Am I allergic to this? Label Insight, with fresh $21M, helps stores tell you

Blue Sky Innovation

Label Insight, the Chicago-based company that helps stores tell customers what's in food and other goods, has raised $21 million in new funding, the company announced Tuesday.

The company started by using its technology to scan food packaging. It collects facts like nutritional information and marketing claims, providing the data to retailers or consumer packaged-goods manufacturers.

The end result: Someone with an allergy can ask a store rep and quickly figure out what products to avoid. Retailers get a tool to help customers understand what they’re buying, while companies can offer more information to sway ingredient-conscious shoppers.

The company says it works with brands like Unilever, Conagra, L’Oreal and Ocean Spray, and its database has information on more than 400,000 products. It provides that information to retailers like Albertsons, Meijer and Raley’s.

Earlier this year, Label Insight announced it was expanding into products like pet food, over-the-counter medicine, vitamins and supplements, and personal care items. CEO Paul Schaut said Label Insight plans on building its database to 1 million items with the new funding.

“The consumer’s mandate for more information doesn’t stop with what they eat — it includes what they put on their bodies, personal care; it includes what they feed their pets, pet food; or their babies, baby food,” Schaut said. “It’s not going to stop at what they buy at the grocery store. You get on a plane, you go to a restaurant, you’re going to want to know more about what you’re eating. Our business is just to support the industry any place the consumer is asking for more information.”

Schaut said Label Insight currently employs about 115 people, split evenly between its Chicago and St. Louis offices. With the funding, it plans to bring that number to 170 in the next 12 months. The hires will be focused on the company’s data science teams as well as its sales and marketing teams, he said.

The series C round brings the company’s total funding to roughly $35 million; the company closed its last round in January 2016. Delta-v Capital led the round alongside River Cities Capital Funds. Delta-v managing partner David Schaller joins Label Insight’s board along with the deal.

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