St. Louis-Based Rootberry Eyes Regional Expansion for Its Plant-Based Prepared Foods Line

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Rootberry, now available at Dierbergs, is eyeing national expansion. - COMPLIMENTS OF ROOTBERRY
  • COMPLIMENTS OF ROOTBERRY
  • Rootberry, now available at Dierbergs, is eyeing national expansion.

Two years ago, business partners Marc Connor and J.T. Norville began talking about how they could make a plant-based diet — something that had dramatically improved their own health — more accessible to others. Now, that idea has grown into Rootberry (www.rootberry.com), a St. Louis-based prepared foods company whose recent partnership with Dierbergs Markets puts it on track to become a leader in plant-based delivery in both the region and nationally.

According to Connor, the vision for what would become Rootberry started when he and Norville were working together at the hotel development and management company, Midas Hospitality. The two were close colleagues, and after getting some news that his health was not on a great path, Connor reached out to Norville for advice about adopting a plant-based lifestyle to try to right the ship. Norville, who had been eating vegan for a while for similar reasons, offered Connor his thoughts, and before the two knew it, they were brainstorming on how they could help others.



"We decided this was something we were passionate about, and we felt there was an opportunity where it became clear to us that we wanted to help more people eat more plants more often," Connor says. "We wanted to satisfy someone who wanted to eat all plants all the time, but also deliver it in a way that would appeal to everyone."

Connor and Norville launched Rootberry this past June as a prepared foods company that delivers directly to homes and offices. They anticipated that they would be meeting a need in the community for such a service, but the response they received far exceeded their expectations. It also caught the eye of Dierbergs Markets, who reached out to Connor and Norville through a mutual friend to talk about partnering on having Rootberry's products in their stores.



"They saw that nobody was doing this and saw an opportunity," Connor says. "Our view is that everybody is different, not only in the type of foods they like to eat but how they want to eat them. Some plan ahead and have them delivered for the week, some think about what they are going to eat tomorrow and some don't think about it at all. Whether it's at Dierbergs or online or at one of our own places one day, we wanted to figure out all the ways to make it easy to fit into people's lives."

Connor credits Rootberry's success not just on the accessibility of their foods — which has now increased dramatically because of the Dierbergs partnership — but with the quality of ingredients, presentation and flavor of the meals. In developing their dishes, they consulted with nutritionists and chefs with taste as the number one driver of all that they do. They have also taken great care to package the dishes so that they present in an appealing way so that when their customers sit down to enjoy an enchilada, chili mac or fudge brownie, they feel as if they are being presented with a high-quality, appealing meal.

Connor believes that those factors that make Rootberry a joyful plant-based foods company will make it equally successful beyond the St. Louis area. As he explains, he sees Rootberry as growing throughout the metropolitan area and entire Midwest region, then eventually branching out to the East and West Coasts.

"The vision is that we are local and will stay local, even when we grow and expand," Connor says. "We want to make food, not manufacture it, and we feel that what we've learned here can be translated and applied everywhere."

We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at cheryl.baehr@riverfronttimes.com.

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