Introducing this year's most innovative women in food and beverage
- Fortune and Food & Wine magazine, both Time Inc. publications, have named 20 people to their list of the most innovative women in the food and beverage industry.
- This third annual class of female food influencers includes manufacturers, distillers, ingredient suppliers, chefs, chicken farmers, teachers, foodservice and supermarket management, activists, maltsers and wine enthusiasts.
- Among the food and beverage producers on the list include Kristy Lewis, founder of popcorn maker Quinn Foods; Emily Miller and Kimberly Jung of saffron supplier Rumi Spice; Marianne Barnes of Castle & Key and Kentucky's first female master distiller since Prohibition; Terry Wheatley of Vintage Wine Estates; Ashby Marshall of California-based Spirit Works Distillery; Mercedes & Maria José López de Heredia of wine producer R. Lopez de Heredia; and Cecilia Rios Murrieta of tequila maker La Niña del Mezcal.
The food and beverage industry is, like other business enterprises, predominated by male executives, but women are starting to play a larger role at all levels of the industry. Their place ranges from startup founders and major manufacturing CEOs to food scientists and food and beverage investors. One reason women may receive more recognition is that companies value their experience as often the primary household grocery shopper.
Also notable are the segments in which these women are innovating. In manufacturing, Kristy Lewis is disrupting the microwave popcorn industry, of which RTE popcorn has recently taken a bite out of its market share. Two others work in distilling craft spirits, which has been a small but fast-growing category attracting more alcoholic beverage drinkers and challenging major spirits makers.
Fortune also recently released its annual Most Powerful Women list, which included three major food and beverage manufacturing CEOs: PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi (No.2), Mondelez's Irene Rosenfeld (No. 9) and Campbell's Denise Morrison (No. 24). Experts recognize these women for the roles they have played in turning around their respective companies, from PepsiCo's soda woes and Campbell's processed food pangs to Mondelez's pressure from investors to cut costs further or sell itself.