Though tech companies bring in their share of funding, there is competition for investors in Silicon Valley and beyond. Food startups are vying for a seat at the table, attracting millions of dollars in funding. The world is full of hungry professionals who are striving to build a better food chain. They can be found at your local supermarket, offering samples of tasty gluten-free, superfood snacks.
Here are some trends that demonstrate why food is the industry to watch:
Venture Capitalists Are Hungry
In 2014, the agriculture industry raised $2.36 billion across 264 financing deals. Investors are able to recognize the benefits of today’s new food products. They provide tangible health and fitness benefits and can serve a large population. It’s easy to see how a good food product will be profitable within a realistic time frame.
Food is Scalable
Like any startup, launching a new food business takes motivation and hard work. However, the end product is manufactured with replication and scalability in mind. Therefore, meeting customers’ increasing demands and changes in tastes can be easily accommodated.
The Industry Has Deep Pockets
Food startups swim in an ocean of big fish with plenty of money to spend. The continual mergers and acquisitions between the major players in the industry show that there is plenty of room for newcomers. For instance, the recent merger between Kraft and Heinz created the fifth largest food company in the world, with $28 billion in annual sales. With a growing world population, there will always be a demand for new products and services.
Food Has Impact
Food is more critical to our existence than the apps on our smart phones. A company with a forward-thinking mission can impact an entire supply chain. For instance, San Francisco-based startup Hamptoncreek Fortune have risen because of its vegan-based dressings and baking mixes. In addition to promoting healthy ingredients, the company has enjoyed the opportunity to partner with food service leaders, shippers and suppliers that share its values.
Technology and Food Work Together
The technology gurus of Silicon Valley are looking for ways to collaborate with the new foodies on the block. Partnerships have been formed to create sustainable, animal-free foods. Other technical minds are looking for ways to improve logistics and ways to get products to customers more efficiently.
The Future of Food is Now
Where are food startups looking for ideas? Scientists and food entrepreneurs are working together to change the way we think about food. New production methods are used to develop recipes that include ingredients that were unheard of just a few years ago. Investors have taken notice of the following new ideas:
Biofabrication – Modern Meadow grows both leather and food in its state-of-the-art laboratory. Using a process called biofabrication, new foods and materials are grown using a biopsy which was taken from an animal.
Meal Substitutes – Soylent has developed a food product which is intended to be used as a substitute for food. This meal replacement is a liquid that contains the vitamins, minerals, carbohydates, and proteins that are essential for human nutrition. Soylent is available as an oil-based solution or in powder form. It is mixed with water when consumed.
Microalgae – Solazyme is working to create food from microalgae. This company is using its experience creating renewable biofuels to manufacture eggs, butter, and vegetable oil. Its products are lower in calories and saturated fat than their traditional counterparts.
Salt Substitutes – NuTek has developed a table salt without the sodium. Its product uses potassium salt, which tastes just like table salt without the sodium.
Protein-Enhanced Snacks – Six Foods has added protein to traditional snack offerings. Its flagship product, Chirp Chips, uses flour made from roasted crickets. The added nutrients provide three times the protein of regular potato chips!
Vegan Cheeses – Kite Hill has a new twist on artisanal cheeses. Instead of adding processed ingredients, the company manufactures non-dairy cheeses using almond and macadamia nut milk. Popular varieties include Cassucio, White Alder, and ricotta.
Healthy Candy – UNREAL Candy has made it their mission to produce candy that is good for you. Their products contain grass-fed dairy ingredients and palm oil. The company doesn’t use corn syrup, gluten or GMO-based products. Their delicious treats include chocolate and caramel bars, peanut butter cups, and chocolate-covered peanuts.
Where is Dinner?
Along with the increase in food options, startups are working to get your meal to you in record time. Investors are interested in companies such as Munchery, who offers delivery services that are based on the Uber service model. Many of these firms also offer pre-packaged meals that you can prepare in the comfort of your kitchen.
We have come a long way from the days of meat and vegetables. Today’s food startups are producing products that benefit our health and the environment. The next time you see someone offering samples at the grocery store, stop and give them a try. You might be tasting one of the newest innovations in the industry.
Image credit: CC by nite dan