A round up of innovations from food entrepreneurs throughout the United States.
The Grounded Foods Co., Los Angeles, makes plant-based cheese alternatives. Its products are formulated with hemp seed and imperfect cauliflower. Varieties include lemon, garlic and thyme marinated goat cheese-style blocks; an onion and chives cream cheese-style spread; and an American cheese-style sauce.
Free of nuts, soy and gluten, the products were designed for flexitarians seeking to reduce dairy consumption, according to the company. Grounded Foods was founded by Australian business partners Veronica Fil, a former behavior economist, and Shaun Quade, a chef and restaurateur. The startup uses a novel fermentation process to achieve textures that replicate dairy cheese.
The company has raised $2.5 million in pre-Series A funding. The founders plan to use the proceeds from the funding round to expand retail distribution throughout the United States. The investment also establishes a gateway to the European market, where demand for plant-based alternatives is growing, according to the company.
Agua Bonita, Hanford, Calif., offers a twist on the traditional Mexican refreshment aguas frescas, flavored waters typically formulated with sugar and primarily available in fountain drink applications. The brand’s canned still beverages contain no sweeteners and are flavored with juice from imperfect or excess produce that would otherwise be wasted. Founders Kayla Castañeda and Erin PonTell launched the business in 2020 after a previous venture failed due to the pandemic.
Agua Bonita offers two varieties — pineapple cucumber and watermelon chile — that are sold direct-to-consumer on its website. The company has raised $2 million in a pre-seed round and plans to use proceeds from the fundraising to expand distribution and develop additional products and seasonal flavors.
TBH (To Be Honest), New York, is a hazelnut cocoa spread with three times more protein and half the sugar of other hazelnut spreads, according to the company. The business was founded by Noah Schnapp, an actor.
TBH spread is vegan and contains no palm oil. The product is made with hazelnuts as the first ingredient, plus organic sugar and organic cocoa powder. The product is available online at snacktbh.com and in select stores in New York City and Miami.
The St. James Tea Co., Miami, processes an organic and sustainably-packaged line of ready-to-drink teas. The business offers a variety of green teas in flavors such as pineapple-mango, passionfruit-peach and blueberry-raspberry. The beverages contain 4 grams of sugar, 4 grams of carbs and 25 calories per serving.
The teas will be available online and in select retailers beginning in December.
Better Brand, Los Angeles, uses modified enzyme technology to reduce the net carbohydrates in grain-based foods. Its first product, The Better Bagel, has the net carbohydrate equivalent of two banana slices and the protein content of four eggs, according to the company. The product is formulated with modified wheat starch, wheat protein isolates, potato starch, chicory root fiber, extra virgin olive oil, yeast, organic brown rice flour, organic white vinegar, sea salt and enzymes.
The company has closed a $2.5 million funding round. The company plans to use the proceeds from the funding round to further research and development, accelerate hiring and prepare for large-scale retail distribution.
Spudsy sources imperfect sweet potatoes to produce puffed snacks in a variety of flavors, including barbecue, vegan sour cream and onion, vegan ranch and cinnamon churro.
The company raised $3.3 million in Series A funding and plans to develop sales and marketing strategies, build out its direct-to-consumer business and expand its reach to new consumers in new channels with the investment.
MOSH (Maria Owings Shriver Health), Los Angeles, offer a line of protein bars formulated with adaptogens and nutrients linked to brain health. A percentage of sales supports Alzheimer’s research. The business was founded by Maria Shriver and her son Patrick Schwarzenegger.
Ms. Shriver and Mr. Schwarzenegger partnered with brain health experts and nutritionists to develop the protein bars, which are available in peanut butter, chocolate and peanut butter chocolate flavors. Ashwagandha, lion’s mane mushroom, collagen, medium-chain triglyceride oil, vitamins B12 and D3 and omega-3 fatty acids are among the ingredients included in the formulations.
SOMOS, Austin, Texas, manufactures a line of shelf-stable, slow cooked Mexican foods that may be used to make meals at home. The brand offers a variety of rices, beans, tortilla chips, salsas and plant-based entrees, including smoky chipotle mushrooms, cauliflower tinga and two kinds of pea-cadillo, a plant-based alternative to ground beef.
Specifically, SOMOS’ initial lineup includes Mexican brown rice and cilantro lime white rice, available for a suggested retail price of $2.99 per 8.8-oz package, and Mexican black beans and spicy refried beans, available for a suggested retail price of $3.79 per 10-oz package. The brand’s plant-based entrees are available for a suggested retail price of $5.29 per 10-oz package.
SOMOS also offers blue and white corn tortilla chips as well as a line of salsas. The chips are available for $4.99 per 6-oz bag, and the salsas are available for $3.99 per 12-oz jar.
Sophie’s Kitchen, Inc., Las Vegas, is a processor of plant-based seafood alternatives. The company offers vegan substitutes for fish fillets, crab cakes, smoked salmon and canned tuna that are free of soy, gluten and genetically modified ingredients.
Sophie’s Kitchen has raised $5.6 million that will be used to support growth of the brand and new product development.
“We at Sophie's Kitchen believe in the same mission — to save lives and protect the planet, one meal at a time,” said Miles Woodruff, PhD, chief executive officer. “The best way to achieve this goal is to create plant-based foods craved by vegans and meat-lovers alike, while making our products accessible to consumers so they can also join our mission for change.”
Honey Mama’s, Portland, Ore., manufactures bars that feature a base of raw honey, unrefined coconut oil, cocoa and Himalayan pink salt, plus such flavor combinations as lavender and rose petals, tahini and tangerine oil, and Vietnamese cinnamon and cayenne. The products are free from refined sugar, soy, eggs, dairy, gluten and grains, and are available in more than 3,000 retail locations nationwide and online at honeymamas.com.
The company has closed a $10.3 million Series A funding round and plans to use the investment for brand building, emerging channel development and product innovation.
CHKN Not Chicken, Portland, Ore., manufactures plant-based chicken alternative made with pea protein. Featuring 20 grams of protein and 140 calories per 8-oz serving, the product may replace chicken in a range of recipes such as stir fry, rice bowls, tacos, sandwiches, salads, soups, pasta and more. The initial product line includes a traditional Naked CHKN variety, a Fiesta CHKN flavor featuring Mexican spices and citrus and a Zen flavor featuring Asian spices and ginger.
The company has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding and used the money to launch its product assortment into retailers across the United States and expand partnerships with quick-service and casual dining restaurants.
Poppi, Dallas, is a manufacturer of prebiotic soda. The beverages are formulated with apple cider vinegar, along with sparkling water, fruit and plant-based sweeteners. The beverages contain prebiotics that aid in digestion, immunity and skin health, according to the company.
At $2.49 per can, Poppi comes in a range of flavors, including watermelon, strawberry lemon, raspberry rose, orange, ginger lime, grapefruit and more. The company recently raised $13.5 million that will be used to expand distribution, scale its staff and invest in marketing.