, at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference, Campbell Soup announced that it is launching a $125 million venture capital fund—Acre Venture Partners—to invest in food startups. “We believe that defining the future of real food requires new approaches, new business models, smart external development, and an ecosystem of innovative partners,” said CEO Denise Morrison during the company’s presentation at the conference.
Unlike General Mills’ venture capital arm 301 INC, which is managed internally, Campbell’s fund will be handled by outside partners independent of the company. Morrison estimated that since 2010, about 400 startups have received more than $6 billion in funding from traditional venture capital investors and “big food” rivals. This movement stems from a variety of seismic shifts, which include economic concerns such as the declining American middle class, the growing diversity of younger consumers, the rising use of digital technology, and consumers’ desire for healthier and fresher fare.