Australian early-stage start-up Uplift Food has secured investment from Mondelēz International to help the food giant expand into prebiotic functional foods and grow its healthy snacking offer.
This is the first venture investment the company is making as part of SnackFutures, the company’s innovation and venture hub aimed at unlocking snacking growth opportunities around the world. The program was launched in the US but will seek out disruptive start-ups across the globe that align with its goals.
A key pillar of the company’s consumer-centric growth strategy, SnackFutures is designed as an independent hub that brings three core tenets of growth under one umbrella to accelerate innovation: invention of new brands and businesses; reinvention of small-scale brands with large-scale potential, and venture investments with start-up entrepreneurs.
“As the global snacking leader, we’re on a clear mission to lead the future of snacking by providing the right snack, for the right moment, made the right way,” said Tim Cofer, Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer of Mondelēz International. “Together with Uplift Food, we have a unique opportunity to disrupt the functional food category by delivering ‘snackable’ products focusing on gut health – something that does not exist today.”
Functional snacking is a strategic area for SnackFutures as consumers are increasingly looking for their snacks to deliver benefits but options are currently limited. The SnackFutures team will work with Uplift Food to make gut health more understandable, accessible, and enjoyable through new forms and flavours. Beyond the financial investment, SnackFutures will also provide strategic support in areas like marketing, distribution, R&D and sourcing.
“Partnering with SnackFutures will undeniably strengthen Uplift Food’s capacity to live our mission of seeing everyone benefit from the consumption of gut healthy foods. The SnackFutures team provides the industry experience needed to make our dream a reality, and the continued support they show us to hold onto our nutritional and ingredient integrity allows us to remain true to our core values and grow,” said Kara Landau, Dietitian and Founder Uplift Food.
After winning the Naturally Good Pitch Fest last year, Ms Landau was accepted into the US Food-X accelerator event, where she met the Mondelēz innovation team.
“We just clicked straight away – it was like love at first sight and its been a beautiful relationship ever since. Usually people say when you work with a multinational you need a sponsor to support you. I feel like I have about 10,” she told What’s New in Healthy Products. Mondelēz came on as investor when Ms Landau opened her seed funding round.
“Uplift Food was most likely slightly earlier stage than they would have expected to work with, but the fit was too well aligned to miss the opportunity,” Ms Landau said.
“Some people can be stubborn about involving investors at such an early stage – but where I’m stubborn is about wanting Uplift Food to take on a life of its own.
“This is not just about money. My mission is to get more prebiotics in people’s stomachs and this will fast-track me by about 10 years. You do get nervous about bringing on a strategic investor, it really is about trust and you have to believe you’re bringing something to their portfolio. The team at Mondelēz do really feel like partners.”