Funding & Acquisitions
After taking a majority stake of Hu in 2019, Mondelez has announced it will acquire the rest of the chocolate bar maker in a deal valuing the brand at $340 million.
Manufacturer FONA will be acquired by McCormick & Company Inc. for $710 million, it was announced this week.
Allergy-friendly brand Partake Foods recently closed a $4.8 million Series A, with several celebrity investors including Rihanna, H.E.R., and Jay-Z.
New Wave Foods announced an $18 million Series A, the latest animal product alternative to garner significant attention as the popularity of plant-based options grows.
ADM Ventures and GV are among the investors that led a $32 million funding round for Air Protein. The startup uses a fermentation method that creates a meat alternative from the components in air, a highly sustainable process that draws from 1960s-era NASA research to enable astronauts to create food from carbon dioxide.
It has been reported that alternative dairy brand Oatly will launch an IPO in 2021 that could raise up to $1 billion.
Jimmy’s Cookies will acquire artisan bread brand Ecce Panis from Campbell Soup Co., upping production capacity for the gourmet cookie brand and allowing for product expansion.
New Products & Partnerships
Unilever has announced the debut of 25 new ice cream product innovations across six of its brands, including Breyers and Klondike.
PepsiCo released a new permanent flavor in their Mountain Dew range, Major Melon, marking the brand’s first addition in more than a decade.
Tyson Inc., parent company of Jimmy Dean, has added two new plant-based varieties to the breakfast sandwich brand’s portfolio, the first meat alternative options it has offered.
Clean hair care brand Briogeo will launch in Ulta Beauty this month, joining the retailer’s Conscious Beauty at Ulta Beauty Initiative.
Ithaca Hummus has announced its take on a classic game day favorite: buffalo ranch hummus. Aside from the new permanent flavor, the brand will also offer consumers a limited edition Buffalo Ranch Game Day Kit to help celebrate the Superbowl and provide a meat-free alternative for everyone, no matter which team you’re cheering for.
milkadamia, producer of macadamia dairy products, is adding two varieties of macadamia nut cooking oil to its lineup, the brand announced this week.
International Delight will offer two limited edition creamer flavors to celebrate the 50th anniversary of PEBBLES cereal. Coming in Fruity PEBBLES and Cocoa PEBBLES varieties, the creamers will be available nationwide for a limited time.
Labeling for Earth
While food labels have been designed to tell consumers how good (or bad) a product is for them, some are now calling for brands to disclose a product’s impact on another important living thing: the planet. Last year Swedish food brand Felix created a pop-up store for two days in Sweden that determined a product’s price based on its carbon footprint; those with a higher environmental impact were more expensive, while more sustainable choices were cheaper. The experiment was meant to show customers that it’s simple to make environmentally-sound choices when grocery shopping, and consumers have caught on: two-thirds of shoppers surveyed in the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK by the Carbon Trust responded that they are in favor of carbon labeling on food and beverage products, although it has yet to be made a legal requirement by any government.
While the call to include this information is getting louder, determining a food’s carbon footprint is still an unstandardized and unclear process. To help, researchers at a Swedish University have created CarbonCloud, a web platform that allows companies to input certain information, like a product’s ingredients, its waste production, and how it’s shipped, into software that then uses it to determine its climate impact. Brands like Oatly have already begun using this technology to have a better understanding of the environmental effects its production process has, and can also get an idea of how those effects differ with certain changes, like a different supplier or the use of renewable energy. While this practice is still catching on, many are hopeful that it will become commonplace on food labels soon. “In the future, hopefully we will see a common ground for how we calculate and how we label products," says Felix’s marketing manager, Thomas Sjöberg. "But as for right now, the climate can't wait."
UK-based charity Veganuary, which helps promote a pledge from consumers to eat animal product-free each year in January, has said it expects up to 500,000 people worldwide to participate this year, an all-time high for the vegan movement. 2020 saw an influx of interest from consumers in plant-based eating, leading to a surge in sales for animal product-alternative brands last year and increased interest from consumers in incorporating vegan products into their everyday eating, even if they do not follow an exclusively vegan diet. Nielsen reported a 129% year-over-year increase in plant-based meat sales in the first nine months of 2020, after years of steady growth in many plant-based sectors.
While Veganuary certainly draws attention to veganism and nurtures the release of plant-based products each year (the charity says 1,200 new vegan products were launched for Veganuary 2020), one study found that more than 60% of adults do not plan to eat exclusively plant-based in 2021. Instead, many are adopting a flexitarian lifestyle, encouraging themselves to up their non-animal product consumption because of its health and environmental benefits while not limiting themselves to strict veganism or vegetarianism.
In another step to reach price parity with traditional animal-based meat products, Impossible Foods has cut its prices to food distributors by 15%, following a 15% drop last March that the company announced was part of its plan to make its products cost the same as conventional meat, and then undercut its prices. After a wildly successful 2020 which included $700 million in funding and the release of several new product lines for the company, it’s beginning its year with a push towards achieving the goal it set for its original business sector: food service.
While the pandemic did impact the restaurant side of the brand’s sales due to closures and lower consumer spending, Impossible’s plan to dominate the meat sector has not changed. The latest price drop brings the plant-based meat to distributors for as low as $6.80 per pound, significantly higher than the average price of ground beef, but a considerable savings compared to historical alternative meat costs. The move also certifies Impossible’s faith that the restaurant industry will bounce back despite continued pandemic-related challenges. While eating out saw a drop in popularity last year, this price reduction shows encouraging hope that consumers will be back at tables sooner rather than later and will be hungry for plant-based options.
Double Dinner Dunch
After months of lockdown and a building feeling of “pandemic fatigue”, Americans are embracing lavish takeout meals and the blurring of lines between lunch and dinner. In the latest food trend reported by Grub Street, consumers have taken to participating in what they call “double dinner”, or the consumption of two types of cuisine at once. The strategy acts as the perfect way to treat yourself to the “cashmere sweatpants” of dinners, allowing diners to travel vicariously through their meals and experience new and exotic foods while also supporting multiple local restaurants at once.
“Dunch” has also been on the rise, a lunch-dinner hybrid that falls somewhere in late afternoon or early evening, a direct result of a loss of rigidity in schedules due to working from home and early curfews. Executive chef Brandon Boudet has seen it first hand in his LA restaurant, and notes that it can be a helpful way for restaurants to break even while having to limit capacity and hours.
Both trends represent an interesting evolution in America’s food culture that has stemmed from the pandemic’s forced shifts in eating habits and food preparation. As Covid-19 vaccines roll out and life inches back towards normal, restaurants and consumers alike will have to wait and see what remains of these food fads and adapt to fit what will become the new normal.
Twelve Post-Pandemic Supply-Chain Trends for 2021 by Scott Sureddin, Supply Chain Brain
Churning Out Millions: How The Founder Of Miyoko's Creamery Put Vegan Butter On The Map by Chloe Sorvino, Forbes
5 trends fueling food and beverage innovation in 2021 by Lillianna Byington, Food Dive
The end of the Series A: While tech financing booms, DTC brands face a new reality by Cale Guthrie Weissman, Modern Retail