From traditional brands to hydration … Oatly’s largest shareholder reveals next megatrend on radar

Belgium-based Verlinvest is a family investment firm behind the brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev. Founded over 25 years ago, Verlinvest currently has 28 brands in its portfolio and manages over $ 4 billion in funding.

Its most famous, or more accurately, notorious brand is Oatly (currently worth more than $ 14 billion since its listing on the US Nasdaq Stock Exchange last month), 55.9% of the joint venture before the IPO. Owned the stock of. ..

Ben Black, Head of European Food and Beverages at Verlinvest, told FoodNavigator that the group is providing “more ethical, sustainable and healthy alternatives” to the long-term growth provided by the trend. He said he was considering an opportunity.

“I believe these three consumer shifts will permeate.”He added that the focus of investment tools is on brands that are trying to direct mainstream consumption towards more ethical alternatives that meet the needs of the new generation.

“We are very focused on what consumers want, and these three trends and long-term consumer change are important to us. The 20th century for consumers in the 20th century. And their consumers have different needs. What we are looking for is a 21st century brand that serves 21st century consumers. They are young and become brands in the food and beverage industry. I have very different expectations for what I want. ”

He believes more people want to buy green and ethical products and are ready to pay more, and socially oriented entrepreneurs and brands are these trends. We are bullish on the possibility of making good use of and promoting.

“I’m very confident that we can see growth from there. Brands with these aspects are growing faster than brands without them.”He told us. “What you see is that larger FMCG strategies are also starting to change direction in line with those trends.”A very clear example is Unilever’s commitment to a purpose-driven brand. FMCG giant “Oil tankers from food industry organizations, but they’re shifting their entire business to this. I’m not looking for oil tankers, I’m looking for speedboats built on these values. I will. “

Trend 1: Personalized nutrition

The first area where agile start-ups are busy making waves is about personalized nutrition. “We are very interested in considering options that help people understand their uniqueness and their nutritional needs.”Black pointed out. “I haven’t seen personalized nutrition adopted in the mass market yet, so what kind of foods do people want to understand their own peculiarities and lead a healthier lifestyle? I am very excited about the brands that can give guidance on what to eat.

Personalized services usually demand higher prices for shoppers. However, according to Black, consumers are willing to pay a premium where they feel value. “If they really benefit from personalized nutrition, I’m sure they will pay a premium for non-personalized nutrition.”

Ben Black of Verlinvest, a fund looking for highly scalable opportunities with international potential. Brands and solutions that provide healthy, sustainable and ethical alternatives are places of future growth, he says.

Trend 2: Plastic-free hydration

According to Verlinvest, hydration trends promise to solve two visionary problems. One is the problem of a dramatic increase in the production of disposable plastics that cannot be contained, controlled, reused or recycled, and the desire of people to stay healthy. “We’ve been supporting the hydration trend for a very long time, but now there’s a new generation of plastic-free brands that move water around the world with plastic-free hydration. No need, no need for disposable plastics. ” Black explained.

Although not included in Verlinvest’s portfolio, one of the brands in this trend is the German startup Air Up. It uses scented air to taste water, encourages the brain to perceive it, and provides a sweet taste without the use of sugar. The system includes a reusable water bottle filled with tap water. To do this, attach a scent pod that releases the flavor into your mouth when you drink. Air Up has already raised € 18 million in a Series A round from investors such as PepsiCo and French food tech investor Five Seasons Ventures.

Another German startup that is trying to confuse the flavor beverage sector is Water Drop. This solution provides consumers with flavored capsules that can be placed in water bottles.“This is a very exciting trend because it is not only useful from a sustainability perspective, but also from a health perspective. It will allow us to consume more water.”Black was observed.

GettyImages PET bottle nito100

The new technology promises to destroy the flavored water category. Image: Getty / nito100

Trend 3: Supply Chain Ethics and Return to Source

According to the knowledge received, COVID has made people more aware of where food comes from and what they put into their bodies. “This has returned to the interest of those who buy local fresh food from our point of view, and has become very interested in where their food comes from.” Black told us.

It represents an exciting time for traditional brands. Mutti is a tomato expert and Italy’s largest brand. “There was a big boom in this business across Covid.”Black revealed. “This is a multi-generational 100-year-old brand with very specific sourcing standards to improve the quality of tomatoes. People have high quality, ethically manufactured, good tasting products. There is a great deal of interest in this area as we are really trying to understand that we are getting a new and very clear consumer perception of supply chain ethics, sources and localization. The focus is that we are very excited. “

He added: “We are attracted to brands that offer luxury with some confidence, especially in Southern Europe, where a lot of attention is being paid to family-owned brands that have been doing the same for many years.”Therefore, Spanish sardine canning producer Ortiz is another great example of a brand that defines a category. “They can prove a level of trust and expertise that people are crazy about.”


Heritage brand high time. Image courtesy of Mutti

Another example is Tony’s Chocolonely, a Dutch chocolate company focused on eliminating child labor within the cocoa bean supply chain. Black believes this concept is “phenomenally interesting.” Consumers in the 21st century are asking,’Are we doing the right thing about how we spend our money?’ Tony’s is due to the way the cocoa bean supply chain was built in the 20th century. Provides a solution to your problem. “

Branded “Amazing Success Story “,He added. “We made an investment about 18 months ago. In a few years the brand has become the largest chocolate brand in the Netherlands. We have gone through a process similar to many internationalized brands. We have launched brands in the UK, US and Germany, which is driving tremendous growth. “Tony’s is now “This year we are well over 100 million euros and have grown by about 30%.”

Tony's Chocolonely Ghana Bar

Tony’s Chocolonley has had tremendous success. But do brands with higher ethical standards carry their goals?

Challenges for “purposeful” brands

However, Tony’s Choco Nelly was criticized. For example Removed earlier this year from the list of ethical chocolate companies due to its relationship with Barry CallebautAdmits that there is no slavery in its supply chain.

Oat Milk, a pioneer of sustainability-focused oat milk-the biggest success story of Berlin Best in 25 years of history-also among its supporters is Blackstone (Amazon Rainforest Forest). Facing a backlash by having (the world’s largest private-equity fund) accused of being involved in deforestation.

These cases raise the following questions: Are the companies that take the highest risk in terms of morals the highest risk of bankruptcy?

According to Black, it’s neither realistic nor desirable for Challenger brands to expect “different” partners to avoid working with them as they scale up and enter the mainstream.

“Ultimately, the brands we work with have a very clear understanding of how they want to shape the world and ignore partners who can help them achieve their mission. Or, I don’t think that not being involved is the right way to make a difference. “He said. “That is, for Oatly, their ultimate goal is to create a brand that offers sustainable alternatives to dairy products on a global scale. That’s probably their number one mission. Similarly, Tony’s mission is. , Freeing chocolate from 100% slavery. By refusing to engage with others, the opportunity to educate them about our practices and influential methods, and, importantly, ultimately me. We miss the opportunity to make a difference, which is our business mission. “ From traditional brands to hydration … Oatly’s largest shareholder reveals next megatrend on radar

Back to top button