General Mills, owners of brands such as Hamburger Helper and Häagen Dazs, recently announced plans to invest in smaller, innovative food startups including plant-based meat alternative Beyond Meat. The food giant’s venture capital unit 301 Inc. was created three years ago to develop its own brands from the ground up, but will now be utilized to “invest in the future of food,” offering capital and industry expertise to “disruptive” food brands that have a leg up on latest food trends. 301 Inc. vice president and general manager John Haugen identified plant-based nutrition, alternative protein sources, non-dairy, wellness, and fresh, minimally processed foods as emerging trends General Mills are interested in. “If you look at overall trends—half the population is trying to avoid meat and yet there’s a continued demand for protein,” Haguen said of 301 Inc.’s investment in Beyond Meat. “We think there is a lot of opportunity there.”
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