DEERFIELD, ILL. — Mondelez International, Inc. has reached a collaboration agreement with The Kitchen, an Israeli FoodTech-focused incubator owned by Strauss Group. The collaboration is led by Mondelez’s R.&D. and SnackFutures teams.
Founded in 2015 as part of the incubators program of Israel Innovation Authority, The Kitchen seeks to address global food challenges by investing in cutting-edge technology start-ups. Areas of interest include supply chain technologies, efficient food processing, sensors for food safety and quality, prolonged shelf life and reduction of food spoilage, smart packaging, ingredients and products with new health benefits, improved nutritional profiles and reduction of environmental footprints.
The Kitchen’s portfolio currently includes 12 companies, including YOFIX, a platform for non-dairy probiotic foods and beverages based on a blend of cereals nuts and seeds; Aleph Farms, producer of cell-grown meat that resembles farmed meat; Better Juice, a juice company developing a process for reduction of sugar in natural fruit juices; and Zero Egg, a manufacturer of plant-based egg alternatives.
“The Kitchen, as a ventures builder, constantly seeks to bring value to its portfolio companies,” said Jonathan Berger, chief executive officer of The Kitchen. “Partnering with an industry leader such as Mondelez International will bring tremendous value to The Kitchen and our portfolio companies. We look forward to working with their dedicated team and to introducing Israeli FoodTech innovation from seed to shelf around the globe.”
The collaboration will give Mondelez access to Israels’s vast FoodTech ecosystem while allowing Mondelez to offer technological and commercial knowledge to entrepreneurs from The Kitchen. As part of the agreement, The Kitchen start-ups also will have an opportunity to work in Mondelez’s global technical centers, including access to pilot plants and internal experts in R.&D., food safety, marketing insights and operations.
“With over 6,600 active start-up companies and a steady growth year on year, the Israeli innovation ecosystem is one of the most dynamic in the world, and we’re thrilled to be part of it,” said Timothy P. Cofer, executive vice-president and chief growth officer of Mondelez International. “We’re looking to collaborate with the best and brightest talent in advancing the future of snacking. We know we don’t have all the answers within our four walls, so we’re on a mission to create an unconventional ecosystem of partners. The collaboration with The Kitchen is another great example of this ecosystem at play.”
As part of the collaboration, Robin S. Hargrove, executive vice-president of research, development and quality at Mondelez, will join The Kitchen advisory council.
“There’s no doubt that Israel is a world leader in food and agricultural innovation, and we’ve been truly inspired by the talented entrepreneurs that are part of The Kitchen,” Mr. Hargrove said. “We’re looking forward to collaborating with those start-ups, be it to jointly develop new technologies or to provide help and expertise in specific fields.”
Launched in November 2018, SnackFutures is a hub within Mondelez that focuses on accelerating innovation, the invention of new brands and the reinvention of small-scale brands. Earlier this month, the business unit took a minority stake in Hu Products and Hu Kitchen, a snack company that manufactures clean label, paleo-inspired products. In March, SnackFutures invested in Uplift Food, a maker of prebiotic functional foods, and partnered with The Hatchery Chicago, a non-profit food business incubator, to connect with start-ups and accelerate and scale food and beverage innovation.