Big Food is Fostering Innovation

Large corporations have been noticing how consumers have been favoring products made by independent startup food companies, since a good chunk of those provide craft, high-quality, niche, and, a lot of times, healthier products.

Needless to say, big food wants in. Especially, since this specialty food segment has a tremendous growth potential.

So, how is big food seeking innovation?

Companies like Campbell Soup, Chobani, Kellogg, Kraft Heinz, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Tyson Foods are creating innovation centers and/or partnering with existing incubators to help niche brands grow and flourish.


Pepsico’s new center for innovation is called “The Hive.”

According to Food Dive, “this incubator will be a separate entrepreneurial group outside of the core headquarters that will help nurture niche products already in the portfolio,” like for example Stubborn Soda.

As Foodable has reported in the past, PepsiCo also partnered with a Chicago-based, food and beverage incubator, The Hatchery, in order to look at other startup brands that have the potential of becoming a possible venture for the beverage giant.

Tyson Foods

Earlier this year, Tyson Foods announced that it will be working with two incubators—Plug and Play and 1871—linking the food giant to innovation hailing from Silicon Valley and Chicago.

That’s not the first time Tyson showed it’s commitment for innovation. In fact, the company launched a venture capital fund in late 2016 “to invest in companies developing breakthrough technologies, business models and products to sustainably feed the growing world population,” according to the company website.

Since then, Tyson has invested in brands like for example Beyond Meat, that promote sustainability and others that promote the internet of food, like FoodLogiq.

Tyson is spearheading innovation through its own brand, ¡Yappah!, which aims to fight food waste by utilizing “forgotten” ingredients like rescued vegetable puree and spent grain to make protein crisps, and investments in companies like Future Meat Technologies, an Israel-based “biotechnology company aiming to transform global meat production through distributive manufacturing of fat and muscle cells, increasing food safety and reducing ecological impact worldwide,” as stated in the company’s website.


Chobani is another company looking to foster innovation through its Food Tech Residency. The company set out specific challenges in the food and agriculture value chain they would like to tackle (like food waste, food safety, water conservation, logistics, etc.) and invites like-minded, early-stage tech and agriculture startups to apply for funding.

Currently, the brand is hosting it’s fourth incubator class, since it launched the program in 2016, with companies developing products like tea, hummus and allergen-free baking ingredients. Alongside the food startups, two tech companies will be participating in Chobani’s inaugural Tech Residency Program—CinderBio and Skyven Technologies.

Watch the video above to learn more and stay tuned to other Industry Pulse episodes to keep up with all the innovation happening around your business! To learn about other consumer trends involving sustainability like plant-based meals, watch the video below:

After Campbell's CEO Steps Out from Advisory Panel, Trump Dismantles Boards Altogether

President Donald Trump has been lead to shut down two of his business advisory councils (Strategy & Policy Forum and Manufacturing Jobs Initiative) which were created to help generate jobs, cut down taxes and get rid of regulations preventing economic growth. This happened after executives from major corporations felt compelled to break ties with the controversial administration.

Trump Tweeted:

Trump’s failure to denounce the violent white supremacist rally in Virginia, where a 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 others were injured by a driver who rammed a car into a crowd of demonstrators, forced many leaders to rethink their relationship with POTUS. After backlash, business leaders, like Campbell Soup Company CEO Denise Morrison, decided to step back and disassociate the companies they represent with the White House.

Morrison said in a statement, minutes before Trump scrapped the advisory boards:

"Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville.  I believe the President should have been – and still needs to be – unambiguous on that point.

Following yesterday’s remarks from the President, I cannot remain on the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. I will continue to support all efforts to spur economic growth and advocate for the values that have always made America great."

Other business leaders, like PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, were also being pressured to #QuitTheCouncil through online campaigns by Color of Change, a nonprofit racial-justice group.

Rashad Robinson, executive director of the group, told Bloomberg:

"We let Pepsi know about 24 hours ago that we would be moving forward on them,” Robinson said in an interview on Tuesday [August 15th]. “They are a public-facing company that talks openly about diversity. Their role on this business council is that of an enabler, and they are an enabler to Donald Trump -- not just the policies but the practices that are putting folks in harm’s way."

In response to the unfortunate events from the "Unite The Right" rally, Nooyi tweeted:

As reported by Recode, the following prominent leaders had left the business councils before they were dismantled by Trump:

  • Brian Krzanich — CEO, Intel Corporation
  • Ken Frazier — CEO, Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Kevin Plank — Founder, CEO, chairman, Under Armour
  • Elon Musk — Founder and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla
  • Bob Iger — CEO of Disney
  • Travis Kalanick — Now-former CEO of Uber
  • Scott Paul — President, Alliance for American Manufacturing
  • Richard Trumka — President, AFL-CIO
  • Inge Thulin — Chairman, president, CEO, 3M