- Mondelez will collaborate with Israeli-based food-tech incubator the Kitchen through its SnackFutures team, according to a company statement.
- In exchange for access to Israel’s only food incubator and its ecosystem, Mondelez will share its technological and commercial expertise with the entrepreneurs — as well as provide an opportunity to work in the company’s global technical centers in food safety, R&D, marketing and operations.
- Since SnackFutures, Mondelez’s innovation and venture hub, began operations last year, it has also partnered with The Hatchery Chicago and made two minority stake investments in up-and-coming brands.
Mondelez, best known for indulgences like Oreos, has struggled to produce sales growth in the U.S. in recent years as demand for better-for-you foods has increased. Last year, it created the SnackFutures innovation and venture hub to cultivate and develop the future of snacking. Brigette Wolf, global head of the program, told Food Dive earlier this year the goal is to raise $100 million in revenue by 2022.
Despite Mondelez arriving a little late to the incubator and VC investment party, the company is making up for lost time. Since the establishment of its SnackFutures investment arm in the fall of 2018, Mondelez has partnered with Chicago’s The Hatchery, taken a minority investment in Uplift Foods and invested in clean-label brand Hu.
Up until now, Mondelez's investments have seemed focused on reinvigorating its stagnant North American sector. The stated goal of SnackFutures is to unlock snacking growth opportunities worldwide, and it now looks like the company is searching across borders. Although Mondelez is a United States-based company that was spun off from Kraft Heinz's megamerger in 2012, 73.5% of its 2018 reported net revenues came from outside its home country's borders. As such, it would have been surprising if it didn’t reach out and collaborate with some international food tech networks.
This partnership gives Rob Hargrove, Mondelez’s EVP of global research, development and quality, a seat on The Kitchen's advisory board, which could potentially allow him to influence the future direction of the incubator as it continues to evolve and focus on addressing global food challenges.
Out of the 12 companies in the Israeli incubator, only two could be considered snack foods: Yofix, a non-dairy probiotic drink and Better Juice, a reduced natural sugar fruit juice. The rest are technologies and experimental concepts focused on developing better sensors to detect food safety and quality, extend shelf life, improve ingredients, and products with health benefits, nutritional profiles and reduced environmental footprints.
Although not directly focusing on snacks, Mondelez’s investment in these technologies makes sense. SnackFutures investments are heavy on functional ingredients and product stories, two things that these Israeli-based companies have in spades.
Much like their previous investments, this new collaboration speaks to today's conscious consumer. While Mondelez can help accelerate growth in these companies, their founders can also help reinvigorate the snacking giant's stable of legacy products through technological advancement and improvements to their already existing portfolio. After all, that seems to be the end game for SnackFutures. As Tim Cofer, Mondelez's executive vice president and chief growth officer, said in a release that SnackFutures is looking to test new ideas that will disrupt the industry.