Kraft Heinz is going after small organic food brands just as Whole Foods abandons them

  • Kraft Heinz is launching Springboard Brands, a business focused on finding and growing organic, natural, and "super-premium" food brands.
  • The company says consumers are increasingly searching for certified-organic foods that are locally sourced and plant-based.
  • Kraft Heinz is appealing to emerging natural and organic brands at a time when some of these companies are feeling abandoned by Whole Foods, which has long been a key launching pad for new players in the industry.

Kraft Heinz wants to become a launching pad for organic, natural, and "super-premium" food brands.

The company said Wednesday that it's launching a new business, called Springboard Brands, dedicated to finding and growing these brands, which it says will "shape the next generation of food."

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"We are committed to support and partner with teams that will impact the future of our industry,"
Sergio Eleuterio, general manager of Springboard Brands, said in a statement. "We are actively searching for emergent, authentic brands that can expand into new categories, and are looking to build a network of founders to help shape the future of foods and beverages."

Kraft Heinz is appealing to emerging natural and organic brands at a time when some of these companies are feeling abandoned by Whole Foods. Whole Foods has long been a key launching pad for new players in the industry, but some suppliers say that's no longer the case due to new fees and policies that one vendor referred to as "abuse" in an interview with Business Insider.

Springboard will focus on four "pillars" that it says will influence the future of food: natural and organic, specialty and craft, health and performance, and experiential brands.

The natural and organic products it's looking for might fit the following descriptions: "certified organic, plant-based proteins, locally sourced, farm-to-table," and "nutrient-dense superfoods," Springboard says on its website.

It describes "specialty and craft" goods as "super-premium, expertly-crafted products, often made using traditional methods and artisan techniques."

Health and performance products are described as "superfoods packed with antioxidants or that support digestive health with pre- and probiotics."

Kraft Heinz is kicking off Springboard with an incubator program that will bring select emerging brands to Chicago for a 16-week "sprint" dedicated to helping them grow their businesses.

The company is inviting US brands to apply for the program on a rolling basis through April 5 if they meet the company's criteria, as outlined by their four "pillars," and have generated less than $10 million in sales.

Brands that are sent to Chicago could get financial support from Kraft Heinz and receive guidance to raise additional funding, the company said.

"The incubator’s infrastructure will provide program participants with a collaborative work environment and invaluable business resources including dedicated workspace, state-of- the-art pilot plants and commercial kitchens at Kraft Heinz Innovation Center in Glenview, Illinois," the company said. "Each participant will have the opportunity to learn from The Kraft Heinz Company’s world-class management practices, global operating scale, and extensive food safety and quality capabilities."

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SEE ALSO: 'We can only take so much abuse': Whole Foods suppliers slam 'hellacious' new policies and say rising costs are hurting business

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