5 food startups to get excited about
Those keeping a close eye on the food industry may have witnessed a slew of new consumer demands, requesting everything from eco-friendly meats to gluten-free meals from many companies. Startups have taken note of the rising industry trends, capitalizing on their popularity to offer services and products new to the market.
Below are our picks for the five most exciting food startups to watch in the upcoming year.
Touted by the New York Times as meat alternatives that “finally, taste like chicken,” Beyond Meat’s chicken and beef-free products made with non-GMO soy and pea proteins are available in a growing number of grocery retailers. Animal activism is just one of this company’s motivators—it also aims to combat global warming with sustainable meat-alternatives. Backed by this trend-fueled activism and big-name investors (Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone, Bill Gates, and Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing) Beyond Meat just might realize its hearty mission to reduce global meat consumption by 25% by 2020.
Retail companies TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker both found success in their by-one give-one business approach, a trend Washington DC-based Nouri has followed with its gourmet snack bars. With every bar bought, Nouri donates a hot meal to a student, many of them orphans living in some of the world’s poorest countries. They also address a range of health concerns rapidly appearing in the industry, as each of their available bars are 100% vegan, dairy-free, all-natural, gluten free, and non-GMO.
According to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, 40% of food in the United States goes uneaten, amounting to an equivalent of $165 billion wasted each year. Startup Food Cowboy has positioned itself as a middleman to catch this waste, providing distributors with alternative means to dispose of unwanted product outside of the usual trash dumpsters. Using its website, truckers carting a load of rejected product (largely for aesthetic reasons) can locate food banks along their route and dispose of the foods there. Along with adapting a sustainable business practice, distributors—now donors—also receive a receipt and tax documents from Food Cowboy for their contribution.
The dairy case remained largely non-controversial until recent years, when a range of alternatives, from soy to coconut, have started to cramp up the space. Fairlife's Purely Nutritious Milk occupies the chasm between these two spectrums, touting itself as “real milk” with more protein, 50% more calcium, and half the sugar as ordinary milk. Its unique filtration process has caught the attention of both health enthusiasts and the press: Fast Company has named it one of 2014’s most innovative companies in food, and its Core Power product was named the official protein drink at the 2014 Olympic Games.
It’s a well-kept secret amongst popcorn enthusiasts that some of the most flavorful kernels are those half-popped nuggets hidden in the bottom of the bag. Halfpops has capitalized on this knowledge (and the expanding healthy snack food industry) with their partially-popped popcorn snacks, available in two flavors in select stores in the Northwest, California, and New York. Look for even more expansion for Halfpops, especially if the snack continues to collect the type of accolades it has received in the past from noticeable names like Food & Wine and Backpacker Magazine.
Read more about these companies in Food Dive's Startup Directory:
Beyond Meat, Nouri, Fairlife, Food Cowboy, Halfpops Inc.