My last name has lead to a variety of interactions over the years, ranging from questions about my relationship to the classic soup maker (spoiler alert: nope, not related) to the gifting of a Andy Warhol-inspired Campbell's Soup tie from my friend's mother in grade school. Truth be told, I'm a Progresso soup guy at heart, but I do find the latest news from Campbell's to be pretty exciting.
According to the company, Campbell's will launch a $125 million venture capital fund to invest in food startups. CEO Denise Morrison said that the fund, called Acre Venture Partners, will help the soup giant participate in the "disruption" in food trends. She went on to say:
“We believe that defining the future of real food requires new approaches, new business models, smart external development and an ecosystem of innovative partners."
This is not the company's first foray into the space. Previously, Campbell's purchased Bolthouse Farms' juice business for $1.6 billion, and spent nearly $231 million for salsa maker Garden Fresh Gourmet. Clearly, the company understands the importance of finding new brands that connect with consumers that are looking for more natural, organic and better for you foods and snacks, and this demand is all-encompassing, from ingredient sourcing to food coloring and even to workplace practices.
That's not to say that Campbell's is the only big food company looking to find innovative and disruptive brands ahead of the competition. Morrison herself estimated that about 400 startups received more than $6 billion in funding, including a fund launched by General Mills in October 2015.
Who knows? Perhaps one of the emerging brands picked up by Campbell's new fund will replace Progresso soup on my table. Only time will tell.