Kraft Heinz launches new innovation hub, acquires food tech firm

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Kraft Heinz will help wellio expand its business beyond its beta phase and to a larger audience.  ©GettyImages / Hero Images
Kraft Heinz will help wellio expand its business beyond its beta phase and to a larger audience. ©GettyImages / Hero Images

Related tags Kraft heinz Artificial intelligence Venture capital

A month after committing $100m to launch its venture capital fund, Kraft Heinz has acquired wellio, an AI food tech company based in San Francisco, as part of its new digital innovation hub, the evolv group.

The evolv group will operate independent of Kraft Heinz’s larger VC fund, Evolv Ventures​.​ Evolve group's teams are located in Chicago and San Francisco, focused on creating digitally-powered business models and launching “other entrepreneurial ideas”​ to fuel the growth of Kraft Heinz.

Both the Chicago and San Francisco teams will include a staff of software engineers, data scientists, product managers, designers, and members of its e-commerce team.

As Kraft Heinz previously told FoodNavigator-USA, Evolv Ventures will be working with startups in the food industry targeting four areas: food tech around food production, operations tech (i.e. supply chain, logistics, etc), consumer data and marketing, and finally new models such as direct-to-consumer and e-commerce.

“We wanted to take a holistic look at digital disruption and growth. This is part of a larger growth approach for Kraft Heinz and is in addition to our recently announced $100 million venture fund, Evolv Ventures,”​ Nina Barton, president of global digital online growth at Kraft Heinz, said.

wellio simplifies home cooking

With its acquisition of wellio, Kraft Heinz will gain access to technology that provides elements of a personal nutritionist, chef, and shopper combined to deliver an on-demand dinner solution.

“Home cooked meals are good for us but too often life is busy so we fall back into making the same three or four recipes or getting unhealthy takeout. wellio is dedicated to making it more convenient for people to eat better - which means personalizing variety, healthiness, cost and more,”​ wellio noted on its website. 

According to NPD Group, not everyone wants to be locked into a subscription meal kit model and would prefer to make a last-minute game time decision when it comes to dinner (typically not until after 4:30 p.m.) rather than a week in advance.

However, wellio recognizes that consumers still want the convenience of having elements of a meal delivered to their home within a short time window.

Currently in its beta phase, wellio uses AI to make automated decisions for the user based on a set of core principles. These principles include: inclusion of fresh ingredients from trusted brands, less food and packaging waste (e.g. tomato paste in a tube vs. a can), cost efficiency, scanning of ingredients label/nutrition facts panel to meet specific health and dietary preferences, and inclusion of less processed food.

Through its automated technology, wellio can also take into account ingredients a home cook might already have on hand, especially perishables, and will deliver the rest of the meal’s components in a two-hour time window.

Most wellio meals can be purchased for $5 to $9 per serving, depending on what a user might already have in his or her home pantry and the choice of protein (for example, fish typically costs more than chicken).

Over time wellio, gathers data and interprets user data to better understand a home chef’s preferences to provide a better experience with the technology. 

“In wellio, we found extraordinary talent that could fuel our digital ambitions and an AI platform that can help us create food related solutions for our consumers and help us partner with our customers in unique ways,”​ Barton added.

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