SnackFutures recently launched CoLab, a new start-up engagement program to create healthy snacks that are delicious and good for the planet.
The innovation and venture hub of snack company Mondelēz International, SnackFutures was launched in 2018 to create and invest in snacks brands that promote wellbeing. Their new program, CoLab, is designed to invest in novel food startups based in the United States.
Up to 10 businesses will be selected for the program. These companies will receive a US$20,000 grant to build their brand and will participate in a 12-week program that includes mentorship, workshops, and access to leaders and partners of Mondelēz International.
From this application process, CoLab hopes to identify snacks that take a holistic approach to wellbeing that encompasses planetary and human health.
Brigette Wolf, Global Head of SnackFutures believes that startups are well-positioned to work in this way because they can build sustainable practices into their operations from the beginning. Wolf says that for companies like Mondelēz, this is the only way forward.
“By doing good, you get good,” Wolf tells Food Tank, “and it’s non-negotiable at this point.”
SnackFutures is already seeing the potential of startups with the success of other brands that they are collaborating with, including Dirt Kitchen and CaPao. Dirt Kitchen creates snacks from excess fruits and vegetables, reducing food waste.
CaPao, on the other hand, focuses on upcycling, or using ingredients that would otherwise not go toward human consumption. The company rescues the parts of cacao fruit that aren’t used for chocolate, which are usually discarded, to create their products.
In addition to their environmental benefits, Wolf also points out that these are snacks that consumers can feel good about eating.
CoLab is launching at a time when consumers are taking a greater interest in ethical snacking. According to the management consultancy firm Accenture, more than 45 percent of consumers are looking to make more sustainable choices in response to COVID-19. And 60 percent of respondents are shopping with health in mind.
To support its program participants, CoLab’s curriculum will teach companies everything they need to run their business, from operations to branding and packaging. They also strive to create a collaborative environment that inspires innovation.
“One of the key principles of SnackFutures is to operate in a culture of collaboration, what we believe will make CoLab a productive experience for everyone involved,” says Jackie Haney, CoLab Program Lead.
Wolf believes that program participants will gain a great deal by working alongside one another. And, she says, Mondelēz and SnackFutures hope to learn as much from the startups as the startups learn from them. “Each side has a lot of value to offer the other, whether it’s in experience or in insights.”
Applications for CoLab are now open and the program is set to begin in June 2021. Those interested in applying can do so here.
Watch the full conversation with Brigette Wolf below: