Campbell Soup Company has announced its intention to invest in food startups with a $125 million venture capital fund called Acre Venture Partners. The company joins several other Big Food companies that have gone this route, with an estimated over $6 billion total invested by such companies in food startups since 2010.
Campbell Soup Company CEO Denise Morrison explained Campbell’s motivations, saying, “We believe that defining the future of real food requires new approaches, new business models, smart external development and an ecosystem of innovative partners.”
This across-the-board move is most certainly linked to the increased desire amongst American consumers for transparency when it comes to food; Fortune reports that this change has led to increased distrust of legacy brands such as Campbell. The Wall Street Journal reported that this move is Campbell’s way of keeping up with the “seismic shift” taking place in the food industry.
“New business models are emerging at every step of the value chain, from farming and agriculture through food home delivery,” Morrison said. “There is a massive influx of venture capital aimed at disrupting the food eco system – flowing from traditional venture capital firms and from funds managed by companies.”
The development of the venture capital fund is in line with recent announcements from the food giant, including a decision to label its food containing GMOs accordingly and to drop artificial ingredients from its products. Campbell Soup Company also recently acquired two smaller food companies -- Bolthouse Farms juice business for $1.55 billion and of salsa and dip maker Garden Fresh Gourmet for $231 million -- to diversify its offerings. The company recently announced the launch of new V8 Veggie Blends and new varieties of Goldfish crackers made from organic wheat to continue to cater to the new generation of buyers.
The venture capital fund will be managed independently, though Campbell Soup Company will remain the sole limited partner. General Mills, which launched a venture capital fund last year, has taken a different approach, managing its venture capital fund internally.
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