Dive Awards 2020 & Girl Scout Cookies 2021: CPG News, Week of Dec 7-11

by Veronica Drake

7 Minutes



New Products & Partnerships

Girl Scouts of the USA is releasing a new vegan cookie offering, Toast-Yay, a cinnamon and icing cookie inspired by french toast that will be available for the 2021 cookie season.

Danone USA is teaming up with Full Harvest, an online marketplace for imperfect foods, to create a line of yogurts that uses would-be fruit waste as flavoring, starting with a Meyer lemon variety and more flavors to come next year. 

General Mills has announced the launch of 16 new cereals that will be available this winter, including keto and dairy-free options as well as some new innovations, including a cereal version of the recently-resurrected Dunkaroos cookie that was reintroduced earlier this year.

After heightened demand for immune-boosting products amid the pandemic, Chobani is rolling out a line of probiotic yogurts that hopes to bring the microorganisms to young consumers that want to include them in their diet but may not know how. While it isn’t the company’s first foray into the probiotic sector, it is their most publicized, and aims to introduce more shoppers to the yogurt category. 


Funding & Acquisitions

Post Holdings will acquire Peter Pan Peanut Butter from Conagra Brands for an undisclosed amount, it was announced this week. 

Indoor produce grower Gotham Greens has raised $87 million, including a recently closed Series D, with plans to use the funds to increase its output and introduce new products to a wider range of consumers.

Brynwood Partners announced it will purchase Arytza’s take-and-bake pizza business for an undisclosed amount through its portfolio company Great Kitchens Food Company.

After an extremely successful year, DoorDash sold shares in its IPO at $102 per, pricing above its range.


Dive Awards 2020

After one of the most challenging years the CPG world has seen, the Dive Awards have named some of the top leaders and companies in the industry.

Dylan Lissette, CEO of Utz, was named Executive of the Year, bringing his company through its IPO and multiple acquisitions, making it one of the most exciting years the company has seen. "It's like the little engine that could — just continuously keep trudging along, battling it out, working really hard, growing our sales, growing our share, coming up with new ideas, marketing them, branding them, and just doing it with these sort of ultimate goals that over time, as a pure play salty snack company, we'll just continue to move up the metrics of market share, of relevance, of scale and that we hope will sort of ignite a flywheel," Lissette said of the brand’s 2020 journey.

Impossible Foods CFO David Lee was named Innovator of the Year, coming after a year of highs for the brand including partnerships with Disney, Burger King, and Starbucks (among others), expansion into four international markets, its start of Series G funding, and multiple new product launches. "Finance executives in 2021 can demonstrate their strategic planning better during turbulent times by operating with rigor, while, at the same time, not being afraid to fund major growth initiatives," Lee said. "For us, that has meant staying laser focused on our core market, the meat eater, and supporting our foodservice business while at the same time dramatically scaling our retail business and our investment in long-term R&D," 

Meanwhile, Impossible Foods also took the crown for Innovator of the Year on the brand side, setting an example for other companies of how to switch business strategies to fit unexpected situations, with retail presence increasing 77-times-over in 2020. After an explosion of popularity for the plant-based industry as a whole, Lee predicts it’s just the beginning for the company, saying, "Our technology has demonstrated that though we'll get larger, we'll have a greater and greater ability to grow faster. Everything from the fact that scale gives us a lower cost of goods sold, and our technology was designed to use far fewer input ingredients. From the incumbent industry that's made from the animal to the acceptance by more and more on the inevitability that a better version of meat, in our case made entirely from plants, is the future." 

Mondelez was named Company of the Year, benefiting greatly from its portfolio of brands that have been around for over a century, becoming staple products for many households. E-commerce sales skyrocketed in the beginning of the year as shoppers stocked up on their most trusted brands, and Mondelez has been laying the groundwork for years prior to continue its growth into other sectors through its acquisitions. Its bond with customers yielded it an impressive third quarter that showed growth despite supply chain hiccups at the start of the pandemic, positioning it for a sustained period of success into 2021.

Grocery chain H-E-B is Grocer of the Year, and set the gold standard for preparation through its methods to ready itself for the oncoming wave of Covid-19 to the US. It began tracking the virus in January and reached out to retailers and suppliers in Europe and China to understand how it was affecting them, and what the US was in for. Implementing safety practices including social distancing and making sure to keep core departments like meat and produce stocked, it was braced for impact when the pandemic was declared and was able to maintain some level of control in a chaotic time. It continued to get creative when it needed to, which enabled it to offer permanent wage increases and bonuses to workers while other chains were forced to lay employees off, making it somewhat of an industry legend in the era of Covid-19. 


Supplying Kindness

A high school in a small Texas town has created an in-school grocery store where good deeds are as good as cash. The student-led project is meant to help peers whose families are struggling during the pandemic, with 43% of the district’s students considered “economically disadvantaged”. Points are automatically given to students and their families based on how many members there are, with the opportunity to earn extra through good grades, acts of kindness, or completing jobs around the school. It operates three days a week for students and school employees, and is open for one hour each week to the public. "We are a small school district but we always try to teach our kids the importance of giving back to the community," says school principal Anthony Love. "Now school districts all around Texas and the rest of the country are asking how they can start a program like ours, and it's really exciting for us to know our little town is spreading good."


Certifying Plant-Based and Vegan

Foodchain ID is noting the varied views between terms like “plant-based” and “vegan”, recently launching separate certification programs to distinguish between the two. While consumers tend to associate plant-based foods with making a healthier lifestyle choice, the term vegan denotes a sense of serious commitment and deprivation in the name of a cause, particularly animal rights. 

The new standards will differ slightly in the restrictiveness of animal products. Both will prohibit the use of any animal-derived ingredient in either the final product or the production process, but the term vegan goes a step further in certifying that there was absolutely no animal testing for any ingredient, input, or processing aid. They align on one particularly relevant point as alternative meat sources rapidly develop, which is their exclusion of products that contain GMOs. This would leave Impossible Meat, a brand that has seen a boom in popularity this year and become a poster child for non meat-meat, unable to meet the certification requirements to be called vegan or plant-based. 

Meanwhile, future “next gen” animal proteins that are developed without animals are also on the horizon, and despite being not derived from animals, their use of genetic engineering would also disqualify them from Foodchain ID’s certifications. The company clarified, “To be clear, we do not believe Non-GMO is healthier or more sustainable. We are neutral on the topic and are simply responding to consumer - and thus our customers’ - demand and yes, perception.” 


Good Reads

Category Management in 2021: An Action Plan Retailers Can Execute Now by Daryl Wehmeyer, Progressive Grocer

CPG portfolio reshaping will accelerate in 2021, analysts predict by Jessi Devenyns, Food Dive

Plant-Based Meats Are on the Rise. But Are They Sustainable? by Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Mother Jones

About Unioncrate

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