Here at the end of a disrupted and disruptive year, we’re looking back with gratitude at some of the good things of the year. Specifically, in this post and following, we’ll be examining some of our favorite discoveries of the year in each of the sectors we serve, in our second annual series on innovative and disruptive brands of the year. Despite a tumultuous year for the food and beverage industry, many brands have carried on doing good work and launching wonderful new products in a year when we can all use some new, delicious things to eat and drink. Read on for a few of our favorite new products of 2020, foods and beverages that are lifting us up a little here at the end of the year.
LOOP is a new brand that saves food products from going to waste to create delicious beverages and other items with a satisfying brand look and feel. By using cosmetically imperfect (but still perfectly good) fruits and vegetables to create their products, the company has already repurposed more than 4,000 tons of fruits and vegetables into cold-pressed juices, beers, and even pet snacks and soaps. We’re particularly excited, though, about their new line of sparkling water kefirs, non-alcoholic fermented beverages that provide a probiotic—and delicious—alternative to conventional sparkling waters. Flavors include ginger lemon, strawberry, and orange clementine. All flavors feature northern plant extracts, a healthy infused water produced during the manufacturing of essential oils that would normally go to waste.
Launched this June, Chubby Organics’ line of ready-to-eat nut-butter and jam sandwiches aims to provide a clean-label, nutritionally dense alternative to mainstream lunch options, without sacrificing convenience and flavor. The company’s fresh-made, individually packaged sandwiches are vegan, non-GMO, and deliver 13 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber each, coming in flavors including blueberry with almond or hazelnut butter and strawberry with almond or sunflower butter. The company has also begun to offer snack bites made from the crusts and butts of their bread as they seek to become a 100% food waste-free brand. Although not yet widely available at retail, the brand has a strong ecommerce presence, including the option to purchase a subscription package so consumers can ensure they are never without a good-for-you lunch option.
Kid-friendly applications with “hidden vegetables” are an established feature of the food industry, but in the midst of a year that has required many parents to balance newly expanded obligations while also looking out for their families’ health, many are looking for new options to keep their kids healthy and happy. Peekaboo Ice Cream + Hidden Veggies is a brand that is newly rising to prominence with an appearance on Shark Tank after more than 10 years of operating as a local brand in the Miami area. Now available at national retailers including Whole Foods, Safeway, and Kroger, as well as for delivery, the brand offers a line of classic flavors with hidden vegetables like spinach, beet, zucchini, and squash. All products are non-GMO, and the brand also offers gluten-free options as well as dairy-free sorbets.
Mezcla Protein Bars are already available nationwide through Walmart after launching on Kickstarter in only February 2020. The brand brings international flavors and attractive marketing to a competitive but often rather unimaginative category. Currently offering three flavors including matcha vanilla, cocoa peanut butter, and chipotle hot chocolate, Mezcla boasts products that are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and soy-free, delivering 10 grams of pea protein as well as other functional ingredients like quinoa and amaranth. The brand also promotes the arts, giving 2 percent of profits to arts organizations across the country and featuring a link to a constantly changing online art gallery on its attractive and art-forward packaging.
Plant-based foods have continued to see growth in 2020 as processing technology improves and consumers seek healthy alternatives. One of the surprising aspects of the pandemic economy, however, has been how the crisis accelerated the market for oat milk, with dollar sales up 212% compared to last year. While drivers for this trend remain somewhat murky, oat milk brands have taken advantage by entering additional markets and launching new products. Our favorite is Oatgurt Natural from Oatly, launched this summer. The plant-based yogurt alternative is produced using gut-healthy fermentation and also offers heart-healthy betaglucans. With Oatly’s established reputation for transparency and sustainability, it’s a yogurt alternative with a lot to love. We look forward to seeing continued iterations of this approach to yogurt, perhaps even one made with the SuperGrain barley.
Are you launching a product that should be on this list? Considering how to disrupt the food industry, or simply how to navigate the ongoing disruptions presented by this year? We’d love to hear about the challenges and opportunities you’re facing at the close of an eventful year—let’s get in touch.