Campbell Soup sets up $125M venture capital fund for food startups

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On Wednesday, Denise Morrison CEO of Campbell Soup Co. revealed that the company had committed $125 million to new venture capital fund, with the goal of investing in startups that are transforming the food industry from farms to home delivery.

Morrison revealed the VC fund called Acre Venture Partners, saying the giant wants to aggressively participate in the “disruption” in food trends.

The company seeks to be more involved in venture capital funding targeted at the food industry that has seen an influx of venture capital funds since 2010 where about 400 startups have received no less than $6 billion in venture-capital funding.

Campbell’s fund, Acre Venture Partners L.P., will be independent of Campbell and managed by unidentified outsiders, though Campbell is its sole limited partner, the company said. A Campbell subsidiary will be the sole limited partner, and Jeff Dunn, head of Campbell’s fresh-food division, which includes Bolthouse Farms juices and Garden Fresh salsa, will be Campbell’s representative on the investment committee.

In an interview, Ms. Morrison said Acre is a new model for innovation to help the 145-year-old soup-and-snacks company keep pace with what she calls a seismic shift taking place in the food industry. U.S. food makers are under pressure to come out with new products faster in light of the quickly changing eating habits of consumers.

Campbell is joining a small number of big food-and-beverage companies that are trying to jump into the startup world. Coca-Cola Co. and General Mills Inc., for example, fund their own venture-capital programs internally.

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