Plants, Pecans, and Partnerships: CPG News, Week of Sep 21-25

by Veronica Drake

3 Minutes



New Products Reach Outer Space

Starbucks is testing Miyoko’s Creamery vegan cream cheese at one Washington location, offering two exclusive flavors, Everything and Cinnamon Raisin. As Starbucks strives to increase its sustainability, it is making moves to transition to plant-based alternatives to animal products, which are responsible for 21% of the company’s carbon footprint. 

Rxbar has debuted a new pecan bar, a limited-edition offering that provides a healthier twist on pecan pie. The bar is the latest in the Kellogg-owned brand’s line and follows the release of its highest protein layered bar earlier this year. 

Plant-based upstart Gardein has launched a line of vegan canned soups featuring plant-based meat, the first of its kind according to the company. They are available in stores now and come in five varieties, signaling growing popularity for meat alternatives. 

Way ahead of the curve, Ana Holdings and cosmetic manufacturer Pola Orbis Holdings are partnering to develop a space-friendly cosmetics line. As space tourism becomes more and more of a possibility, the two companies want to make sure they’re on the cutting edge of it, hoping to have the line ready by 2023. 

Celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic is launching his own makeup brand, set to be released in Sephora on October 1. Makeup by Mario will come out with a range of eye products (palettes, primer, e.g.) at first, and will expand from there.

Vegan Zeastar, a Dutch brand, is launching a plant-based cod alternative that will launch first in restaurants in the Netherlands before moving to the UK as well. 

Bolthouse Farms is bringing oat-based vegan dressing to stores this fall, with four varieties that will launch in major supermarkets across the country. 


Investments & Acquisitions

Plant-based chicken startup Daring Foods closed an $8 million Series A.

Laird Superfood went public this week with a valuation of $184.3 million. The health superfoods brand previously received $10 million from Danone Manifesto Ventures and was spurred on by their high performance during the pandemic and confidence in their business model to go public. 

Waste-free grocery delivery service Zero Grocery announced $3 million in seed funding. 

Meat snack manufacturer Vermont Smoke and Cure has been obtained by Johnsonville LLC

Bottled soup brand Re:Nourish will expand its brand footprint using a "seven-figure" investment they recently secured. Founder Nicci Clark described it as a “huge milestone for the business and I very much see this as an opportunity to further grow and disrupt the category.” 

Sera Labs, a leading health, wellness, and beauty brand marketing and distribution platform, is being acquired by CURE Pharmaceutical, with the transaction set to close in October.


The CPG Community Comes Together 

Three CPG veterans are partnering to launch Project Potluck, a program that seeks to encourage people of color in the CPG community to assist each other in building their brands. Ibraheem Basir, of A Dozen Cousins, Ayesha Abuelhiga, of Mason Dixie, and Arnulfo Ventura, of Beanfields, connected in June at a digital event for BIPOC and came together to actualize the idea Basir had been working on since March. 

There will be three components to the group, including a mentorship program, monthly community events, and a digital space on LinkedIn for members to stay connected. The organization will focus on creating a network of CPG individuals who can foster a sense of community together and help each other by sharing their experiences. It will also include a yearlong mentorship program where mentors will offer advice on all aspects of running a CPG brand. 


Brand Changes For Good

The classic instant rice brand previously known as Uncle Ben’s is changing to Ben’s Original, parent company Mars Food announced. This move follows calls for many major brands to take another look at their marketing for certain products that could be considered racially insensitive. In the wake of protests for racial equality that have been seen across the country this year, this is the first food branding change and “shows it may not take dramatic measures to make a big difference,” writes Megan Poinski for Food Dive.

Seven out of 10 consumers consider product packaging to be important, according to a study by Shorr Packaging, while two-thirds of consumers who said they changed their shopping habits during the pandemic are paying more attention to the labels and packaging of the products they purchase. Packaging has become especially important during Covid-19 as consumers increasingly try new products and look to the packaging to tell them about the ingredients, claims, and other pertinent information. 64% of consumers feel that they have been misled by packaging in the past, and are interested in seeing labels, logos, and claims information that can be trusted to accurately inform them about the products they’re buying.

Certain emerging terms are still being defined, like “natural,” which currently has no set definition but is influential to more than 40% of consumers when it appears on packaging. As trends evolve to favor packaging that clearly displays important information about the products, brands are responding and making an effort to offer the claims that consumers are most interested in, making them more favorable against their competitors. 


Costco Stays Inside

As curbside pickup becomes more common, there is one major retailer that you won’t find offering that service: Costco. Despite the uptick in popularity of simply ordering groceries online and picking them up, Costco says it doesn’t have the space to pull it off, and wants to encourage customers to come inside and make impulse purchases. 10.1 million more households used curbside pickup in August 2020 than August 2019, and Costco competitors like Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club began offering it during the pandemic to meet the demand.

However, Costco would need to change their stores’ setups to accommodate the necessary space for preparing online orders and bringing them outside, so for now it will continue its practice of only offering pickup for more expensive items, like electronics and jewelry, which it introduced in 2018. Still, customers can order through Instacart for same day grocery delivery from Costco, and the chain offers its own two-day delivery on dry items that ship from business centers across the country. 


CPG Marketing in the Era of Covid-19

The pandemic has boosted search marketing, with digital spend from CPG industries expected to grow 5.2% this year. While television marketing used to be the preferred method, digital marketing has grown in the wake of Covid-19, with companies turning to performance-oriented direct-response ads. CPG’s share of the digital ad market will also grow 14.4% this year, but as the market returns to normal next year that number is expected to return to normal as well. These changes come as part of a wave of shifts in the CPG industry, with consumers rapidly changing their behaviors and making it necessary for brands to be ready to adjust their strategies to fit and meet consumers where they are (on their phones).


Consumer Demand & The Holiday Season 

Target has released its plans for 2020’s holiday shopping experience, with an emphasis on hiring enough workers to handle the large volume of online orders that are expected to come in. During the first half of the fiscal year, 10 million new customers shopped Target’s website while demand for same-day delivery went up 4x. Twice as many newly hired employees will be dedicated to contactless services this year, and Target’s distribution centers will also be bringing on more workers to keep up with inventory. In addition, there will be team members that ensure safety measures are being implemented and the stores are kept clean, a necessary part of any in-store experience during the pandemic.  


Good Reads

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