From a women-owned VC to frozen dough: General Mills’ makes substantial investments to support the next wave of innovations

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Big G is making substantial investments to support the growth of frozen dough, along with backing in a Latino female-led VC that, itself, has invested in fast-growing black women-owned Partake Foods.
Big G is making substantial investments to support the growth of frozen dough, along with backing in a Latino female-led VC that, itself, has invested in fast-growing black women-owned Partake Foods.

Related tags General mills 301 Inc Venture capital frozen dough Foodservice women of colour

The Pillsbury maker is making a significant investment in its frozen dough plant in Joplin, Missouri, to meet increased demand for product innovation from foodservice customers, while its venture arm 301 Inc was among the raft of investors to support Supply Change Capital, which it claims, represents the future of food and the venture industry.

Supply Change Capital is female and Latina-owned, a rarity in the world of venture capital. According to Pitchbook, just 16.1% of VC decisionmakers are female, while only 2% of venture capitalists are Latina/Latino.

The firm - which has offices in Los Angeles and Chicago - recently closed its $40m inaugural fund, amassing interest from 301 Inc,​ MassMutual, the Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Asset Management, among others.

“As a leading investment firm in early-stage food and agriculture technology companies, Supply Change Capital has a pulse on the cultural, demographic and sustainability shifts needed to usher in the next wave of groundbreaking innovations for our industry,” ​said Johnny Tran, MD of 301 Inc.

Since June 2021, the VC has deployed over $13m across 15 early-stage companies in the deep tech, agri, ingredient, supply chain and enterprise software sectors, including the fast-growing black, woman-owned allergy-friendly brand Partake Foods.

“From our intersectional set of investors to our robust portfolio, we’ve seated a venture firm platform that can endure and thrive,”​ said Noramay Cadena, founder and managing partner of Supply Chain Capital.

“Ultimately, each LP, founder and stakeholder in our community understands the same thing we do: we are on the precipice of a transformative change at the intersection of food, culture and technology. With 40 years of combined operating and investing experience, we’ll be the team leading investments through this evolution to a more inclusive and sustainable food system.”

Evolving landscape

Supply Change Capital is led by industry veterans Noramay Cadena and Shayna Harris.

With 80% of its portfolio currently led by Latino, Black, women and other underrepresented founders, the company’s believes its ethos resonates with the evolving demographics and changing consumer behaviour of the marketplace.

“Supply Change Capital invests in the technologies that underpin a more resilient food system. We invest through the lens of climate and culture, table stakes given the current existential crisis that our planet and society faces,”​ said Shayna Harris, founder and managing partner.

“The food industry is responsible for a third of climate emissions. Multicultural citizens account for nearly all of US population growth; by 2050 there will no longer be a ‘minority’ in the US. However, according to Pitchbook, 98% of venture capital dollars go to male founders, while Diversity VC estimates 70% of venture-backed founders are white, leaving the remaining population nearly untapped for early stage funding and creating a significant opportunity loss for further innovation.”

She added, “We invest in startups that have a stellar team, are addressing a real problem in a large market and where we see a path to a profitable business.

“It is an exciting time to be investing at the pre-seed and seed stage, and we know the market will come back so companies that have solid fundamentals will find success.”

Frozen dough innovation


In other news, General Mills is pumping $48m to boost manufacturing and packaging capacity at its frozen dough plant in Joplin, Missouri.

The expansion will include new tech to semi-automate processing and packaging processes to improve operational efficiencies. It’s expected to be completed in early 2024 and will enable the facility will be able to churn out more than one billion pounds of frozen dough products each year.

“We’re accelerating our business and investing to support continued growth in frozen dough,”​ said Tim Johnson, plant manager of the Joplin plant.

The factory’s new capacity will create 47 additional jobs, a move especially welcomed by the local government.

“This company’s expansion in Joplin is great news for our southwest region and the hardworking Missourians who call the area home,”​ said Missouri Governor Mike Parson.

“Our commitment to improving infrastructure and strengthening our workforce continues to bring growth that’s benefitting communities statewide.”

According to the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED), General Mills has signed on to benefit from the Missouri Works programme, created to assist in establishing quality jobs through targeted business projects.

The programme allows businesses to save on state withholding tax or receive tax credits for job creation, based on a percentage of payroll of the new jobs. It also provides funding to help local companies purchase or upgrade their equipment.

General Mills is also receiving assistance from Missouri One Start, the state’s recruitment and training division that provides a tailored workforce strategy.

Through these various initiatives, DED is working to create opportunities to to help Missourians to prosper.

“Southwest Missouri and the Joplin community continue to partner with employers on mutually beneficial programmes to drive growth in the region,” ​said Johnson.

“This investment is an acknowledgment of the strong work ethic within the Joplin community and we’re excited to expand our General Mills team.”

Added Mayor Doug Lawson, “General Mills has been a leading employer in Joplin, offering quality jobs and community support for more than two decades.

“We value their confidence in the city of Joplin and Southwest Missouri with this upcoming expansion and appreciate all our partners' work on this development.”

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