The accelerator is open to emerging brands with sales of €5m or less with products aimed at European consumers.
PepsiCo will select 10 start-ups or small to medium businesses (SMEs) that will receive €20,000 in funding and a six-month mentorship programme with one-on-one guidance from PepsiCo executives.
An overall winner will be awarded €100,000 to continue its expansion, and will grant PepsiCo exclusive rights for six months after the award to make an equity investment on mutually agreed terms.
The deadline to apply for the accelerator, now in its second year, is 11 June 2018.
Experts from the multinational, whose brands include Quaker, Pepsi and Tropicana, will guide the chosen start-ups on brand optimisation and marketing, product development, supply chain management, cash flow management, customer acquisition and distribution.
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An open call for candidates
PepsiCo said it was looking for emerging food and beverage brands that have a focus on four areas: nutrition, performance, lifestyle and purpose.
This meant, for instance, brands whose products contain nutrient-rich ingredients that deliver functional and health benefits or brands that are tapping into today’s goal-driven culture, helping consumers achieve “peak productivity or performance,” it said.
Veganism and personalised nutrition were two key lifestyle trends it namechecked.
It was also interested in brands ‘with a mission’, which could be demonstrated through supply chain traceability or sustainable packaging, for example.
“We've become much more holistic in our purchasing decisions,” a spokesperson said. “There is now unprecedented interest in purpose-driven brands, particularly in the food and beverage space.”
In addition to the “obvious qualities” of taste, brand presentation and value for money, PepsiCo said it was looking for products leveraging nutrient profiles, potential health claims, natural or organic sourcing and clean labels.
Successful candidates would also have a scalable business model and an offering that is unique in the market.
“We are running this initiative because we recognise that sometimes, great ideas can come through collaboration," the spokesperson said. "We have a lot to offer smaller start-ups and we know that we can learn from them. We want smaller innovative companies to recognise that PepsiCo is an organisation that can help them scale their business.
“Whilst we are not restricting entrants by their locations, the product must be aimed at European consumers,” the spokesperson said. “If the product is country-specific it should have a potential to explore the whole European market.”
Last year the other eight finalists were Divingmar, Fit Kitchen, Frecious, Jimini’s, Tapped, No Fairytails, Erbology and Your Superfoods, with Erbology picked as the overall winner.
According to PepsiCo, the eight companies achieved an estimated combined growth of over €10m – a fourfold increase in sales over the course of the programme.
Vice president of nutrition for PepsiCo Western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa Juan Ignacio Amat said Erbology stood out thanks to its “enthusiasm, drive and collaboration”.
The London-based start-up, which transforms nutritional superfoods such as Jerusalem artichoke, aronia berries and nopal cactus into processed products like granola, benefitted from PepsiCo’s marketing expertise to expand its range. It also launchedd 11 new products in the second half of 2017, and secured retail listings, such as Ocado.