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Scientists and entrepreneurs are revolutionizing the way we think about food.
We’re seeing new ingredients, like insects, and new means of production, including 3D printers.
Investors are taking notice. In 2013 VCs invested $146 million in the food and beverage industry, according to a report from CB Insights.
We’ve put together a list of 10 food startups that aren’t just creating sustainable, healthier food options — they’re shaping the future of food.
Modern Meadow grows meat and leather in its lab.
Founders: Andras Forgacs (CEO), Gabor Forgacs (chief scientific officer), Francoise Marga, Karoly Jakab
What it is: Modern Meadow grows leather and food in its lab using biofabrication, which takes small biopsies from animals leaving them unharmed. Modern Meadow’s next development, pending FDA approval, will be marketing its 3D printed beef.
Funding: Just received $10 million from Horizons Ventures; prior funding from investors including Sequoia Capital and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel
Soylent lets you drink complete meals.
Founder: Rob Rhinehart (CEO)
What it is: Soylent is a food product designed to be a complete meal replacement. It’s made up of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates essential for human nutrition. Soylent comes in a powder form as well as an oil-based solution, and both are mixed with water to create the meal substitute.
Funding: $2.3 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Initialized Capital, Lerer Ventures, Hydrazine Capital, Y Combinator
Solazyme turns algae into food ingredients for your favorite recipes.
Founder: Jonathan Wolfson (CEO)
What it is: Solazyme, a company known for creating renewable biofuels and skincare products from algae, has ventured into new territory: food. Its microalgae-derived food ingredients, which include eggs, butter, and vegetable oil, offer reduced calories, saturated fat and cholesterol than traditional products.
Funding: $145.80 million from Harris & Harris Group, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Braemar Energy Ventures, VantagePoint Capital Partners, Roda Group, Bunge, Bluecrest Capital Finance, Morgan Stanley, Chevron Technology Ventures
Hampton Creek replaces eggs with plant-based substitutes.
Founder: Josh Tetrick (CEO)
What it is: Hampton Creek wants to make the multibillion-dollar egg industry obsolete by introducing egg-free alternatives to consumers. Besides creating a realistic alternative to the chicken egg, the company has also created Just Mayo and Just Cookies, which use plant-based ingredients instead of eggs.
Funding: $30 million from AME Cloud Ventures, Jerry Yang, Scott Banister, Jessica Powell, Horizons Ventures, Ali Partovi, Eagle Cliff Partners, Collaborative Fund, Kat Taylor, Ash Patel, Khosla Ventures, Hadi Partovi, Founders Fund
Beyond Meat provides plant protein-based alternatives to meat products.
Founders: Ethan Brown (CEO), Brent Taylor (vice president of corporate development)
What it is: Beyond Meat uses plant proteins to make synthetic alternatives to meat products. So far its two main products are chicken-free strips and beef-free crumbles. The company’s goal is to help reduce global consumption of animal meat by 25% by 2020.
Funding: Investors include Obvious Corporation and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers
NuTek Salt shapes the future of table salt without using sodium.
Founders: Tom Manuel (CEO), Sam Rao (vice president and chief innovator)
What it is: NuTek Salt is a natural potassium salt, extracted the same way sodium salt is. It’s a healthier alternative to sodium salt that doesn’t compromise the taste you’d expect from salt.
Funding: Investors include Khosla Ventures
Six Foods’ insect-based food products provide more protein and sustainability than traditional snacks.
Founders: Laura D’Asaro, Meryl Natow, Rose Wang
What it is: Founded by three friends from Harvard University, Six Foods believes in the power of foods derived from six-legged creatures: insects. Its first product, Chirp Chips, are made with beans, rice, and a flour made from roasted crickets. Available in three flavors — sea salt, hickory BBQ, and aged cheddar — Chirp Chips contain three times the protein of regular potato chips.
Funding: $70,559 pledged on Kickstarter
Kite Hill’s artisan cheeses bring new life to vegan-cheese options.
Founders: Dr. Patrick Brown, Monte Casino, Tal Ronnen, Jean Prevot (COO)
What it is: Using almond milk and macadamia milk, Kite Hill’s artisanal cheeses come in varieties like Cassucio, truffle dill and chive, Coastanoa, White Alder, and ricotta. “Nondairy cheese is nothing new,” Tal Ronnen, cofounder of Kite Hill, told the San Francisco Business Times. “But traditionally, nondairy cheeses are made with highly processed ingredients with oils.” Kite Hill’s cheeses are all-natural, including just four ingredients: pasteurized nut milk, cultures, enzymes, and salt.
Funding: Investors include Khosla Ventures
Real Food Blends offer tasty and healthy food options for those on feeding tubes.
Founder: Julie Bombacino
What it is: Typical meals given to the 1 million Americans who eat through feeding tubes consist primarily of corn syrup, water, and vitamins. Real Food Blends changes all that. Meals that the company offers include blends made of orange chicken, carrots, and barley; quinoa, kale and hemp; and salmon, oats, and squash.
Funding: $15,701 crowdfunded on IndieGogo
UNREAL Candy makes your favorite junk food healthier.
Founders: Adam Melonas, Nicky Bronner, Michael Bronner
What it is: After discovering how much junk was in his Halloween candy, 13-year-old Nicky Bronner and his dad Michael turned to master chef Adam Melonas to help them craft a healthier candy. UNREAL Candy contains grass-fed dairy and sustainable palm oil and no corn syrup, GMOs, or gluten. Mimicking its junkier alternatives, UNREAL Candy includes a peanut butter cup; candy-coated chocolates; chocolate, caramel, and nougat bars; candy-coated, chocolate-covered peanuts; and chocolate, caramel, peanut, and nougat bars.
Funding: $18.70 million