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How Kraft Mac and Cheese ice cream can help investors understand the company's stock

·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·3 min read

Kraft Heinz (KHZ) has developed a reputation over these past few years for lacking in creativity.

In many respects, the company deserves the bad rap. After merging with Heinz in 2015, the behemoth embarked on an aggressive cost-cutting initiative that starved major brands from the capital needed to innovate and ultimately grow down the competitive supermarket aisles. As a result, that hammered sales, profits and the stock price. It also led billionaire Warren Buffett (Kraft Heinz's largest shareholder), to publicly rebuke the company in 2019.

But the tone at Kraft Heinz has started to shift under Miguel Patricio, who took over as CEO in July 2019. The latest indication the food giant is different than the fumbling one seen before Patricio's arrival is evidenced in a new ice cream collaboration. Kraft Heinz joined forces with Brooklyn artisanal ice cream maker Van Leeuwen to release a limited-edition ice cream that tastes like its trademark Kraft Mac & Cheese.

On the outside, it's a simple gesture for ice cream fans during the summer months. But for investors, it's another clue that Patricio and his new team are executing on investing in key brands and helping to drive better brand sentiment (or any sentiment). When was the last time Mac & Cheese was trending on Twitter as it is now?

Patricio, a former Anheuser-Busch marketing wizard, wasted no time in setting up a new management team. In September 2020, Patricio sold part of the company's cheese business for $3.2 billion to France's Groupe Lactalis. The company outlined a more focused set of product priorities to investing, and promised to boost marketing by 30% in top brands while also cutting $2 billion in costs through 2024.

Shares of Kraft Heinz have subsequently shot up 78% over the past two years. The S&P 500 is up 45% over the same stretch.

I've covered Kraft Heinz since its merger and I'm convinced this tie-up would not have happened under prior management. And hey, the stuff tastes good too, as I learned in my taste test below.

It's not as weird as it looks. And yes, that's a Mac & Cheese noodle on the container — which happens to be decked out in the trademark Kraft Mac & Cheese box blue.

Kraft Mac & Cheese....ice cream.
Kraft Mac & Cheese....ice cream.

The ice cream showed up rock solid.

As expected, ice cream is cold.
As expected, ice cream is cold.

To answer your question, there are no elbow noodles in the ice cream. The ice cream includes Kraft cheese sauce mix to give it the flavor and annato, an "orange-red dye obtained from the pulp of a tropical fruit, used for coloring foods and fabric." Annato gives the ice cream the orange flavor typical to mac and cheese.

The ingredients are fairly simple.
The ingredients are fairly simple.

The pair nailed the color, it looks exactly like Kraft Mac & Cheese.

Yes, it's ice cream.
Yes, it's ice cream.

As for the taste, it all just works — believe it or not — and I'm not sure why. The sweetness of ice cream meets the saltiness of mac and cheese.

All in all, pretty good.
All in all, pretty good.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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