Campbell Soup Co. helped create and bankroll a venture capital fund to invest in startup food companies, President/CEO Denise Morrison revealed at a meeting of financial analysts today (Feb. 17).
Campbell will be the lone limited partner in Acre Venture Partners LP, although it will be managed independently of the big food company. Campbell allocated $125 million to the fund, which will invest in small start-up food companies – an emerging trend among big food & beverage companies – especially ones that are developing truly novel products.
Morrison noted some 400 startups in the food industry have received about $6 billion in venture-capital funding since 2010. Campbell has not been active, except for an investment in Juicero, a startup developing a new technology for juicing fruits and vegetables.
General Mills last fall unveiled 301 Inc., with a similar mission, and Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo also have invested in startups.
Campbell's representative to the fund will be Jeff Dunn, who heads Campbell Fresh, itself a new division that includes Bolthouse Farms, refrigerated soups and the recent acquisition Garden Fresh Gourmet.