CHICAGO — The Kraft Heinz Co. is teaming up with TheNotCompany Inc., a maker of meat and dairy alternatives, for a joint venture focused on plant-based innovation.
The joint venture will operate under the control of Kraft Heinz as The Kraft Heinz Not Co. LLC. It will combine NotCo’s patented technology and artificial intelligence solutions with Kraft Heinz’s portfolio and scale to develop plant-based versions of co-branded products.
While interest in plant-based foods is surging, barriers remain around taste, variety and availability, according to the companies. NotCo is making progress on those challenges by developing plant-based replacements for animal products with simpler ingredients that don’t sacrifice taste, functionality or consumption experience.
Led by founder and chief executive officer Matias Muchnick, the Chilean company developed a technology platform that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to reverse engineer animal products and recreate them with plants. It has launched products including NotMilk, NotBurger, NotMeat, NotIceCream, NotChicken and NotMayo in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Colombia.
NotCo is one of Latin America’s fastest-growing food technology startups, achieving unicorn status at a valuation of $1.5 billion in less than five years.
“When we started NotCo, it was our goal to make our technology a catalyzer for a more sustainable food system not only for us, but for other brands and manufacturers who share the same ambition,” Muchnick said. “Today is an exciting milestone for the plant-based industry and shows the power of technology’s role in driving mainstream adoption. We’re thrilled to partner with Kraft Heinz and their iconic brands and work hand-in-hand on building a more sustainable food system.”
Headquartered in Chicago with research and development facilities in San Francisco, The Kraft Heinz Not Co. will focus on plant-based innovation across multiple Kraft Heinz product categories. Lucho Lopez-May, who currently is CEO of NotCo’s North American business, will become CEO of the new joint venture. Lopez-May previously was CEO of Garland Food and president of strategic growth channels at Danone North America.
“The joint venture with TheNotCompany is a critical step in the transformation of our product portfolio and a tremendous addition to our brand design-to-value capabilities,” said Miguel Patricio, CEO of The Kraft Heinz Co. “It helps deliver on our vision to offer more clean, green, and delicious products for consumers. We believe the technology that NotCo brings is revolutionizing the creation of delicious plant-based foods with simpler ingredients.”