For the better part of a decade, Big Food has been in a scramble to restructure and reinvent itself amid a massive shift in consumer preferences that's given rise to gluten-free, low-sugar, non-GMO and "clean" options.
Looking to innovate and move faster to respond to ever-evolving trends, packaged-food makers have tried developing niche products to compete against a wave of upstarts. They've carved out internal venture-capital arms that throw cash behind minority stakes in startups in the hope that one hits. And, most significantly, they've put big money into snapping them up and attempting to scale them through sophisticated distribution networks and deep-pocketed marketing budgets.
Conagra Brands in 2016 scooped up Rick Bayless' Frontera Foods for $108.9 million and last year paid a whopping $10.8 billion for Pinnacle Foods, the owner of brands such as Smart Balance and Udi's.
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