Selling sugary beverages remains a tough slog for PepsiCo, so why not try selling smoothie bowls, vegan-friendly drinks and non-alcoholic wines?
Don’t be surprised to see such products in the company’s European and sub-Saharan stable in the next few years, after PepsiCo has tapped startups making those cutting-edge items in its Nutrition Greenhouse incubator. It’s the second year of the program, which is designed to discover and nurture breakthrough brands in the food and beverage sector.
Last year’s winner, UK-based start-up Erbology, was awarded the final €100,000 grant to develop its nutrient-rich, plant-based products, such as oils, shots, crackers and energy balls, after it achieved more than 400% growth during the six-month Nutrition Greenhouse program.
PepsiCo has been diversifying furiously under CEO Indra Nooyi in recent years and ranks as a leader among global CPG giants in its efforts to engage innovative startups and entrepreneurs with accelerator and incubator programs, searching for innovations, talent and sparks for growth.
Now in its second year, PepsiCo selects startup brands and products that some day could rival its own—or, by benefiting from early cooperation with the U.S.-headquartered food and beverage titan, could provide PepsiCo with early access to innovations that are reshaping the food-and-beverage business worldwide.
“The nutrition greenhouse incubator is an important initiative for PepsiCo,” stated David Schwartz, PepsiCo Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa director of innovation.
Among the ten companies chosen for the 2018 Nutrition Greenhouse program—each of which will receive a €20,000 grant, and access to PepsiCo mentors and experts—are A1C Foods, an Israeli outfit that produces low-carb chocolates and ice creams without artificial sweeteners; Cryo, a French company that makes organic snacks with alternative proteins such as algae; Welldrinks, a Bulgarian company that makes Qwell, which combines hydrolized collagen with vitamins and minerals for a healthy hydration drink; and Rokit Pods, a UK-baed maker of vegan-friendly drink capsules for popular coffee machines.
The company that demonstrates the most scalable and sustainable market approach by the end of the program of coaching and instruction will get a €100,000 prize so that it can continue its expansion, PepsiCo explained.
“Last year’s class of finalists (above) really provide their potential, so we can’t wait to see how we can help deliver a step change for the industry with our 2018 class,” Schwartz said.
The full list of 10 brands that could become global powerhouses with guidance from PepsiCo:
—A1C Foods (Israel) – Low-carbohydrate food products, such as chocolate and ice cream, using a formula designed to lower the glycemic index without use of artificial sweeteners.
—Agrasys (Spain) – The company behind Tritordeum – a Mediterranean cereal made from a combination of durum wheat and a wild barley, with nutritional and agronomic benefits that is suitable for a wide range of cereal-based foods and beverages.
—Gryö (France) – Organic snacks made with alternative proteins – including algae and plant-based proteins.
—Le Petit Béret (France) – Non-alcoholic wine produced without fermentation, preservatives or sulphites.
—Nibble Protein (UK) – High-protein, gluten- and dairy-free bites made with less sugar. Suitable for vegan and diabetic diets.
—Revolicious (UK) – Ready-to-eat dairy- and gluten-free smoothie bowls, made with a 100% natural ingredient base of coconut milk, banana and flax seeds.
—Rokit Pods (UK) – Organic, vegan-friendly drinks capsules compatible with a range of well-known coffee machines.
—The Sprouted Grain Company (Israel) – Easy-to-digest whole grains, legumes, flours, nuts and seeds, with a long shelf life.
—Welldrinks (Bulgaria) – Creates Qwell, a new brand of functional beverages, made by combining hydrolysed collagen with vitamins and minerals for healthier hydration.
—Yofix (Israel) – Clean-label vegan and soy-free fermented dairy alternatives.