We work with investors and companies looking for investment, seeing both sides of the coin. Part of our job is to stop entrepreneurs from going after investment too early, in the process burning bridges they may well need at a later time.

Here are 7 issues we see time after time and what to do about them:

Lack of a Unique Value Proposition: Investors want to see a product or service that stands out in the crowded CPG market. If your offering is too similar to existing options, you need to differentiate it by highlighting its unique features, benefits, or target audience. The world doesn’t need another gluten-free cookie.

Weak Financial Projections: Investors look for startups with a solid financial plan and realistic projections – including pre-revenue startups. Ensure that your financial forecasts are well-researched, backed by data, and demonstrate a path to profitability. If you don’t have a financial expert on your team, hire one today.

Inexperienced Management Team: The experience and expertise of the management team is hugely important. If your team lacks relevant industry experience or a track record of success, consider bringing on advisors or mentors to strengthen your credibility.

Unclear Go-to-Market Strategy: Everybody wants to see a clear and well-defined plan for how you will bring your product to market, including distribution channels, marketing strategies, and sales tactics. Be vague or unrealistic to raise instant red flags..

Inadequate Intellectual Property Protection: I cannot possibly stress enough how important this is. If your product or service is easily replicable, if your brand is your only moat, investment will be harder to come by. Ideally, you’ll have patents, trademarks, or other intellectual property protections in place to demonstrate your competitive advantage.

Poor Branding and Packaging: Repeat after me: Canva doesn’t cut it. Your neighbour’s kid with a design degree doesn’t cut it. Branding and packaging that’s optimized for the industry are essential for attracting consumers and standing out on store shelves. If your branding and packaging are lacklustre or fail to resonate with your target audience, it will deter investors.

Insufficient Passion and Commitment: Investors need to see that you and your team are passionate about your product and committed to the long-term success of the business. “Great product, not sure about the team” is feedback we hear far too often from potential investment partners. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will.

Somehow, somewhere, an 82% failure rate for CPG products has become normalized. We don’t think that’s acceptable, so we decided to build a system that makes success in CPG predictable.

Restaurant prices have been soaring 7.1% YoY compared to a 3.6% rise at grocery stores, and consumers are shifting their dining habits towards more affordable, but still convenient options.

→ Enter “Grocerants” – ready-to-eat meals served by grocery stores like Loblaws, Kroger and CostCo are taking a bite out of the restaurant industry’s profits.

→ Deli 2.0: Kroger has expanded its prepared-meal section, bundling entrées with sides and drinks. Giant Eagle is tripling the number of its prepared meals on offer , and Walmart is innovating with in-store ghost kitchens. In Canada, Loblaw Companies Limited are expanding into the market.

→ Pushing the Cart: Prepared-food sales grew 12% last year to over $23B, led by lunch favourites like soup and chilli. Convenience is key!

→ Convenience vs. Experience: Fast food restaurants like Taco Bell, KFC, and Chipotle are upping their game with unique offerings and improved interiors. But can they beat the convenience of a premade meal placed right by pantry staples?

THE TAKEAWAY: Fast food thrived on speed and predictability, but grocers are now encroaching on that turf. And with the cost of food at an all-time high, price will continue to drive decisions.

Recent research from Kerry (5000 consumers in 10 countries) revealed a an interesting consensus across countries: 98% of us are actively seeking ways to reduce food waste, mostly driven by environmental, social, and financial concerns.

Key Insights:

→ 70% of consumers are interested in products designed to minimize food waste.

→ A significant 72% believe longer shelf-life products are crucial in waste reduction.

→ Stance on preservatives: 82% prefer natural options, highlighting a shift towards healthier, more sustainable choices.

→ Changes in purchasing habits, with 91% of consumers willing to switch brands for better sustainability practices.

Opportunities for Innovation and Marketing Strategy:

With 70% of consumers interested in products designed to minimize food waste, there’s a clear demand for innovative solutions.

This could mean creating products that have a longer shelf life or utilizing ingredients that are typically discarded. For instance, developing products that use “ugly” fruits and vegetables, or creating new foods from by-products of processing, can appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.

Natural Preservatives:

The consumer preference for natural preservatives over artificial ones (82%) means that if your brands leverage natural preservatives they not only cater to the demand for cleaner labels but also position themselves as champions of sustainability.

Marketing and Brand Positioning:

Food waste reduction and shelf life efforts should inform marketing strategies.

Messaging that highlights the sustainability efforts of a brand, especially in terms of reducing food waste will resonate with consumers.

Packaging Innovations:

With consumers willing to switch brands for better shelf life, there’s a substantial opportunity in rethinking packaging. Innovations in packaging that extend the shelf life of products or allow for better portion control can meet consumer demands and reduce food waste.

Smart packaging solutions that incorporate technology to indicate freshness or optimal consumption periods can also be a significant draw.

Consumer Education:

Beyond product and packaging innovations, there’s a role for consumer education in reducing food waste. Brands can engage consumers with tips on storing and preserving food at home, understanding expiration dates, and creatively using leftovers.

This not only helps in building a relationship with consumers but also positions a brand as a thought leader in sustainability.

The Nostalgic Secret Ingredient

Spam, the iconic canned meat, is making a comeback in the culinary world, and it’s not just for nostalgia’s sake.

From Spam musubi to Spam sliders, in 2024, chefs and food enthusiasts alike are rediscovering it.

Spam musubi is a Hawaiian staple, combining elements of Japanese sushi with Spam. The origin is a little murky, with some claiming that it was created by Barbara Funamura, a Japanese-American woman from Kauai, or during the Japanese internment camps during World War II. It’s simple to make and highly customizable.

Want to try? Here’s a recipe to get you started:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of Spam (12 oz)
  • 5 cups of cooked sushi rice or short-grain rice
  • 5 sheets of nori (seaweed wrap)
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • Furikake (Japanese rice seasoning, optional)
  • 1 Musubi mold (or an empty Spam can, cleaned and with both ends removed)

Instructions:

Prepare the Rice: Cook the rice according to the package instructions. Sushi rice is preferred for its stickiness and ability to hold its shape. Once cooked, optionally season the rice with furikake for added flavor.

Cook the Spam: Open the Spam can, remove the Spam, and slice it into 8-10 even slices. In a skillet over medium heat, fry the Spam slices until they are slightly crispy on both sides. This usually takes about 2 minutes per side. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. Once the Spam slices are cooked, pour the mixture over them and continue cooking until the slices are well-coated and the sauce thickens. This caramelization process adds a rich flavor to the Spam.

Assemble the Musubi: Cut the nori sheets in half lengthwise. Place the musubi mold (or the empty Spam can) in the center of a strip of nori. Scoop a layer of rice into the mold, pressing it down to about 1/2 inch thick. If you’re using furikake, sprinkle a bit over the rice. Place a slice of the cooked Spam on top of the rice. Add another layer of rice on top of the Spam, pressing firmly. If using a mold, press the plunger down to compress the layers. If using a Spam can, use a spoon or similar object to press down and compact the layers.

Wrap the Nori: Remove the musubi from the mold and place it at the edge of the nori strip. Wrap the nori tightly around the rice and Spam, moistening the edge of the nori with a little water to seal it.

Serve: Cut the musubi into halves or thirds, depending on your preference. Serve immediately or wrap them individually for a portable snack or meal.
Customize your Spam Musubi with additional ingredients like avocado, scrambled egg, or pickled radish.

If you want to win in our industry, you need to beat the odds. Thankfully, we have the data to make that possible.

What consumers want and need

Last month we talked about indulgence, this month we’re highlighting nostalgia as a major consumer need in food and drink.

Just like the desire for indulgent treats, nostalgia is an emotion we see most of in times of unrest and insecurity. The three main drivers for these feelings are:

  • climate change
  • global conflicts
  • inflation

But nostalgia is not just a fleeting moment of reminiscence – it’s a significant movement driven by Gen Xers and Millennials.

As these generations start families, there’s a desire to share the tastes of their youth with their own kids, sparking a renaissance of once-forgotten flavours.

The Hi-C’s Ecto Cooler

The comeback of Hi-C’s Ecto Cooler is a prime example of nostalgia’s power. Originally launched in 1987 in partnership with the Ghostbusters franchise, Ecto Cooler became a childhood staple throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s.

But as the Ghostbusters fever waned, so did Ecto Cooler’s presence on store shelves—until 2021.

Coinciding with the release of a new Ghostbusters film, a surge of nostalgia-driven demand among Millennials led to the drink’s return. This revival not only allowed parents to relive their youth but also introduced a new generation to a taste blast from the past.

This trend keeps on giving

From Dunkaroos to classic kiddie cereals, Taco Bell treats, and long-forgotten chip flavours, the market is witnessing a massive renaissance of retro products.

These comebacks are largely fuelled by social media, where nostalgic parents share their yearnings for childhood favorites and mobilize campaigns for their return. Brands keen to leverage this movement are rediscovering the potential of ’80s sweets and ’90s pizza-inspired products, finding that these flavors can captivate both those who remember them fondly and newcomers alike.

How to profit from this

  • Re-imagine food from 50-30 years ago – be sure to maintain the flavor and consumption experience that made the products a success originally.
  • Work with us to identify the most appealing flavors to score a nostalgic home run.
  • Consider updating the ingredients to make them relevant to today’s consumer sensitivities. Low/no sugar, more natural ingredients.