Just a little less than a year ago, we highlighted what was then a new trend the foodtech space: major CPGs launching food accelerators geared towards emerging brands. From Chobani to General Mills to Kraft-Heinz, it seemed Big Food had an appetite for assisting younger, trendier, and often healthier brands to grow in 2018. Some have acquisition in mind; others may simply be trying to remake their image as innovative companies.
Whatever their motivation, we’ll see a lot more of these programs in 2019 (in addition to the growing number of independent accelerators out there). Applications aren’t open yet for a lot of these, but they’re worth keeping an eye on to see where Big Food will put some of its big bucks this year (ahem, plant-based products).
Without further ado, here’s a look at some of the upcoming programs:
The Land O’ Lakes Dairy Accelerator
As the company claims, Land O’ Lakes was founded by “the original entrepreneurs — cooperative member farmers.” The company’s accelerator program looks to mentor and support early-stage startups with dairy-based products that aren’t butter. Plant-based dairy doesn’t count (yet). Applicants should have revenues of roughly $200,000 or more in the last 12 months.
Selected participants are expected to commit to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for the duration of the three-month program. In exchange, companies get a $25,000 stipend, mentorship in everything from finance to distribution, and access to the broader dairy industry. The 2018 program just wrapped at the end of November. Those interested in 2019 can sign up to get updates here.
Alltech’s Pearse Lyons Accelerator
If you’re an agtech startup, there are still a few days left to apply for this one.
Alltech makes animal nutrition products and supplements, with an emphasis on reducing environmental impact. The Pearse Lyons program caters to late-stage startups across the agricultural industry. The program takes place over 90 days in Dublin, Ireland, and will be hosted by European startup hub Dogpatch Labs.
Chosen startups get €15,000 (~$17,160 USD), as well as access to mentorship and networking activities and the chance to pitch to agtech leaders at the ONE: Alltech Ideas Conference. You can watch some of the past pitches here, including ones from AI-powered insect farming company Entocycle and indoor-farming company Agrilyst.
The 2019 program kicks off in February. Applications close on December 31.
Coca-Cola’s Venturing & Emerging Brands (VEB) Program
VEB is more a business unit within the Coke family than it is a contained program with start and stop dates. Coke invests in emerging beverage brands on a case-by-case basis, typically those looking to solve a future consumer need or want in the beverage arena. Companies should have already reached proof-of-concept stage when they apply.
VEB has invested in very few soda brands so far, not surprising, given the ongoing decline of overall soda sales. Instead, you’ll find lactose-free milks, Illy espresso, protein shakes, and tea drinks in its current arsenal of emerging companies. My guess is that eventually we’ll start to see plant-based drinks, like nut or pea milk, on there as well.
Interested companies can fill out an online form to receive more information about applying.
PepsiCo’s Nutrition Greenhouse North America
PepsiCo made news in early December when it announced 10 startups selected for the first North American edition of its Nutrition Greenhouse accelerator.
The inaugural North American edition follows a highly successful European program, which wrapped about a year ago. Chosen participants get $20,000 in grant funding and take part in a six-month “business optimization program” that includes one-on-one mentorship with PepsiCo executives (including those from brands within the Pepsi family, like Quaker, Naked, and Stacy’s). Applications just closed for this one, so those interested in the next North American program or the European edition should check back here for updates.
Companies include Bohana, who makes high protein snacks from water lily seeds, plant-based beverage company Remedy Organics, and Sophie’s Kitchen, who makes plant-based seafood. Which underscores another trend we’ll likely see more of in the near future: major CPG’s getting involved in the creation and production of plant-based products. Stay tuned for much more on that over the next year.
Did we miss any foodtech or agtech accelerators? Shout them out in the comments, or let us know on Twitter @TheSpoonTech!