Things are moving fast in the food industry. Startup disruptors can no longer be ignored. In every industry facing disruption, we can see “tipping points” (theorised by Malcolm Gladwell) where the incumbents’ perception of the disruptors first switch from ignorance to annoyance and then fear. Incumbents try to resist these waves by reacting. First using legal means and when it’s not enough by building products and services that look like the ones they are trying to face. We can see this scenario being played in the booking and bank industries.
But now it is happening in front of us in the food industry. A few years ago, Just Mayo was sued for the use of the word “mayo” by Unilever (hint: bad idea, the big brand lost and helped the small one to win recognition). The same thing is happening right now when cattlemen push to ban the use of the word “meat” for plant-based foods (France, US).
We have seen an interesting example of the “next step” this week. As you see in our (homemade) collage, Archer Farms (private label from Target) has taken a lot of “inspiration” from Halo Top. Halo Top has grown really fast with its high protein, low calories ice-creams (fast enough for Unilever to be rumoured to have considered a 2 billion dollar acquisition). Target version is taking on the startup most distinctive features: visibility given to the calories (a low number of them) and use of fun and distinctive flavours.
This is just an example. However, we are seeing a lot of retailers and food corporates taking this reaction attitude position lately. This may be just a coincidence, but we may also just be on the verge of the food industry disruption
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GrubMarket, which sources organic and healthy food directly from producers, raised $32M to « grow its profitable business ». With 70% of its business in the B2B space and big customers like WholeFoods or HelloFresh, the startup is “already” profitable.
Toast is raising 114 million dollars at a 1.4 billion valuation. The startup is originally a POS (point of sale) solution. It now aims to become the “one stop shop” tool for restaurants, helping them with partners and other tools to manage orders, hiring issues, etc.
MealKits are under Amazon pressure. The giant is shaking the meal kit industry and these companies respond by changing their business models. They now deal with big retailers, mixing online & offline strategies. They also incorporate stars into their strategies like Tom Brady (something we talked about a few weeks ago). And, of course, there are more consumer-centric than ever by offering “tons of” different diet options.
A comprehensive classification of alternatives to meat, written by a vegan going from level 0 (just be vegan) to level 5 (fake meat looking and tasting like meat) and level 6 (a post-meat future). This step by step approach is interesting to see where we are and remaining barriers.