7 Food & Beverage Brands Positively Impacting Our Planet And Health

Forbes April 20, 2024

Lifestyle

7 Food & Beverage Brands Positively Impacting Our Planet And Health

Consumers continue to expand their awareness of the impact their food and beverage choices have on both their own bodies and our planet. Food and beverage companies are responding to this trend by reformulating their products to incorporate healthier and more sustainable ingredients. This includes using organic foods, reducing the use of artificial additives and preservatives, sourcing ingredients locally or from sustainable suppliers, and adopting environmentally friendly packaging.

These 7 companies are committed to making food and beverage products that people love, and also are better for us and our world: Magic Spoon, Mosh, Chomps, Over Easy, B.T.R. Nation, Rootless, and Táche.

 
1. Magic Spoon

Magic Spoon is committed to bringing back the flavors and joys of our favorite childhood breakfast cereals and treats, while upgrading the experience for today’s health-minded consumers. All products are high in protein and low in sugar. Flavors include fruity, cocoa, birthday cake, blueberry muffin, peanut butter, frosted, cinnamon roll and chocolate chip cookie. In 2023, the brand launched its wildly popular Magic Spoon Treats, crispy bars based on their breakfast cereals.

Cofounders Greg Sewitz and Gabi Lewis met during college and launched Magic Spoon in 2019. They began the business as direct-to-consumer, successfully acquiring over a million customers with their savvy online strategy before expanding into retail. They have since moved onto Amazon as well as into Target, Walmart, Albertsons/Safeway, Sprouts and other stores. And they have raised over $100 million in funding with celebrity investors including Shakira, Halsey, The Chainsmokers, Amy Schumer, and Odell Beckham Jr.

Prior to cofounding Magic Spoon, Gabi Lewis cofounded Exo, the company that pioneered insect protein as a sustainable food source. “There were a couple things I knew for certain when I was young: that I had a lot of ideas, and that I loved food,” he said in an exclusive interview with me. “I was fueled by travel, trying new foods, meeting new people and trying new things. As I got a bit older, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur in the food space and make something that fueled people – in a way that no one had done yet.”

One of the hardest things of running a venture-backed business, Lewis says, is that you always have to be growing and improving and thinking of the next step. But that's also what he finds rewarding about it. “With Magic Spoon, I knew we had a good idea and a solid foundation for a business. It has been wild to watch people get excited about the product we created!”

Now, Lewis appreciates the value of building a strong team. “You can have a brilliant idea for a product, but it will only be as strong as the people behind it,” he cautions. “There will always be long work hours, challenging conversations, and hurdles to jump through when it comes to building something meaningful, but knowing that I come into the office to work with such great thought partners is immensely rewarding.”

One of Magic Spoon’s company values is, “Don’t be afraid to spill a little milk,” which is an obvious cereal reference. Lewis also feels it is a good mentality to live by, especially when thinking about embarking on something new. “You have to be willing to take a risk. If you have a big idea, it’s probably worth doing, even if a little milk is spilled along the way. A lot of growth comes from making mistakes and handling the unexpected.”

 
2. Mosh

Maria Shriver and Patrick Schwarzenegger are the mother-son duo behind MOSH, which makes no added sugar protein bars boosted with seven brain health-enhancing nutrients. When launched during Covid, the brand sold out of six months worth of product within the first week. Not only are the bars beneficial to your health, but proceeds from each purchase are donated to the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, the non-profit Shriver founded to help fund gender-based brain health research.

“Everyone can be an architect of change and move humanity forward, especially when it comes women’s health and brain health,” said Shriver in an exclusive interview with me. “Whether it’s the content we consume about these topics, the medical research being done, or the food that we eat to take care of ourselves — my life’s work is fueled by a clear purpose: stories can change lives. For me, MOSH is the manifestation of a lifetime of advocacy and journalism. I’ve traveled up and down the country listening to people tell me their stories, tell me where and how they need help.”

Shriver became involved in Alzheimer’s after her father was diagnosed with the disease in 2003. In 2010, she discovered that two-thirds of all Alzheimer’s patients are women. Shortly thereafter, she founded the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM).

In 2023, Shriver took her concerns about women’s health research to First Lady Jill Biden, which led to the first-ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research. “Our goal is to fundamentally transform how the federal government approaches and funds women’s health research, and usher in the next generation of discoveries in women’s health so that women will be armed with the research they need to live and age in good health,” Shriver says.

MOSH makes it easy for brain health to be top of mind for everyone who needs a snack on the go, Shriver points out. The company’s goals is to make products that are good for your brain and also fund brain health research and help find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

To aspiring entrepreneurs, Shriver offers this advice: “Bet on yourself. And just keep going. There will be days when you think it’s over. When you think you don’t have the money, you don’t have the supplies, you don’t have the team, and you just have to get up and do it again the next day. It hasn’t gotten easier, but I have a very clear vision, as does everybody on the team. I’m so lucky and grateful that my son did this with me. I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own.”

 
3. Chomps

Chomps makes better for you and the planet beef, turkey and venison jerky sticks with no added sugar or harmful chemicals. Bootstrapped with just $6,500 a little over a decade ago, the company accepted outside capital for the first time in January 2022 – an $80 million minority investment from private equity firm Stride Consumer Partners.

The primary reason why cofounders Pete Maldonado and Rashid Ali took on venture capital financing is because of their desire to promote regenerative agriculture – one of the most popular food and beverage trends of the past five years. Chomps sources its beef and venison solely from farmers who practice regenerative agriculture methods such as rotational grazing.

“Health and wellness have been important pillars of my life for many years,” said Maldonado in an exclusive interview with me. “In high school, I was heavily involved in sports, which led me to weightlifting and eventually to personal training. I saw firsthand how my busy clients struggled to stick to their nutrition plans when there were limited grab-and-go options available.”

Maldonado started Chomps as a side hustle after filing for bankruptcy at the tender age of 27. In one of the greatest challenges he has faced in his life, he found himself millions of dollars in debt as a real estate investor when the housing market crashed in 2008. So, he went back to personal training. And it was this work with clients that inspired him to found Chomps.

The company quickly evolved into Maldonado’s life purpose, however, when he became a father. “As a parent, I realized the importance of giving our children the food they need to fuel their bodies. I saw how major food manufacturers market products meant for kids by slapping cute cartoon characters and healthy-sounding buzzwords on the labels, when in fact these products are loaded with hidden, harmful ingredients. It was then my conviction with Chomps truly came to fruition, and I made it my mission to change the way people snack,” he says.

The number one piece of advice Maldonado has for aspiring entrepreneurs is to lose the ego. “You don’t know everything, and you’re never going to know everything. You should push yourself to learn something new every day. If you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing. Surround yourself with people who are more experienced than you, who specialize in areas where you lack knowledge, or who have made costly mistakes that you can learn from. It’s a blessing and an advantage to get to learn from other’s ‘scar tissue’ rather than suffer through the trial-and-error yourself,” he says.

 
4. Over Easy

Over Easy makes simple, nutritious, and better-for-you breakfast bars in four morning-inspired flavors – apple cinnamon, banana nut, peanut butter, and vanilla matcha. Simple ingredients include organic oats, nut butter, and cage-free egg whites. The bars are currently sold on Amazon and at retailers including Whole Foods, as well as online.

Kyle Maggard is the CEO and founder of Over Easy. A West Point graduate, former Army captain, and father, he started creating breakfast bar recipes in his kitchen in 2018 while an MBA student at Harvard Business School because he was tired of the dense protein bars he relied on in the military and frustrated that most convenient breakfast foods were packed with sugar. He also knew that nearly 75% of consumers now snack in the morning, as opposed to sitting down for a meal.

“My life purpose is to build and lead impactful organizations that help people have healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives – and I’m starting by making them breakfast!” Maggard said in an exclusive interview with me. “West Point undeniably shaped my mindset, which is that leadership and service come before self. When you’re around so many selfless and wonderful individuals in the military, the idea of serving a higher calling becomes a necessity.”

The greatest challenge Maggard has faced in building a startup is the uncertainty for his family. “Before that, I was fortunate enough to have a stable, well-paying career. I’ve found my purpose with Over Easy, but my family has given up a lot for it in the short term,” he says.

That said, Maggard is grateful for the unity he feels with his life purpose in running Over Easy. “When your purpose becomes your identity, it’s beyond liberating,” he says. “You no longer have two sides of your life – personal and professional. They become one.”

Maggard says that people shouldn’t expect their life purpose to fall into their lap. “You have to go out there and find it,” he advises. “Sure, some people knew they wanted to be a doctor or artist from the time they were a kid, but it doesn't come that easy for the vast majority of us. It takes a lot of self-reflection, research, and trial and error. And even when you do find it, it can be daunting to take that leap of faith. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never second-guessed my decision to leave Harvard, especially early on. But life is short, and it’d be a shame if you never gave yourself the chance to be who you were truly meant to be.”

 
5. B.T.R. Nation

B.T.R. Nation creates high protein, low sugar bars and chocolate snacks that are vegan, gluten-free, and free from harmful chemical additives. CEO Ashley Nickelsen was inspired to start the company as a tribute to her parents, both of whom passed away from rare forms of cancer. B.T.R. stands for their mantra: “Be bold, tenacious and resilient.”

“When my parents were sick and undergoing cancer treatments, I was their primary caretaker,” said Nickelsen in an exclusive interview with me. “We spent over four years living in hospitals, eating junk out of hospital vending machines and cafeterias – foods that were high in sugar and filled with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Everything I do is about helping fix our broken food system. I'm on a mission to reimagine the on-the-go snacking world. B.T.R. Nation is the vessel for my life purpose.”

B.T.R. Nation is a tribute to Nickelsen’s parents. “Day in and day out, it helps me stay connected to them and pass on their legacy. It's been years, yet I still feel this massive hole in my heart. Running this company and being able to speak about them gives me some sense of peace, knowing they would be proud of what I'm doing,” she says

Nickelsen advises aspiring entrepreneurs to always come back to your why. “Everyone says building a business isn't easy. Constant problems to solve. Constant questions to answer. A constant need to grow and evolve for your community,” she explains. “When you’re fundamentally rooted in your why, nothing can stop you. Know your why and communicate that with the world. People want to know.”

 
6. Rootless

Rootless makes daily seaweed bites designed to help balance hormones, relieve chronic gut issues and combat chronic fatigue. Aside from being high in hormone-balancing and gut-healthy nutrients, seaweed is one of the most beneficial plants for the environment. It actually sequesters CO2 from the environment, improves water quality, and provides food and a haven for marine animals. And it can be sustainably cultivated.

Founder and CEO Sachi Singh has spent 13 years working on international climate and oceans issues before founding Rootless. “Seaweed was the first thing that made me feel like there was hope - hope for a healthier, more sustainable food and farming system that was a win for people and the planet,” she said in an exclusive interview with me. She started Rootless as a way to get more people to eat and grow sustainable seaweed.

Building a new company that is innovating across the value chain (first-of-its-kind product, setting up a truly regenerative seaweed supply chain, telling a “new” health story) is full of daily challenges, Singh says. Nevertheless, at the start of 2024, Rootless broke their supply chain and ran out of seaweed across the U.S. They were able to spin up not one but two seaweed supply chains, including an international one, in just two months.

To aspiring entrepreneurs, Signh advises, “This experience, and many others over the last 3.5 years, has taught me that any hard or soft skill is learnable. I did not come into this job with any experience in CPG, fundraising, startups, operations or food. So don’t let your ‘lack of experience or qualifications’ stop you from building your dream company. Everything is learnable! Put your head down and just build!”

 
7. Táche

Táche makes pistachio milk and latte products that incorporate the milk. Pistachios require significantly less water to grow than do almonds, resulting in a lower environmental footprint. Pistachio milk, unlike oat milk, is also free from oils, making it better for your body. Plus the milk tastes delicious.

Growing up in an Iranian-American home, Táche founder Roxana Saidi says, “Pistachios were always on our table.” The idea for Táche came about during a leisurely family lunch. Recently, the company launched a pistachio milk latte because, Saidi says, she “wanted to emulate the sips I’d steal of my mom’s cappuccinos as a little girl.” She spent two years perfecting the flavor, creaminess, and coffee strength.

The greatest challenge Saidi has faced has been becoming a mother while also running a company. “This has also been the most rewarding experience!” she says. “Since welcoming our daughter, I’ve learned the true meaning of multitasking. Motherhood, much like starting a business, teaches you to adapt and try new angles. I also have a newfound resilience for no.”

To aspiring entrepreneurs, Saidi will happily offer her advice. During the pandemic, she began holding open office hours for aspiring entrepreneurs, existing founders, and peers looking to flesh out ideas. “They’re just as much inspiring to me as (I hope) they’re helpful to others, so sign up for my office hours and let’s chat!” she says.


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