 

39,527

 

Income from operations

 

 

52

 

 

 

12,228

 

 

 

3,350

 

Other income (expense), net:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest expense

 

 

(52

)

 

 

(488

)

 

 

(349

)

Other income (expense), net

 

 

354

 

 

 

(86

)

 

 

1,417

 

Total other income (expense), net

 

 

302

 

 

 

(574

)

 

 

1,068

 

Net income before income taxes

 

 

354

 

 

 

11,654

 

 

 

4,418

 

(Benefit) provision for income taxes

 

 

(2,028

)

 

 

2,770

 

 

 

1,106

 

Net income

 

 

2,382

 

 

 

8,884

 

 

 

3,312

 

Less: Net (loss) income attributable to noncontrolling

   interests

 

 

(47

)

 

 

84

 

 

 

927

 

Net income attributable to Vital Farms, Inc. common

   stockholders

 

$

2,429

 

 

$

8,800

 

 

$

2,385

 

 

 

(1)

Includes stock-based compensation expense of $4,440, $2,509, and $1,029 for the fiscal years 2021, 2020, and 2019, respectively.

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The following table sets forth our consolidated statements of operations data expressed as a percentage of net revenue for the periods presented:

 

 

 

Fiscal Year Ended

 

 

 

December 26,

2021

 

 

December 27,

2020

 

 

December 29,

2019

 

 

 

Amount

 

 

% of

Revenue

 

 

Amount

 

 

% of

Revenue

 

 

Amount

 

 

% of

Revenue

 

 

 

(dollars in thousands)

 

Net revenue

 

$

260,901

 

 

 

100

%

 

$

214,280

 

 

 

100

%

 

$

140,733

 

 

 

100

%

Cost of goods sold

 

 

178,002

 

 

 

68

%

 

 

139,752

 

 

 

65

%

 

 

97,856

 

 

 

70

%

Gross profit

 

 

82,899

 

 

 

32

%

 

 

74,528

 

 

 

35

%

 

 

42,877

 

 

 

30

%

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selling, general and administrative

 

 

57,868

 

 

 

22

%

 

 

47,396

 

 

 

22

%

 

 

29,526

 

 

 

21

%

Shipping and distribution

 

 

24,979

 

 

 

10

%

 

 

14,904

 

 

 

7

%

 

 

10,001

 

 

 

7

%

Total operating expenses

 

 

82,847

 

 

 

32

%

 

 

62,300

 

 

 

29

%

 

 

39,527

 

 

 

28

%

Income from operations

 

 

52

 

 

 

0

%

 

 

12,228

 

 

 

6

%

 

 

3,350

 

 

 

2

%

Other income (expense), net:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest expense

 

 

(52

)

 

 

 

 

 

(488

)

 

 

 

 

 

(349

)

 

 

 

Other income (expense), net

 

 

354

 

 

 

 

 

 

(86

)

 

 

0

%

 

 

1,417

 

 

 

 

Total other income (expense), net

 

 

302

 

 

 

 

 

 

(574

)

 

 

0

%

 

 

1,068

 

 

 

 

Net income before income taxes

 

 

354

 

 

 

0

%

 

 

11,654

 

 

 

5

%

 

 

4,418

 

 

 

3

%

(Benefit) provision for income taxes

 

 

(2,028

)

 

 

(1

)%

 

 

2,770

 

 

 

1

%

 

 

1,106

 

 

 

1

%

Net income

 

$

2,382

 

 

 

1

%

 

$

8,884

 

 

 

4

%

 

$

3,312

 

 

 

2

%

 

Fiscal Year Ended December 26, 2021 Compared to Fiscal Year Ended December 27, 2020

Net Revenue

 

 

 

Fiscal Year Ended

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 26,

2021

 

 

December 27,

2020

 

 

$ Change

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

Net revenue

 

$

260,901

 

 

$

214,280

 

 

$

46,621

 

 

 

22

%

 

The increase in net revenue of $46.6 million, or 22%, was primarily driven by an increase in egg-related product sales of $43.8 million and an increase in butter-related product sales of $3.4 million. The increases in egg and butter-related sales were primarily due to volume increases to our distributors as well as new distributions to new and existing customers. Net revenue from sales through our retail channel was $256.5 million and $208.5 million for fiscal 2021 and 2020, respectively.

Gross Profit and Gross Margin

 

 

 

Fiscal Year Ended

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 26,

2021

 

 

December 27,

2020

 

 

$ Change

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

Gross profit

 

$

82,899