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20 Food and Beverage Startups 2021

They might not grab headlines like SaaS startups, consumer tech companies, or e-commerce juggernauts.

But food and beverage startups are every bit as creative and exciting.

By leveraging technology, these startups have created new markets in everything from gourmet delicacies to time-saving food delivery services.

Discover some of the hottest startups in the food and beverage space below.

1. Mouth.com

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5-year search growth: -18%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2012

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Funding: $8.4M (Series A)

What they do: Mouth can be considered a crossover between Etsy and Goldbelly. In other words, they serve up crowdsourced, homemade foods ranging from cheese to chocolate. Mouth also offers subscription boxes to customers who can’t get enough of their gourmet gifts.

Customers have three choices: curated gift boxes made by Mouth, subscription boxes with treats (like craft pickles), or building your own gift box with handpicked elements.

2. Goldbelly

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5-year search growth: 1950%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2012

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $133.1M (Series C)

What they do: As a heavy display marketer and retargeting advertiser, users might be familiar with Goldbelly from popular social platforms. Goldbelly’s business model is simple: ship iconic dishes from famous restaurants around the U.S. directly to your doorstep.

Lobster Rolls from Maine’s finest, Philly Cheesesteaks from Philadelphia, bagels from Brooklyn. Goldbelly scouts for the most popular joints and then offer up their most popular menu item to hungry consumers.

With over $100M in funding, investors seem to love their careful curation and food offerings.

3. Flaviar

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5-year search growth: 262%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2012

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $5.7M (Venture Round)

What they do: Not surprisingly, alcohol sales skyrocketed over the pandemic. Flaviar emerged as a spirits club allowing members to try a range of different liquors. Through their subscription service, members are able to try expensive liquors that might normally be too pricey to buy without tasting first.

4. Remedy Organics

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5-year search growth: 3800%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Funding: N/A

What they do: One of ten companies that PepsiCo sees as the future of food and beverage, NJ-based Remedy makes plant based juices and smoothies that are packed with popular ingredients like cocoa, MCT oil, dates and more. Sleek packaging and thoughtful, focused product lines also helps drive Remedy’s growing market share.

5. Sophie’s Kitchen

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5-year search growth: 618%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2010

Location: Sebastopol, California

Funding: N/A

What they do: Sophie’s Kitchen makes vegan seafood alternatives. Their hits include shrimp, crab cakes, fish fillets, and smoked salmon. As one of the few vegan seafood companies to hit the major supermarkets, Sophie’s has something of a first mover advantage in the space.

6. WildWay

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5-year search growth: 300%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2014

Location: San Antonio, Texas

Funding: N/A

What they do: Wildway takes pride in their all-natural, good-for-you range of snacks. They’ve kept their product line lean so far, focusing on Keto Hot Cereal, Snack Mixes, and Grain-Free Granola as their signature products.

Wildway’s been featured in major publications like Women’s Health and Paleo Magazine.

7. Creator

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5-year search growth: 53%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2009

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $18.4M (Venture Round)

What they do: Creator out of SF has come up with an entirely new concept: preparing customized burgers cooked by a proprietary robot. Creator’s machine handles every step of the burger creating process. The bread is sliced to order, cheese is grated directly onto the bun before melting, and patties are carefully seasoned.

Taking humans out of the equation has allowed Creator to pour most of their budget into food. Which has resulted in quality burgers at affordable prices.

8. Brewbird

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5-year search growth: 1800%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: San Mateo, California

Funding: N/A

What they do: Brewbird is aiming to build a technology platform that “scales the specialty coffee experience”, providing a marketplace for entrepreneurial roasters to sell their coffee through Brewbird.

Brewbird’s signature product is a single-serve coffee brewer that uses whole bean pods. Through Brewbird’s marketplace, the independent coffee roaster will be able to sell their prized product in a single-serve format. Single-serve coffee is an enormous market. As of 2019, 42% of Americans own a single-serve coffee machine.

9. YoFiit

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5-year search growth: 0%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Toronto, Canada

Funding: $20K (Grant)

What they do: YoFiit is behind the chickpea alternative to milk. Like other companies on our list, YoFiit has a plant-fueled mission to make the world healthier and more reliant on plants than animals. Another one of PepsiCo’s top startup choices, YoFiit is entrenched in one of the fastest-growing food and beverage categories, dairy alternatives.

10. Hapi Drinks

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5-year search growth: 0%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2011

Location: Austin, Texas

Funding: $2.4M (Venture Round)

What they do: Hapi Drinks is targeting one of America’s greatest health dangers: childhood obesity. The CDC estimates the prevalence of obesity in children is around 19.3%. Hapi Drinks noticed the problem and their solution is a line of sugar-free drinks with flavors comparable to a Capri Sun or Sunny Delight.

Instead of simply making the drinks sugar-free and leaving it there, Hapi also loads their drinks with Vitamin C (around 90% daily value) and uses only all-natural ingredients.

11. Rule Breaker

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5-year search growth: 183%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Funding: N/A

What they do: Rule Breaker is a twist on the classic cookie and brownie. Instead of dairy-packed, gluten-rich sweet treats, Rule Breaker has rolled out a line of vegan treats that are also gluten-free. For every bag of Rule Breaker Bites purchased, one is donated to a food bank to help with food insecurity.

Rule Breaker was also featured on Shark Tank, the Today Show, and numerous mainstream publications.

12. Pared

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5-year search growth: 57%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $13.7M (Series B)

What they do: Pared is a matching network that pairs food and beverage workers with restaurants that need assistance. The company is a resource for both chefs that needs staff and food workers that need jobs.

Billing itself as a sort of Linkedin for the food and beverage industry, Pared lets users build a comprehensive profile that highlights work history and experiences, industry connections and recommendations, and relevant content and industry job openings.

13. Instacart

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5-year search growth: 1000%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2012

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $2.7B (Venture Round)

What they do: Perhaps the most well-known food and beverage startup on our list, Instacart is one of the original grocery delivery applications. Instacart has raised a mammoth $2.7B in funding, which allowed them to make several strategic acquisitions as they continue to evolve.

Instacart has expanded from simply offering groceries to offering delivery from many major retailers like Petco, Rite Aid, and even Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

14. Cornershop

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5-year search growth: 3000%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Las Condes, Chile

Funding: $31.7M (Series B)

What they do: Cornershop, recently acquired by Uber, is an on-demand grocery service for the Latin American market. Currently active in Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Canada, Cornershop users can leave customized requests for their shoppers and enjoy speedy delivery on the fly.

15. Bevi

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5-year search growth: -20%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2013

Location: Boston, Mass

Funding: $60.1M (Series C)

What they do: Bevi is a beverage startup. They’ve created the Bevi Bottleless Water Dispensers, which are essentially commercial grade office ready smart dispensers for sparkling (or plain) water in the office.

Dispensing is done entirely through a smartphone app with no touching of dirty screens required. Bevi has smart internet monitoring to make sure flavor supplies remain stocked and alert the office manager when anything is wrong with it.

A large Series C round means that Bevi can get a headstart on modernizing the outdated office vending machine and water fountains, and make them relics of the past.

16. RightRice

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5-year search growth: 99X+

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $5.5M (Venture Round)

What they do: Rice is one of the most popular foods in the world, so naturally, it’s a ripe area for disruption. RightRice out of California has developed a rice alternative that is created purely from vegetables. Boasting a product that has twice the protein, five times the fiber, and significantly fewer carbs, RightRice has tackled one of the most prevalent and easy-to-cook meals that exist.

17. Thistle

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5-year search growth: 55%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2013

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $17M (Series B)

What they do: Thistle is a DTC subscription offering healthy salads and vegan or vegetarian options. With a similar business model to Freshly and other meal delivery providers, Thistle has taken the angle of being the healthy go-to choice in the marketplace.

In addition to their healthy meal offerings, Thistle also makes their own cold-pressed juices that can be added to a meal plan or delivered individually.

18. Freshly

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5-year search growth: 233%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2012

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $107M (Series C)

What they do: Freshly’s motto is “heat-and-eat in 3 minutes or less”. They serve up freshly prepared meals direct-to-consumer, offering a subscription plan with clear pricing per meal so consumers know how much they’re paying. Acquired by Nestle in late 2020, Freshly has remained independent and continues to serve up artisan dishes like homestyle mac and cheese with fried chicken, or blade steaks served alongside risotto.

19. Bohana

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5-year search growth: 1100%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Funding: N/A

What they do: Bohana’s entire business is built around one ingredient and one product: the popped water lily seed. One of the recent top health food trends across the country, water lily seeds are native to Asia and are considered a superfood.

Bohana capitalized on this barely known seed and turned it into a healthy alternative to popcorn.

20. Cozymeal

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5-year search growth: 292%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: N/A

What they do: Cozymeal has dug out a niche in the food and beverage space by providing a marketplace that matches local chefs with teams or individuals who are looking for memorable cooking classes. Users can choose which city they want to take a class in, what kind of dish (risotto or Spanish tapas or sushi) they want to learn how to cook, and then book.

During the pandemic, Cozymeal pivoted to offering select cooking classes online. Everything from mixology to whisky tasting is still on offer for company team-building activities or the individual connoisseur.

Conclusion

The future looks bright in the food and beverage space, with these startups going a long way to proving how tech can be combined with traditional space to create spectacular results.

Food delivery, sourcing world-class dishes and shipping everything direct to doorsteps are just a few examples of what is sure to be a booming sector moving forward.

Last Updated: 
June 10, 2021
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.

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