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Mondelēz International is taking the wrapper off its latest cohort of startups.
SnackFutures, which is the Ritz and Oreo maker’s innovation and venture hub, announced nine companies that will take part in the latest edition of CoLab. It’s the third cohort of the startup engagement program, which launched in 2021 to help build out a portfolio of up-and-coming brands, as well as increase the venture pipeline.
This year’s cohort focused on innovation in taste. Mondelēz put out a call for startups that “are doing disruptive things to make snacks delicious.”
Participants in the cohort take part in a 12-week curriculum, and get access to Mondelēz International’s experts, global network and a $20,000 grant.
“SnackFutures’ focus is to curate a portfolio of disruptive brands that can give Mondelēz International first-mover advantage on snack innovation, get us even closer to the consumer, and accelerate our financial, reputational, and cultural growth,” said Jackie Haney, head of CoLab. “CoLab is pivotal to that because it allows us to work with, learn from and nurture early-stage brands that have the potential to scale.”
Here’s a look at the full cohort, with descriptions provided by a press release from Mondelēz.
CocoTerra is an entrepreneurial personal chocolate maker. The CocoTerra machine enables chocolate lovers to simply and easily create their own dark, milk and white chocolate right in their own kitchens.
DreamPops was created by ice cream & confection lovers who dreamed of enjoying iconic flavors in simple, non-dairy treats but couldn’t find any that satisfied their standards or sweet tooths. Their aim is for everyone to be able to enjoy plant-based, clean label frozen pops, bites and shelf stable candy crunch.
Freezcake delivers small bites of fresh and creamy cheesecake that can be enjoyed with a cup of coffee or in the car. Crafted by a skilled pastry chef, every batch is prepared from scratch and ultra-dried at the height of its freshness.
Incredible Eats allows consumers to treat themselves just a little longer with edible spoons and straws, which provide an alternative to single-use plastic utensils. They come in sweet and savory options, function for about an hour in cold foods and replace the use of single use plastics and dirty silverware.
Legally Addictivegives consumers a sweet and salty experience all-in-one bite with its cracker-based cookies. The cracker base is topped with chocolate, handmade salted toffee and comes in a variety of flavors.
Mezcla delivers a delightful combination of PUFF-CRISPY texture and plant protein in a crunchy snack bar experience. Each bar contains plant protein in unique flavor profiles.
New Gem aims to make wrapping a serving of fruit/vegetable into your daily routine as easy as making a sandwich wrap or sushi. These plant-based wraps use innovative technology that makes them alternatives to bread, tortillas and seaweed.
Steiner’s Coffee Cake of New York prides itself on bringing fresh ideas to coffee cake – using ingredients that make it so delicious and yet gluten free. Created by a New York grandmother who was diagnosed celiac, Steiner’s still uses its original family recipe.Whoa Dough is a shelf-stable cookie dough bar created for health-conscious consumers. This ‘on-the-go’ version of the iconic kid bowl-licking experience is plant-based, gluten free and vegan.
R&D hub opens
The new cohort arrived just a few days after Mondelēz cut the ribbon on a new R&D facility n Whippany, New Jersey. The $50 million Global Research & Development (R&D) Innovation Center has pilot and scale-up capabilities for cookies, crackers and candy.
“This strategic investment in our new Global Innovation Center will enable us to pilot exciting new snacking breakthroughs and bring about the next generation of innovation for Mondelēz snacks around the world,” said Daniel Ramos, EVP and Chief Research & Development Officer at Mondelēz International, in a statement. “We’re proud to bring together industry-leading talent and capabilities in this facility to create new products, packaging and process developments across our portfolio of beloved snacks.”
Trending in Brand News
Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse offered thoughts on messaging amid inflationary shifts in consumer behavior.
After months of elevated inflation and interest rate hikes that have the potential to cool demand, consumers are showing more signs of shifting behavior.
It’s showing up in retail sales data, but there’s also evidence in the observations of the brands responsible for grocery store staples.
The latest example came this week from Campbell Soup Company. CEO Mark Clouse told analysts that the consumer continues to be “resilient” despite continued price increases on food, but found that “consumers are beginning to feel that pressure” as time goes on.
This shows up in the categories they are buying. Overall, Clouse said Campbell sees a shift toward shelf-stable items, and away from more expensive prepared foods.
There is also change in when they make purchases. People are buying more at the beginning of the month. That’s because they are stretching paychecks as long as possible.
These shifts change how the company is communicating with consumers.
Clouse said the changes in behavior are an opportunity to “focus on value within our messaging without necessarily having to chase pricing all the way down.”
“No question that it's important that we protect affordability and that we make that relevant in the categories that we're in," Clouse said. "But I also think there's a lot of ways to frame value in different ways, right?”
A meal cooked with condensed soup may be cheaper than picking up a frozen item or ordering out. Consumers just need a reminder. Even within Campbell’s own portfolio, the company can elevate brands that have more value now, even if they may not always get the limelight.
The open question is whether the shift in behavior will begin to show up in the results of the companies that have raised prices. Campbell’s overall net sales grew 5% for the quarter ended April 30, while gross profit margins held steady around 30%. But the category-level results were more uneven. U.S. soup sales declined 11%, though the company said that was owed to comparisons with the quarter when supply chains reopened a year ago and expressed confidence that the category is seeing a longer-term resurgence as more people cook at home following the pandemic. Snacks, which includes Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm, were up 12% And while net sales increased overall, the amount of products people are buying is declining. Volumes were down 7%.
These are trends happening across the grocery store. Campbell is continuing to compete. It is leading with iconic brands, and a host of different ways to consume them. It is following that up with innovation that makes the products stand out. Then, it is driving home messaging that shows consumers how to fit the products into their lives, and even their tightening spending plans.
Campbell Soup is more than 150 years old, and has seen plenty of difficult economic environments. It is also a different business today, and will continue to evolve. At the end of the day, continued execution is what’s required.
“If it's good food, people are going to buy it, especially if it's a great value,” Clouse said.