Brands and Apps that are Revolutionizing the Food Industry
As a social enterprise with specialties in food branding, food packaging, and food marketing, we’re always seeking out new companies that represent “best of” for their creative efforts to address social and environmental problems through our food system.
Here are three new food companies we’re watching, social enterprises that are providing public benefits ranging from health to sustainability to social justice:
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Everytable is a social enterprise that launched in Los Angeles last month with a grab-and-go storefront concept that provides an alternative to traditional fast food by offering healthy food, fast.
What’s really interesting to us is the startup’s revenue model.
Everytable diverges from fast food and other retailers of healthy food by using a variable-price model for its meals that reflects the economics of the community in which they are located. In a “food desert,” a neighborhood where there’s limited access to healthy, affordable food, meals are priced lower than they are in higher-income communities. For instance, most meals in South Los Angeles are priced below $4, while the same meal in downtown Los Angeles would be offered at $8 (still reasonable compared to other similar options).
The meals are made from scratch each day and inspired by traditional cuisine of the local community. All healthy, all tasty, we’re told—with meals ranging from Vietnamese Chicken Salad to Jamaican Jerk Chicken.
This model intrigues us and we’re looking forward to following Everytable’s progress—and now, two hours away from lunch, we’re also quite hungry. Thanks a lot, Everytable!
You can read a Change Maker interview with Everytable Co-Founder Sam Polk here.
Learn more at everytable.com.
Hey, Food Cowboy—we want to be part of your Food Posse.
Food Cowboy first caught our eye on social media for its cool brand, great design, and socially inspiring messages.
That did exactly what it was supposed to do—it got us to click through for more information, and the more we learned, the more we fell in love with Food Cowboy and its mobile technology.
Here’s the problem Food Cowboy is working to solve: The commercial food industry wastes more food in 19 days than it donates to food banks over the course of an entire year.
Food Cowboy sees this as a thorny logistics problem in our supply chain. It developed the Food Cowboy app, which uses location-based technology to re-route food that otherwise would be wasted. It connects food distributors and retailers with charities such as churches and food banks, using slick technology that enables food producers to avoid extra transportation costs.
How it works: A trucker has produce that’s been rejected by an account as having the wrong color, being awkwardly shaped – ugly. He posts to the app on his phone and then receives alerts from food banks along his route that are only too happy to take the produce.
Food producers who donate the unwanted or “ugly” produce get a tax deduction, while Food Cowboy receives a 15 percent commission on the value of the donation.
The innovative social enterprise isn’t stopping there; Food Cowboy recently launched the No Waste Promise Alliance and Food Waste Innovation fund, with the intention to raise and invest up to $75 million each year in public and private sector solutions to food waste.
To which we say: Giddyup.
You can learn more at Food Cowboy.
Founders Penny McBride and Nona Yehia started Vertical Harvest to provide locally grown produce in Jackson, Wyoming. What’s interesting is the design of the farm—it’s a vertical greenhouse that employs people with developmental disabilities.
The greenhouse is a beautiful piece of architecture, a three-story, custom-built greenhouse using a stacked design that makes optimal use of precious (and uber-expensive) downtown Jackson real estate. The greenhouse occupies 1/10th of an acre, but can grow the equivalent produce of five acres farmed traditionally. Expected annual yield for the farm is 100,000 pounds of produce.
McBride and Yahia had to get creative in their approach to raising capital for their social enterprise. They devised a public-private funding model that would fund construction and support the public benefit it was creating. They successfully negotiated a thorny political process by engaging their critics rather than dismissing them, turning adversaries into advocates. In all, they raised $3.8 million in funding from both public and private sources. The City of Jackson owns the land and the building, which Vertical Harvest rents for just $100 a month.
As a return on investment, the citizens of Jackson can now eat year-round fresh, organic produce that’s grown right in town, not trucked in, eliminating considerable fuel consumption in the process. And then there’s the economic development and job creation piece where 15 Jackson citizens with developmental disabilities now have jobs and paychecks.
You can read our Change Maker interview with Penny McBride here.
Learn more at Vertical Harvest.
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Their food isn't healthier. It's not cheaper. So what's the difference?
A brand and packaging project for a product that's deep, down good (for you).