Kraft Heinz keeps moving to reinvent itself for an era in which traditional CPG brands are finding their businesses and their markets turned upside down.
The company has launched Springboard Brands, a unit dedicated to nurturing, scaling and accelerating growth of disruptive US brands in foods and beverages. Fast on the heels of hatching a brand-new category with Just Crack an Egg, the multi-brand, multi-category processed-food conglomerate has refreshed Boca Burger line as one of Springboard’s first brand-focused projects.
Many consumer packaged goods giants have launched efforts to tap into startups, their ideas and talent, both to create and nurture fast-growth opportunities through investments in startups as well as to carry over an entrepreneurial approach to their existing brands through accelerators. Unilever and Land O’ Lakes are among the many CPG titans that have done so.
For Kraft Heinz, the goal of Springboard is “to develop brands with authentic propositions and inspired founders” in four areas—natural and organic, specialty and craft, health and performance, and experiential.
Kraft Heinz will support its startup partners with marketing, R&D and research help while the founders stay aboard.
“We are committed to support and partner with teams that will impact the future of our industry,” said Springboard Brands GM Sergio Eleuterio in a press release. “We are actively searching for emergent, authentic brands that can expand into new categories, and are looking to build a network of founders to help shape the future of foods and beverages.”
Springboard is accepting applications through April 5th for its incubator program, which will be focused on nurturing food and beverage startups at a pre-valuation stage in a dynamic 16-week sprint in Chicago. It’s seeking purpose-driven, distinctive, first-to-market, disruptive food and beverage startups — which it also describes as “high voltage, challenger brands with authentic propositions and inspired founders.”
Startups selected to participate in the Springboard Incubator Program will have the opportunity to receive financial support to build brands and guidance to raise additional funding.
The incubator’s infrastructure will provide program participants with a collaborative work environment and invaluable business resources including dedicated workspace, state-of-the-art pilot plants and commercial kitchens at Kraft Heinz Innovation Center in Glenview, Illinois.
Each participant will have the opportunity to learn from The Kraft Heinz Company’s world-class management practices, global operating scale, and extensive food safety and quality capabilities.
Springboard also aims to refresh and accelerate existing brands within Kraft Heinz’s existing portfolio in need of repositioning, updating or innovation in order to unlock their growth.
Looking to its own brands, Kraft Heinz selected Boca Burger as one of the first projects for Springboard to refresh and relaunch.
The vegetarian Boca Burger, along with Morningstar Farms, is one of the original soy-based veggie burger brands, but Kraft Heinz saw it had lost luster and needed to be reinvented to take advantage of the recent plant-based foods movement that has sprung many new brands, including faux meat competitors such as Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat.
The renewed and improved Boca Burger is enhancing its taste and texture while rolling out bold, eye-catching new packaging to appeal to the millennial flexitarian cohort, and will expand its line-up to introduce new products such as chickpea-based falafel bites.
“The future of this market is in the middle, is what the industry calls ‘flexitarians,'” Eleuterio said at the recent Natural Products Expo West in California. “People who buy Boca also buy meat.”
Anticipating the needs of flexitarians and other contemporary consumers by surprising and delighting them with new products and fresh twists on existing products should make Springboard a key growth driver for Kraft Heinz, and a model to watch for the industry.