A bottle of tomato ketchup, manufactured by Kraft Heinz Co., right, stands next to a jar of Marmite, manufactured by Unilever NV, in this arranged photograph in London, U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Kraft Heinz Embraces Momofuku Sauce in Bid for Foodie Cachet

(Bloomberg) -- Kraft Heinz Co., struggling with sliding sales and a falling stock price, is partnering with celebrity chef David Chang to generate some buzz.

The ketchup maker will use its expertise in food production and distribution to help Chang take his Momofuku Ssam sauce national for the first time. The condiment, which has been served across the chef’s restaurant group since Momofuku Noodle Bar opened in Manhattan in 2004, will be available on Amazon.com in the original flavor and new spicy and smoky versions.

Until now, Ssam sauce has had a limited presence in retail stores, including a handful of Whole Foods Markets in New York City.

The move fits in with Kraft Heinz’s strategy of seeking growth via new products and platforms. Amazon has become increasingly important in the food world in the aftermath of its takeover of Whole Foods, and packaged food companies are trying to figure out how to harness e-commerce for grocery shoppers.

Kraft Heinz recently announced the creation of an upstart brand incubator known as Springboard last month, which will invest across four categories: natural and organic; specialty and craft items; health and performance; and “experiential” brands.

Springboard follows the venture funds created by a number of Kraft’s food-industry competitors, as up-and-coming brands have increasingly taken market share from established players in recent years.

Kraft Heinz, formed in a 2015 merger orchestrated by Warren Buffett and the private equity firm 3G Capital, has struggled since being rebuffed in a bid to buy Unilever in 2017. The company’s stock has declined 33 percent over the last year, wiping out more than $36 billion in market value.

A relationship with Chang stands to bring publicity: The celebrity chef operates several restaurants around the world and recently starred in a well-received Netflix series about food called “Ugly Delicious.” To expand the distribution of his trademark sauce, Momofuku’s culinary lab “collaborated closely with Springboard to scale up the original Ssam sauce recipe for national distribution” and to develop the new flavors, according to a statement.

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