Hurricane Florence dampened plans for many travelers to Natural Product Expo East, but the smaller crowd made it easier to navigate and spend quality time to promote their businesses, gain inspiration, share innovation and discover new ventures to buy or invest in.
Large CPG companies are now accepted as players – even a transformative force – in the natural products world. Likewise, natural product companies continue to scale production, diversify their distribution channels and expand creatively into food, health, beauty, pets and other consumer categories. Even as they become more mainstream, they contribute to the transformation of CPGs, bringing entrepreneurialism, transparency and a commitment to “higher cause” to the table.
Rising Tide of Capital
The expanding pool of available capital was apparent, with large numbers of people from venture capital, private equity and CPGs investment funds looking to accelerate their natural product strategies. These investors consider natural products companies as the growing pipeline for viable brands and products outside of CPG’s traditional, proprietary innovation machines that have been losing their momentum over the last decade.
They are starting to fund and collaborate at earlier states with industry up-and-comers. Nestle, with its Foundry Foods innovation incubator and Terra Accelerator, as well as Chobani, General Mills, and PepsiCo are just a few examples of how CPG companies are investing to stay ahead in this rapidly changing and increasingly crowded space.
Swelling Demand for Talent
In the quest for growth, demand for capital and talent go hand-in-hand. The continued, massive capital infusion fuels the growth for the 10 to 12 percent of new entries that will actually make it to the next level. But with this support, comes the need for a talent infusion of professional management to take companies to the next level, where investors can realize their investments. They are looking for executives who have the depth of training from top CPG companies, combined with the proven ability to succeed in nimble organizations.
O’Connell Group has seen our percentage of placements in the natural product segment multiply five-fold in a few short years, and we expect continued high demand for top CPG talent in natural products. We have done some of our best work helping companies like these build their teams with brand leaders and insights professionals who possess contemporary skills and knowledge required to succeed in this growing US and global sector.
Large CPGs who have been struggling for top and bottom line growth are now starting to see their investments in natural product companies begin to have an impact. With newly energized product pipelines, better growth seems to be within sight. While reorganizations, mergers, acquisitions and management changes continue, the CPG industry seems to be finding its footing again.
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Our white paper outlines three key strategies for success in the face of intense demand for transformative marketing talent and business leadership in the rapid-growth natural products market.