Accelerating innovation: Kraft Heinz backs five “next-generation” disruptive brands, healthy snacking dominates

Accelerating innovation: Kraft Heinz backs five “next-generation” disruptive brands, healthy snacking dominates

07 Mar 2019 --- Kraft Heinz has selected the second cohort of disruptive start-ups to take part in the Incubator Program class operated by the company’s Springboard platform. The second Incubator class includes Blake’s Seed Based, BRAMI, Ka-Pop! Ancient inGRAINed Snack Co, Origin Almond and Tiny Giants.

The second batch of firms all fall within one of four pillars that are shaping the future of the food and beverage space, according to Kraft Heinz. These are Natural & Organic, Specialty & Craft, Health & Performance and Experiential brands. Over the course of the next four months, the selected startups will participate in a program composed of learning, funding, infrastructure access, and mentorship in Chicago, US.

Dedicated to nurturing, scaling and accelerating the growth of innovative US brands within the food and beverage space, Springboard works with entrepreneurial businesses with new ideas that tap into key consumer trends and hold the potential of being the next generation of brands. 

Click to EnlargeOrigin Almond Founder and CEO, Jake DeleonOriginally launched by Kraft Heinz in 2016, Springboard is now in its third year and is seeking new opportunities to develop brands with “authentic propositions and inspired founders.” 

Who are the start-ups? 
Origin Almond uses cold-press technology to extract the liquid essence of almonds. This cold-pressed almond juice offers the fresh and lightly sweetened taste of premium fruit juices minus the excess sugar and carbohydrates. Each flavor contains as low as one gram of sugar per bottle and is infused with a “rainbow of superfoods and adaptogens to provide added functional benefits.”

Speaking with FoodIngredientsFirst, Origin Almond Founder and CEO, Jake Deleon says: “Since we first launched our Minimum viable product (MVP) we’ve applied several iterations on concept, packaging and formulation based mostly on qualitative consumer feedback and intuition. For example, we’re offering a unique, first-to-market concept of an ‘almond juice’ which we found required multiple tweaks to recipe and packaging to better educate consumers and manage their taste expectations when first experiencing the product.”

“We hope to leverage Springboard’s/Kraft Heinz multifunctional expertise and robust data towards further improving our product and proposition with a more solid backing.”

“The reduction of excess sugar is evergreen as more consumers are understanding the benefits of lessening sugars in their diet and becoming aware of the ‘hidden’ sugars found in perceived healthy foods like fruit juice. As more consumers seek lower sugar beverage options, it opens a wide door of opportunity for our unique, low-sugar almond juice platform.”

Blake’s Seed Based Founder, Blake Sorensen, grew up with a life threatening nut allergy and was frustrated with the lack of allergen-free snack options on the market. He began to make bars in his kitchen, using seeds instead of nuts.Click to Enlarge

“We are ecstatic to be a part of the Springboard Incubator. It’s an incredible opportunity. We are treating this program as if we are getting our food MBA over the next 16 weeks and look forward to utilizing all of the resources Kraft Heinz has to offer,” Sorensen tells FoodIngredientsFirst. “We’ll be able to learn from key members of the Kraft Heinz team to accelerate our growth. They have incredible resources that are invaluable for food startups like ours. We’re especially excited to work with their different business units including marketing, R&D and distribution.”

“We are seeing a gigantic shift in what consumers want. The awareness and trends around plant-based protein and Top 8 allergen-free snacks put us in a great position to bring value to consumers through our offerings. The Springboard Incubator will help us capitalize on our mission,” he adds. 

Click to EnlargeCEO and Founder at Ka-Pop! Ancient inGRAINed Snack Co, Dustin Finkel, also created his own snacking range packed with protein, fiber, omega 3s, potassium and vitamins.

“Our team put everything we could into the [Springboard] application process and it feels incredibly rewarding to see that hard work and dedication pay off. Our mission is to bring authenticity, simplicity, and fun back into snacking. We believe the partnership with Kraft Heinz can provide significant resources to help us accomplish our goals,” he tells FoodIngredientsFirst

“As a start-up, we have a long runway of opportunities and have no doubt that even more will arise as we familiarize ourselves with the teams at Kraft Heinz. The Springboard program is dedicated to supporting its brands and we intend to take full advantage,”Finkel says. “It’s absolutely clear that plant-based snacking and simplicity are growing the overall food category. We expect that trend to continue. We also expect to see significant growth in ancient grains as they provide incredible nutrition, without the modification, hybridization and other mutations of modern grains,” he adds.

In their Brooklyn test-kitchen, BRAMI reimagined lupini beans. BRAMI beans contain high levels of plant protein and fiber with a fraction of the calories, carbohydrates, fat and sugar of other snacks. Marinated and packaged fresh out of the pickling barrel, BRAMI offers one of the few shelf-stable snacks that is not baked, dried or fried, and something totally differentiated to the growing functional snack category, according to the company. Click to Enlarge

Tiny Giants Foods creates a sustainable plant-based snack brand for “future-forward children and parents.” Its first product is a plant-based yogurt that is certified organic and non-GMO with no added sweeteners.

Moving forward
Kelly Reinke, Springboard Incubator Lead highlighted  “an incredibly competitive group of applicants.” “All five companies in our second Incubator class offer delicious products that cater to the better-for-you offerings consumers are demanding,” she says. “Springboard exists to help shape the future of food, and we are confident our next class does just that.”

The third incubator class is open now until June 14 for the autumn program which will take place August 5 through November 22.

Innovation will be key to turning the fortunes of Kraft Heinz, following a string of negative headlines. Last month, the troubled company saw its own shares plummet by almost 20 percent last month, after the US food giant posted quarterly losses and revealed it was being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in February. This comes amid the difficult and challenging environment for the packaged food industry as consumer preference steers further away from traditional products and shift to healthier alternatives. 

By Gaynor Selby

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