Campbell has made some early stage investments in startups, but
believes "a more strategic and methodical approach" is needed, she
The move comes as Ms. Morrison continues to update Campbell's
portfolio to respond to a variety of "seismic shifts," she
discussed Wednesday, which include everything from economic
concerns such as the declining American middle class to the growing
diversity of younger consumers, the rising use of digital
technology and consumers' desire for healthier and fresher
Even as the company has been updating its product lineup, it
expects its sales this fiscal year to be down 1% to flat. Still,
that would be an improvement from a 2% decline in fiscal 2015 which
stemmed in part from having one less week than fiscal 2014.
The company now gets 34% of sales from its iconic soup, down
from 40% in 2011, the year Ms. Morrison became its CEO. It has
added brands such as Bolthouse Farms, Plum Organics and Garden
Fresh Gourmet to diversify its lineup, which already included
products such as Pepperidge Farm, Prego and V8.
Soup is still the biggest part of the portfolio at 34% of sales
in 2015, followed by cookies and other snacks at 31%, simple meals
at 21% and beverages at 14%.
"Listen, if you apply the Andy Warhol filter to our company, if
you view us strictly through the lens of the iconic can, then
you're completely missing the big picture," Ms. Morrison said.
Other consumer packaged-goods marketers have made similar moves
in funding and looking for emerging companies, from Unilever's
Project Foundry to Procter & Gamble's Connect & Develop.
301 INC is a unit within General Mills that
works on partnerships with emerging food brands. General Mills has
already acquired jerky maker Epic. Mobile Futures is the name of
Mondelez International's effort that began in 2012 to accelerate
mobile innovations and incubate new ventures. It was followed last
year by Shopper Futures, which is working on shaking up the
consumer retail experience.
Campbell said Acre Venture Partners, a Delaware limited
partnership, will be independent and managed by outside partners.
However, a Campbell subsidiary will be the sole limited partner in
Acre Ventures. Also, Jeff Dunn, president of Campbell Fresh, will
be on Acre's investment committee representing Campbell, the
An earlier version of this story inaccurately said General
Mills was an investor in jerky maker Epic. The company had
discussions with Epic, but was not an early investor.