10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2016

10 Key Trends 2016 Report Cover

Which are the real GROWTH trends in food and health?

The ones that will still matter 5 years from now?

Our annual trend survey, now in its 20th year, gives you the answers.

    Read more
Recent Case Studies Danone to take control of global non-dairy market? One thing that you can be sure of is this: if everything goes to plan, the marketing of almond and other nut milks that compete with dairy milk will be getting a major marketing boost from 2017 in every market in which Danone operates. read more Diverse portfolios fast becoming the new normal A few years ago it would have been impossible to imagine. In fact, Kellogg couldn’t imagine it – and so repeated the mistake that many other large corporates have made over the years, paying the price in hundreds of millions of dollars of lost sales. read more Kite Hill aims to make premium plant-based range fly Kite Hill is trying to take cheese and yoghurt and, using plant proteins and cultures, reinvent them as plant-based foods. General Mills has invested millions of dollars in Kite Hill in the belief that the startup really has successful prospects in this difficult segment. read more Kashi claws back sales Finally re-established in its California home and reorganised under more autonomous management, Kashi is attempting to re-establish its credentials as a progressive food brand – and hoping sales will increase again as a result. read more “Super clean” drinks target underserved niches E-hydrate is gaining traction in three of the most mature, most crowded categories in the better-for-you beverage business, with all-natural ingredients and innovations in packaging, segmentation and marketing. read more Simply keeping on growing Coca-Cola owned Simply Juice has managed to freshen its portfolio with a line of “all-natural” mixed-juice drinks that took off to become one of the hottest-selling new-product lines last year. read more Simple protein powers snack sales jump With the success of Oscar Mayer P3 Portable Protein Packs, Kraft Heinz has created a most unusual achievement: a hit product that is fielded by a major food processor and yet is popular because of its simplicity rather than for its accomplishments in food engineering. read more Honey water targets bee health A startup named Just Bee found a “white space” in the UK market for fruit-flavoured waters and filled it with Just Bee, a line of three drinks which is sweetened exclusively with honey. read more
Big food’s need to nurture will make start-ups succeed

Big food’s need to nurture will make start-ups succeed

There’s an idea that many people have that “big food” – as the much-reviled large food companies of the world are often called – can’t manage and grow small entrepreneurial brands, and can’t respond fast enough to consumers’ desires for products that are natural and organic.

As one online new source put it: “Big US food groups are struggling to adapt”. However, as is often the case with popular wisdoms, this one isn’t exactly true.

In fact, in today’s viciously competitive supermarkets, start-ups without partnerships with entrepreneurially-minded big food groups might just disappear.

The relationship between organic food pioneer Annie’s Homegrown and General Mills shows just what’s possible when David and Goliath co-operate and gives a clue as to what might happen next now that dairy giant Danone has taken a 40% stake in Michel et Augustin, the best-known small entrepreneurial brand in France.

General Mills – the world’s 10th-biggest food company, with sales of $12.5 billion (€11 billion) – acquired Annie’s in 2014. Since then Annie’s has expanded far beyond its earlier constraints, growing to nearly $300 million (€265 million) a year in sales from about $200 million (€177 million) when General Mills bought the company in late 2014.

Annies – beloved by parents for its organic kids foods – is showing its new owners how to formulate better-for-you products, how to tap into enthusiastic consumer bases around organic foods, and is providing the larger company with a new growth engine.

General Mills has got Annie’s into new outlets such as schools and is enabling Annie’s to win more customers by extending its trusted brand to other segments beyond its core of macaroni and cheese and kids’ crackers. Annie’s has used the extra resource to double its number of new product launches.

“We got a lot of blowback from customers when the announcement came out that we’d sold,” Annie’s CEO John Foraker told New Nutrition Business.

“There were 20,000 posts on Facebook about it very quickly, and 99% of them were negative. It was less about hating GM and more about loving our brand and not wanting it to change. Once we were able to tell our story and reassure everyone that we were very much committed to our values—that we were going to stay in Berkeley [California] and most of the same people would continue to run Annie’s—the fear died down and we haven’t seen a negative impact on our business.

“And if anything, we’re bringing a larger number of Annie’s consumers into the fold.”

Foraker said that General Mills has stuck to its promises to let Annie’s run itself without compromise. “We haven’t been asked to compromise once on our products, what we stand for, what we message about—for example, we continue to be strong advocates for GMO labeling, and General Mills hasn’t tried to silence that at all,” he said.

For the parent company, Foraker added, acquiring Annie’s—to add to its lineup of organic brands that also includes Larabar, Cascadian Farms and a handful of others—“was a pretty significant signal that the company understands there have been really big shifts in consumers, and as a consumer-first organisation, they wanted to lead with consumers where they’re going.

“Also we bring a different culture—faster, more entrepreneurial, more willing to take risks.” Annie’s is helping General Mills with acquisitions of other better-for-you startups, such as the very recently purchased Epic Provisions, which makes meat bars (see NNB February 2016).

Foraker has stayed as president of his company since the acquisition and now also is in charge of General Mills’ “center of excellence” for organic and natural foods.

“We’re taking the best practices and our knowledge of the industry and how to stay relevant across channels and apply those best practices at [General Mills] brands and leveraging those across operating units to drive growth,” Foraker told New Nutrition Business.

Putting Epic, the meat-bar startup, under Annie’s and Foraker is another way that General Mills is capitalising on its ownership of Annie’s. “It’s a good example of a big company identifying a real cool brand that can do lots of cool stuff but which is very small,” he said.

“They want to incubate it and build it out like we did Annie’s. So they put it under us because we know how to operate brands like that. They see the opportunity to leverage best practices and acquire growth assets earlier in their development. It’s a big transition.”

Read more on the blog

Julian Mellentin

Latest Editions

New Nutrition Business
Kids Nutrition Report
NNB August 2016 Issue 57 2016

Bestselling Reports

Failures in Functional Foods and Beverages

Read more

Redefining Healthy Snacking

Read more

Latest Edition of NNB

The Latest edition edition is currently available online

close this frame

Latest Edition of Kids Nutrition Report

Issue 57 2016 is currently available online

Visit the Kids Nutrition Report website