This examination of the best 10 food startups of 2013 is the first in the Christmas Blockbuster Series we’ll be doing every week on the best startups of the year in each industry. We start with food because that’s the best part of the holiday season. Holiday traditions just wouldn’t be the same without a stuffed turkey as part of the Thanksgiving spread, or milk and cookies for Santa.
However, the latest batch of food sector startups isn’t that big on tradition. On the contrary, they’re hell-bent on disrupting the staid old food supply chain with innovative technologies and ideas. Trust and sustainability are very high on the agenda for food startups this year – a natural response to Wall Street’s greed and scandals, and the increasing concern about climate change and food and water shortages. In other words, these are food startups with a cause and a social conscience.
According to Innova Market Insights, the use of the word “origin” (as in tracing the origin of food items and ingredients) in global product launch activity increased 45 percent for the first half of 2013 as compared to the second half of 2012.
The organic food industry has grown into a huge $63 billion giant. In the last decade, it grew by a whopping 170 percent. The U.S. is the biggest market at $31.5 billion, but that’s still just four percent of all the food products sold in the U.S. The scope for growth is huge and likely to continue this decade too.
Within the context of sustainability, the consumer trend has shifted from purely organic food to healthy food and beverages, local produce and reducing food waste. Obviously, this is just one part of the trends coursing through various parts of the food industry.
There are similar sustainability, healthy food and “buy natural” trends sweeping through everything from LEED-certified restaurants to recycled food packaging, additive-free pet foods, hybrid and urban farms increasing agricultural productivity, and so on.
We could talk about this till Christmas, but we need to move on to see what the best food startups are doing this year:-
San Mateo, CA-based startup Love With Food offers a subscription service that helps members find, taste and shop for all-natural or organic snacks. Each month, members get a box of hard-to-find snacks delivered to their doors.
Members then earn points by writing reviews about the snacks they got. They can buy more of what they liked from the online store, or even redeem it if they have enough points. Also, the company donates a meal to food banks for each box of snacks they send out.
This is a 500 Startups Accelerator alum that started off with $50,000 in seed funding in 2011, and then officially launched last year with another $645,000 seed funding round.
San Francisco, CA-based Munchery puts healthy and wholesome meals on your table without the hassle. You get fresh dinner options in your inbox each day, and your choice of premium meals are prepared by top local chefs and delivered to your doorstep. As far as possible, the chefs will use ingredients that are local, organic and sustainable.
Munchery was founded in 2010 and has received $7.92 million, including multiple seed funding, a $4 million Series A round and a $3.22 million venture round.
New York, NY-based Plated also helps you with eat better and wholesome gourmet meals, but this is a more hands-on process. Plated delivers ready-to-cook meals to your doorstep, including all the fresh ingredients and the chef’s recipe for your chosen meal. Again, you get to choose from a new menu of fresh recipes created by featured chefs each week. The delivery is made in a 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable box.
Plated was founded in 2012, and has received $1.4 million through two seed funding rounds.
San Francisco, CA-based Hampton Creek Foods is a food technology company that is doing R&D focused on disrupting the egg industry by coming up with plant-based ingredients to make food products that are just as tasty, and a lot healthier for people and the planet. Hampton Creek Foods hit the limelight as one of three companies selected by Bill Gates in a special feature on his website on the future of food.
The company was founded in Sept 2011, and moved from Beverly Hills to San Francisco in June 2012 when they received $1.5 million in Series A funding from Khosla Ventures. Overall, they have received $3 million in funding, and Bill Gates is one of the investors.
Manhattan Beach, CA-based Savage River Inc.’s Vegan meat brand Beyond Meat is doing to the meat industry what Hampton Creek Foods is doing for the egg industry. To be specific, the company is working on developing plant proteins to perfectly replace animal proteins, in the process creating nutritional value at a lower cost.
Beyond Meat is the second of the three companies mentioned by Bill Gates in his future of food blog post on The Gates Notes. Gates sampled their Vegan chicken strip, and says he couldn’t tell the difference between Beyond Meat and real chicken. Beyond Meat also has received funding from Bill Gates. Other investors include the Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone, and the Humane Society of the United States.Beyond Meat has also received funding from VC fund Kleiner Perkins and Morgan Creek Capital Management.
Savage River Inc. was founded by Ethan Brown in 2010, and they launched Beyond Meat in 2012. The Vegan chicken strips are now being produced at a facility in Columbia, MO and sold to consumers all over the U.S.
Belfast, Northern Ireland-based Sian’s Plan offers tools and support to help families eat healthy. You can plan fresh, balanced meals using low salt, low sugar and low saturated fats recipes. Their aim is to help you reduce waste and save money while avoiding the whole “what’s for dinner” stress.
Sian’s Plan was founded in 2012, and has received $400,000 in seed funding from E-Synergy.
The London, UK-based Gourmet Origins is a specialty online marketplace for artisan and high quality foods from independent producers in Europe. Unlike supermarkets, Gourmet Origins provides an online forum where people can talk, trade stories and find in-depth information about the places the foods they are buying comes from and the people who make them.
Gourmet Origins was launched in 2011 and has received $55,000 in seed funding.
San Francisco, CA-based Zipongo is a digital health company that helps you with healthy meal plans by making use of personalized information you provide. You share your family’s favorite foods and health concerns, and their online tool and app will start showing a “Go” icon on foods that are good for you.
You also get to save on groceries thorough Healthy Savings and Digital Coupons, again personalized with recipes and healthy meal plans for your family. Zipongo was founded in 2010, and has received $2.5 million in seed funding.
New York, NY-based HealthyOut comes up with a healthy menu for you from NYC’s best restaurants and delivers the meal to your home or office. You can order lunch and/or dinner as often or as infrequently as you want. The healthy meals that include tasty dishes prepared by the best chefs in NYC’s best restaurants have an effect of improving your health and actually do reduce your weight, and HealthyOUt has been recognized by NYC Mayor Bloomberg for creating a healthier New York.
HealthyOut was founded in 2012, and has received $1.2 million in seed funding from 500 Startups and other investors.
Boston, MA-based food company UNREAL Candy is trying to rid the world of junk food by offering healthy candy. There’s no artificial stuff or preservatives in this UNREAL Candy. It makes use of sustainable palm oil and grass-fed dairy. It is gluten-free and there’s no GMOS, and the cacao used has traceable origins.
This healthy and UNREAL Candy is the brainchild of a 13-year old whose father took away his candy hoard after a night of trick-or-treating. Nicky Bronner founded Unreal Brands in 2012, and the company has already received $18.7 million in venture and private equity funding.