PepsiCo’s North American incubator programme awards top spot to upcycling snack startup
The female-owned company makes sweet potato puff snacks that are certified non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free and free to the Top 8 Allergens.
It also uses ‘ugly’ produce for its snacks in the fight to reduce food waste. According to the California-based startup, over 150 million pounds of imperfect sweet potatoes end up on landfill each year because they are deemed imperfect due to minor flaws like size, shape and colour.
In February – as the pandemic started to change the retail landscape – the incubator nominated 10 emerging F&B startups to embark on a six-month business programme to scale up their businesses.
The programme covers aspects like marketing, distribution, manufacturing, supply chain and packaging, among others. Obviously due to COVID-19 restrictions, the programme had switch to a virtual format and an essential element for the participants was tackling ecommerce.
To date, the snack and soft drinks giant has mentored fast-growing brands like Bare Snacks, KeVita and Stacy’s.
Collectively, the 10 North American participants this year were able to grow their average revenues more than 240% over the course of the programme. However, it was Spudsy that stood out above all, based on its business results during a challenging environment, overall engagement in the programme and strong brand purpose.
Save the spud
The company’s ‘Save the Spud’ mission helps reduce food waste by upcycling imperfect sweet potatoes to create its sweet potato flour.
Daniel Grubbs, VP of Pepsico Ventures Group, said Spudsy not only had shown tremendous growth in a few short months, but importantly was able to continue to build a strong purpose-driven brand.
“We look forward to seeing what they do with the $100,000 grant,” he said, adding, “We are so proud of all of the finalists in this year’s Greenhouse programme who persevered during a time that has forced companies big and small to rethink and adjust their business strategies.”
Spudy’s founder Ashley Rogers praised the mentor for supporting the subscription business and helping with an overall strategy for expansion.
“They also helped us navigate the changing consumer landscape during a tricky time. We’re ecstatic to be able to use the $100,000 grant to continue to grow our internal team and support our key retailers,” she added.
PepsiCo first launched its Greenhouse programme in Europe in 2017 and expanded it to North America a year later, awarding Texas-based Hapi Drinks – a sugar-free kids drinks company founded with the mission to fight childhood obesity – as the winning brand of the first annual incubator programme.
Spudsy Sweet Potato Snacks are available in five flavours – Vegan Sour Cream & Onion, Cinnamon Churro, Vegan Cheesy Cheddar, Vegan Buffalo Ranch and Bangin’ Bar-B-Q – from retailers across the US and Amazon.