Kraft Heinz Launches Incubator for 'Disruptive' Food Brands

Springboard seeks to nurture products in growing categories

Kraft Heinz is casting a line for emerging and disruptive food brands that it said would “help shape the future of food and beverage.”

The company on Wednesday announced the formation of a platform dedicated to nurturing, scaling and accelerating growth of new brands, called Springboard. Officials said the Springboard platform is seeking opportunities to develop brands with “authentic propositions and inspired founders” with products in the natural and organic, specialty and craft, health and performance, and “experiential” categories.

Founders will be encouraged to continue leading their businesses with support and expertise from Kraft Heinz in go-to-market capabilities, research and development, and consumer insights, the company said.

For Kraft Heinz, the move comes after having largely completed the integration of its namesake companies, which merged in 2015. CEO Bernardo Vieira Hees in a conference call last month laid out the case for Kraft Heinz—a company with eight different $1 billion brands in its portfolio—to tap into emerging brands that may lack size, but are vital to future growth.

“In many ways, size matters relatively less than it used to, versus skill and speed,” he said. “For instance, new product success is less likely to be defined as much by reaching the $100 million mark. Instead, success is more likely to reflect the ability to move quickly, reinvest savings in brand building and make innovation a priority.”


Sergio Eleuterio

Springboard is headed by Sergio Eleuterio, a veteran brand marketer whose most recent role with Kraft Heinz was to establish its newly launched Devour line of frozen meals. Devour is one of Kraft’s existing brands that will also see accelerated growth efforts under Springboard. Others include the Boca line of meat alternatives, as well as a new take on the iconic gelatin called Jell-O Play (“Free play was becoming a lost art, until everyone’s favorite delicious, wobbly treat transformed the way families experience food,” the Springboard website says).

“We are committed to support and partner with teams that will impact the future of our industry,” Eleuterio said in a statement. “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.”

In connection with its establishment, Springboard is launching a 16-week incubator program, focused on nurturing food and beverage startups at a pre-valuation stage, Kraft Heinz said.

Springboard is accepting applications for “first-to-market, disruptive food and beverage startups” through April 5.

Companies selected to participate 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 the Kraft Heinz Innovation Center in Glenview, Ill.


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