Tesco’s new incubator program heavily features plant-based companies30 Oct 2020
Tesco is in its fourth year of hosting an incubator program for startup consumer packaged brands, and this year, the cohort features a substantial list of plant-based brands that will receive institutional support from the supermarket chain and its panel of experts.
The new cohort of incubator brands includes plant-based meat alternative brand THIS, all-natural condiment manufacturer Dr Will’s, and vegan-friendly confectionery brand, Buttermilk. This year’s list is rounded out by the ethical fem-care brand TOTM, frozen bakery dough brand the Northern Dough Co, craft beer brand Salt, and natural skincare brand Yes To. Additionally, these new participants in the incubator program will be joined by Mara Seaweed, Simply Cook, and Rascal and Friends, which have already participated in the program.
Each of these brands will receive a year of support from the British supermarket chain’s incubator program, which involves learning from events run by Tesco’s Product Team with the intent of helping with the development of each brand as well as advice on merchandising products more effectively. In addition to the learning events, the brands will build strong relationships with Tesco’s Product teams to help inform the growth of these startups.
Several notable alumni have come out of Tesco’s incubator program, including Fever Tree, Brewdog and Deliciously Ella, demonstrating that the program has been able to jumpstart fledgling food and beverage brands to convert them into well-known names on supermarket shelves.
“Our incubator program enables us to partner with some of the most exciting up-and-coming brands, who are at the very forefront of consumer trends including plant-based innovation and sustainability,” said Ashwin Prasad, Tesco’s Chief Product Officer in a statement.
Sustainability and plant-based are two trends that have driven a substantial amount of product innovation in recent years. Part of this proliferation of innovation within the category is attributable to the influx of investment in the space. Not only are these brands receiving institutional guidance from incubator programs similar to Tesco’s, but old-fashioned financial investment in the space has ballooned. Over the last 10 years, the Good Food Institute tracked that investors have allocated $16 billion into U.S. plant- and cell-based protein firms. Nearly $13 billion dollars of that sum arrived between 2017 and 2018.
Such a focus on plant-based from investors parallels the demand from consumers. A recent study from DuPont Nutrition & Health found that 52% of U.S. consumers are eating more plant-based foods and they believe it makes them feel healthier. With signs pointing to the continued growth of plant-based brands, it will be no surprise if larger companies continue to support and grow these nascent lines - doing so offers the opportunity to test the popularity of a product and then strategically integrate them into a portfolio.
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