Today’s complex ecosystem of food production is a creativity boon. Household names are diversifying their portfolio with modern solutions alongside food tech startups crafting entirely new market sectors.
And despite the toll of Covid-19 pandemic conditions on the food industry, many companies continue to push forward, any way they can.
Even in the early stages of its recovery, the global market for food tech was valued at $233.6 billion in 2021, according to market research firm Growth Market Reports. Slowly but surely, the firm forecasts a compound annual growth rate of nearly 6 percent.
Here’s a list of companies helping to actualize a comeback through products and platforms that merge diners, distributors and developers.
Top Food Companies
- Nature’s Fynd
24 Top Food Companies
As one of the biggest companies in the food and beverage industry, The Kraft Heinz Company is a household name for iconic American comfort foods. But beyond ketchup and mac and cheese, the company is also deeply invested in food tech, building and using a neural network that supports the global manufacture, processing and marketing of food and beverages.
Wonders is a tech platform for independent restaurants that provides everything on the admin side of a food and beverage business: phone and online orders, staffing support, payment processing and marketing. Its mission is to allow local restaurants to operate with the same efficiencies of scale that large chains have access to, and it boasts operating cost reductions and sales increases across its client base.
Aromyx is a biotech company applying sensory science to consumer insight research. In place of purchasing behavior, Aromyx is building a quantitative system that measures crowd favorite tastes and smells to craft a precisely curated shopping experience. To do this, Aromyx combines lab screening and analysis with questionnaires to predict a target audience’s reaction to a specified product, spanning from food, beverage and beauty to pharmaceuticals.
Creator is a San Francisco startup that has developed and programmed a culinary robot to serve up gourmet, made-to-order burgers — no human intervention necessary. It slices and toasts brioche buns, freshly grates and melts cheese, grills the antibiotic-free beef and applies selected sauces and seasonings. In five minutes, this 14-foot robot uses 350 sensors and 20 computers to complete an order, at a 130 burgers-per-hour rate.
Evoware is a sustainable packaging company that’s rethinking plastic with its biodegradable, seaweed-based packaging solutions. This raw material is not only home compostable, but edible. Replete with fiber, vitamins and minerals, its sachets and cups double as a nutritional snack, so you can order a parcel and eat it too. Cassava, rice, sugarcane, bamboo, birchwood and palm tree leaves are also featured in Evoware’s product line.
Launched out of MIT, Fyto is an agricultural tech company developing nutrient-dense crops to assist farmers and aid long-term sustainability. Its proprietary software system automates year-round production of lemna, a protein-rich, aquatic duckweed, as an alternative additive to livestock fodder, plant-based products, biofertilizers and soil amendments. Fyto’s “superplants” generate a smaller carbon footprint as well as a protein-per-acre yield 10 to 20 times higher with five to 10 times less water required of conventional feed ingredients, as reported by online outlet Agfunder News.
Goldbelly is an online delivery platform that ships “iconic” dishes from renowned specialty restaurants to diners’ doorsteps. These meals are typically discovered through viral social media trends or become regionally well known on their own accord. Unlike Postmates or Uber Eats, diners are not limited by their location. Instead, Goldbelly’s platform makes it possible to taste legendary dishes by artisanal eateries from anywhere in the United States for the right price. According to Eater, featured meals kits can range anywhere from $60 to $130, with price points as high as $400.
InKind is a fintech company reimagining how restaurants are funded through its novel, circular investment model that takes the shape of an app-enabled loyalty program. After buying food and beverage credits upfront, inKind then repackages these credits as gift vouchers sold to customers through an app. So, while restaurant operators maintain full ownership of their establishment and cash up front, diners can explore in-network restaurants and earn bonuses — up to $2,000 — on every purchase. After breaking ground in Austin, Texas, inKind told Built In that diners using the app spend 80 percent more per visit and return 2.5 times as often.
King’s Hawaiian, a family-owned company best known for its sweet bread dinner rolls, is tackling tech innovation with a QR-code embedded augmented reality experience at their store displays. Once scanned, customers enter the “Say Aloha to Flavortown” scavenger hunt, starring restaurateur Guy Fieri, to collect points around the store that may add up to a culinary trip to Hawaii.
Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, Klim is an agricultural tech company using its smartphone app as a way to help food producers practice regenerative farming methods. This is a rehabilitative approach to agriculture that actively removes carbon from the atmosphere using readily available techniques from its arsenal of climate-reversing tactics. Farmers can archive their progress on Klim’s platform to earn revenue payouts over the course of their transition away from conventional methods.
Based in Hamburg, Germany, MicroHarvest is a biotech startup producing protein alternatives from tanks of bacteria. According to its website, these microbes outpace current protein-production methods — with a one-day cycle completion from single-cell, raw materials to final product — and contain over 60 percent protein.
Mouth is an online marketplace curating a menu of specialty food finds collected from indie distributors. This Brooklyn startup sells single items, small batches and subscriptions of eccentric, edible treats, from chocolate covered pumpkin seeds to pickle-themed gift boxes.
Nature’s Fynd is a food tech company that develops microbe-based proteins for meat and dairy substitutes, including its meatless breakfast patties and dairy-free cream cheese. Inspired by a NASA-funded study of extremophiles, which documented microorganisms that live in extreme environments like Yellowstone National Park’s volcanic springs, the company has developed a fermentation process that grows a fungal protein using minimal resources, according to its website.
In an effort to reduce food waste, Korean food tech company Nuvilab developed an app-accessible digital scanner backed by artificial intelligence and big data. Whether implemented for personal health care usage or as a tool for cafeteria management, the real-time food scanner lifts data from a single image to calculate the serving size and caloric value of a plate.
Provi is an online marketplace of wholesale alcohol designed to serve all three tiers of the supply chain: suppliers, distributors and buyers. In 2021, the company launched two new features as part of its e-commerce toolkit: Sell Sheets, a curated, click-to-order list of new and relevant products for sales reps, and Storefronts, a configurable landing page that dedicates a space for distributors within the Provi platform. Recent partnerships with online marketplace SevenFifty and alcohol distributor Johnson Brothers have significantly expanded its catalog, further establishing Provi as an all-in-one destination site.
Restaurant Brands International is one of the largest fast food operators in the world, with more than $35 billion in annual sales and over 29,000 locations in 100 different countries, according to its website. A tech team based out of Miami, Toronto and Swiss city Zug has been leading innovation at the umbrella company of Burger King, Canadian coffee chain Tim Horton and Popeyes, rolling out more than 40,000 digital, drive-through menu boards with “predictive selling” features and loyalty program integration.
Restaurant365 offers software as a service in its cloud-based enterprise management platform that centralizes accounting and back-office operations for restaurants. In one place, companies can schedule labor, calculate inventory in real time, auto-update costs and even keep track of recipes. The company has recently rolled out a digital, mobile-first manager logbook to optimize shift-to-shift communications and R365 Payments, a fully integrated accounts payable automation solution.
Household electronics brand Samsung launched a line of AI-enhanced cooking appliances this year, namely its Bespoke AI Oven. This smart oven uses cooking presets and an internal camera that monitors a dish, preventing burns or even housefires by sending push notifications to the chef. Users’ can also use its image recognition technology to add variation to their diets, which analyzes menu history in order to suggest new recipes made up of frequently used ingredients in a cook’s repertoire.
Season is a digital food pharmacy reframing food as medicine. The platform connects users with tools to assist in their health goals, including one-on-one meetings with a registered dietician, thousands of chef-designed recipes, pre-made meals and a dashboard to track progress. Currently, its preset menus cater to diabetic or pregnant diets.
Solar Foods is a biotech company that produces a nutrient-dense protein product, Solein, from air and electricity. Splitting hydrogen from oxygen, the company’s bioprocess consists of a fermentation practice that feeds a single-cell microorganism with renewable energy until it multiplies into a functional protein powder.
Solynta is a Dutch biotech company making high-speed, hybrid potato breeding possible as part of a global solution to food and nutritional insecurity. According to its website, the company is structured around four United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: “zero hunger,” “good health and wellbeing,” “decent work and economic growth” and “climate action.” Solytna’s bioengineering develops climate-change resistant and disease-repellent crops at high yields and three times the speed. These hybrid “true seeds,” as the company calls them, have the ability to be produced in one season, versus a five-year cycle of traditional seed tubers.
Too Good To Go offers an app where businesses sell their surplus supply to shoppers looking for a discount in an effort to combat food waste. Users select an assortment of local establishments, and collect a mystery bag of goodies during a preset collection window. According to the company’s website, 179,400 eateries are connecting 72 million people to treats, meals and groceries that would have otherwise been tossed away.
Meat production company Vow is creating a new food category using molecular-level biotech. “In a matter of weeks,” its website says, “we go from a handful of cells to an abundance of delicious, nutritious and sustainable meat.” The Wales-based team of engineers and scientists place cellular animal biopsies in a nutrient-dense, climate-controlled cultivator, manipulating flavor, texture and aroma before it multiplies into a final product. The company’s unique approach to food processing aims to optimize nutrition, minimize animal cruelty, replete resources and feed populations at scale.
San Francisco Bay Area food tech startup Umaro Foods has made a plant-based bacon from ocean-farmed seaweed. A proven superfood, the red seaweed used in the proprietary recipe contains hydrocolloids that mimic bacon fat and a savory, meat-like umami flavor.