Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Brands and Investors on
Pivoting for COVID-Era CPG Success

How Are Your Eating Habits Now Compared With Pre-Coronavirus?

We were surprised to learn that 41% of people are eating somewhat healthier or much healthier!  Perhaps this has to do with our very food-conscious sample, or perhaps it’s simply because we have more time to cook.  Regardless, mainstream media would have you think everyone is sitting around eating potato chips. (Okay, we’re still doing some of that…)

Even celebrities are getting in on the healthy eating trend, focusing on building immunity to ward off COVID.  Last week, both Martha Stuart and Naomi Campbell called out superfood Moringa as an immunity booster. Kuli Kuli, a leading Moringa brand that sources from small farmers (largely females in Africa), has certainly seen the benefits of exposure.  Founder Lisa Curtis is leaning into the digital nature of our current state by using influencers’ comments to bolster ecommerce sales. Check them out online!

In the Coming Weeks, For Food Bought From Grocery Stores, Do You Plan to Buy Food That Is Less Premium, Similarly Priced, or More Premium?

Good news for many brands like Kuli Kuli with more premium products, 85% of our members plan to keep spending levels the same.  That means the key is conversion, just like always! Demand is there – you may just have to find a new way to reach your target.

Lauren Joyner, founder of mouth watering plant-based dairy brand Loca Foods (seriously, I could drink their nacho cheese), has taken that challenge head on. Loca was planning to play big in foodservice – and doubtlessly still will – but they’ve pivoted big time to go to market in June with an ecomm focus.

If you’re finding your brand’s distribution channels drying up, you’re not alone.  So many of our members expressed that frustration! Take it from Lauren that if you have a product you know consumers will love, it’s worth it to shift your strategy to get to them.

If your brand happens to be plant-based, we’ve got a group of customers who will love it right here! 44% of participants said they’re most interested in cooking plant-based while we’re stuck inside.

Which Are You More Likely to Order from a Restaurant: Takeout, Delivery, or Neither?

It seems that connection with our food prep still stands outside of our own kitchens, as well.  Last week we asked what your biggest concern was with ordering food, and most of you said it was the preparation itself.  This week we found out that 53% of you would rather order takeout than delivery. Could that preference be due to one less touch-point in “prep” (the delivery itself)?

This urge to limit touch-points and prepare food ourselves has been the perfect intersection for our friends at Imperfect Foods.  Imperfect seeks to reduce food waste by shipping “ugly” or otherwise “un-sellable” food to consumers who will give the love it deserves.  Buyer Caroline Muang shared COVID-era a success story. Imperfect has been working with vendors managing at-risk inventory due to virus-related demand changes.  They’re able to buy that inventory and ship it to consumers at a fair price, allowing customers to stay home and distribute food that would have otherwise been wasted.

Touchdown Ventures Investor Brett Kadesh told us that brands similarly affected by the pandemic should lean on their backers for additional support.  The majority of his days are spent helping figure out how his teams could pivot to succeed, much like Kuli Kuli, Loca Foods, and Impossible Foods.


“The [teams] in our portfolio come first over everything else.  They come first.  The majority of our day is trying to support those investments.”
— Brett Kadesh


What if you’re still looking for funding, you ask?  Brett says to focus on your niche. Smaller funds are looking for opportunities to capitalize on unique market opportunities like the ones mentioned above.  If you can solve a problem for customers in quarantine (and prep a solid financial model – check out last week’s article for advice), don’t be afraid to keep pushing.

Brett’s one caution was to think very critically about founding during COVID if it means you would have to leave a secure job.  We live in uncertain times, and until things settle, a reliable stream of income is a precious thing.  Sometimes, however, big risk brings reward. Brett cited that the list of companies started in a down market could drop some jaws. Trader Joe’s, Disney, and Microsoft did ok.

Whatever path you choose, let us share the journey!  Join our StartupCPG community and grab a drink for our next happy hour.  See you there!

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