Since 2015, top food corporates have launched investment vehicles to fund early-stage food and beverage startups.
Since mid-2015, leading food corporates have given new attention to food & beverage startups with the launch of a variety of investment vehicles. General Mills led this new wave of funds when it announced in October 2015 that its in-house business unit 301 Inc. would transform into a venture arm focused on backing early-stage startups.
Using CB Insights data, we analyzed General Mills’ 301 Inc. and three other newly launched corporate food venture funds from Campbell Soup, Kellogg’s, and Tyson and created a timeline mapping out their activity over time. Scroll down to see a table of all the deals pictured in the graphic.
Click to enlarge. Only each investor’s first investment into each startup is displayed. The timeline only includes investments made by venture funds, and excludes investments and acquisitions made directly by the parent corporations during the same period.
When General Mills launched 301 Inc. in late 2015, the fund’s general manager cited plant protein, non-dairy foods, and probiotics as emerging trends, and 301 Inc. has followed through by investing in startups that fit within these categories, including vegetable snack startup Rhythm Superfoods and probiotic food and drink startup Farmhouse Culture.
In February 2016, Campbell Soup poured $125M into a new VC fund, Acre Venture Partners, which would be managed externally but feature Campbell Soup as the sole LP. In contrast to 301 Inc.’s product focus, Acre Venture Partners has so far invested in startups dealing with supply chain technology, such as food waste management startup Spoiler Alert and farm management platform Farmer’s Business Network.
Just a few months after Acre Ventures launched, in June 2016, Kellogg’s announced it would invest $100M in a new venture fund, eighteen94 Capital, which would be managed by Kellogg’s executives in partnership with Touchdown Ventures. The fund announced its first (and only, so far) investment in January 2017, into Kuli Kuli, a startup making snacks and drinks based on the moringa plant.
Finally, in December 2016, Tyson Foods launched venture fund Tyson New Ventures LLC, backed by $150M with the goals of investing in alternative proteins, reducing food waste, and improving supply chain efficiency. It has made just one investment to date, acquiring 5% ownership in plant protein startup Beyond Meat (which is also backed by 301 Inc.).
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|Fund||Parent Corporation||Launch Date||Portfolio Companies|
|301 Inc.||General Mills||October 2015||Purely Elizabeth, Farmhouse Culture, D’s Naturals, Rhythm Superfoods, Good Culture, Kite Hill, Tio Gazpacho, Beyond Meat|
|Acre Venture Partners||Campbell Soup||February 2016||Evolve BioSystems, The Safe + Fair Food Company, Farmers Business Network, Spoiler Alert, Sample6 Technologies, Back to the Roots, Juicero|
|Eighteen94 Capital||Kellogg’s||June 2016||Kuli Kuli|
|Tyson New Ventures||Tyson Foods||December 2016||Beyond Meat|