This morning, CPG giant Mars unveiled the six startups participating in the company’s first-ever cohort for its Seeds of Change accelerator program, which helps early-stage companies with health- and sustainability-focused offerings hit their next phase of growth.
As a consumer-focused brand, Seeds of Change has been in operation since 1989, initially selling organic seeds to farmers and gardeners before launching a food line in the late 1990s.
Participants were selected this past weekend, when 10 finalists from the application pool headed to Chicago and presented their companies and ideas to a panel of judges. Each will receive a grant of $50,000 and participate in a four-month-long program that includes curriculum and mentorship sessions designed to help startups scale up their operations.
For this first cohort, the program looks to be focused mainly on ingredient innovation:
Fora produces non-dairy butter and is on track to release other yet-to-be-named plant-based dairy alternatives.
Prommus makes a protein-enhanced hummus, and also runs a program that provides meals to school children in food-insecure parts of the world
Brooklyn Delhi makes India-inspired condiments and sauces.
Tru Made Foods turns condiments like BBQ sauce and Sriracha into superfoods by replacing sugar with vegetables
NoBull Burger makes plant-based burgers.
Oxtale sells starter packs that let consumers cook traditional Asian meals in under 30 minutes.
The six companies chosen over the weekend were selected for Seeds of Change’s U.S.-based program. The company also runs an Australia-based version of the accelerator, for which applications just closed.
Mars, at this point, is better known for candy and pet foods than it is for sustainable eating. But like a growing number of major CPGs out there, the company is looking to double-down on food innovation by partnering with younger, leaner companies, and also align more with the growing consumer demand for things like health, transparency, and sustainability. Dairy Farmers of America, who works with some of the world’s largest food producers, has a new(ish) accelerator program that’s been getting attention as of late, and numerous other CPGs, from Kraft-Heinz to Nestle to BSH run programs.