Industry Insights · 13min read

10 Sustainable Brands to Watch in the Food Manufacturing & Distribution Space

From plant-based alternatives to sun-powered proteins, low-impact packaging to resource-efficient production and beyond.

While sustainability initiatives take on many different shapes and forms, consumers increasingly demand that it be less the exception and more the norm. Recent studies have shown that over 50% of consumers will choose products labelled with a sustainability claim, such as “sustainably sourced”, over their unlabelled counterparts. 

Although certifications like organic and Fairtrade are important, sustainability goes far beyond the origins of and agricultural practices behind specific foods in food manufacturing and distribution. Every step of the supply chain – from production to distribution, packaging and consumption – is now being scrutinised and therefore revolutionised. 

As such, existing and emerging companies alike are finding exciting new ways to tackle topics like climate change mitigation, natural resource conservation, resource efficiency, animal welfare, waste mitigation and control, and more. Below, we look at ten companies in the food manufacturing and distribution space facing up to these challenges with innovative products and practices.

AB InBev | Ambitious goals & blockchain technology for better beer

supply chain transparency • smart agriculture  • water & energy efficiency •  circular economy  • CO2 reduction

Belgium-based distributor Anheuser Busch InBev is pioneering the use of blockchain technology for end-to-end supply chain sustainability in the beer industry. Holistic grain-to-glass efforts include smart agriculture initiatives to improve growers’ yields and improve soil health, water stewardship to improve water availability, circular packaging to reduce the impact of waste on the environment, and energy efficiency as well as a transition to renewable energy to reduce CO2 emissions across the entire value chain. 

Thirsty for quality over quantity? Tap into better beer here.
 

Cubiq Foods | Cell-based foods

healthy lifestyles • scalable solutions • animal-free cell cultures

Industrial food producers at the ready – Cubiq Foods’s registered trademark cell-cultures are paving the way for more sustainable processed foods and nutraceuticals. Go!Drop® is a healthy fat which is low in saturated fats and made from an emulsion of vegetable oil and water. Go!Mega3® is a micro-encapsulated Omega-3 enriched algae oil.

Craving heart-healthy alternatives? Head straight to the forefront of food-tech.
 

Happy Ocean Foods | Seafood made from vegetables

mitigate overfishing • transparent food production • plant-based alternative

Happy Ocean Foods’s signature Shrymp are made from a unique combination of soybeans, agave syrup, brown algae and sea salt. Their 100% plant-based substitute is pollutant-free and cruelty-free as well as sustainably produced. Most importantly, perhaps, in a time where 60% of the world’s fish populations are in grave danger, and 33% are overfished, Shrymp allows consumers to indulge in the taste of seafood without the dire ecological side-effects of commercial fishing.

Ready to go deep? Dive right in. 

The Hempany | Alternative milk product made from organic hemp seeds

prized superfood • plant-based alternative • regional-focus • CO2-capturing crop 

This German start-up is working to put hemp on the plant-based milk map as a gluten-free, lactose-free, allergen-free and sugar-free alternative, both to conventional milk as well as other plant-based milk drinks. The Hempany elevates itself from its almond and soy counterparts on the market with two key USPs – hemp can be cultivated as a crop regionally in Germany and can bind up to twice as much CO2 as many trees.

What the hemp? Take a giant sip.
 

Kencko | Freeze-dried smoothies and fruit n’ veg-based treats

healthy lifestyles • natural & organic ingredients • food preservation

From delicious smoothies to irresistible instant bowls and melt-in-your-mouth gumdrops – Kencko transforms organic produce into 100% natural bites for breakfast, lunch and in between. The process of freeze-drying ingredients allows their nutrient profiles to be retained and portioned all year round. With branches in New York, USA and Lisbon, Portugal, Kencko is exploring new ways of bringing more nutrients into consumers' everyday diets on both sides of the Atlantic. In the packaging sphere, the brand is taking initiative and trailing various types of sustainable packaging, including inner boxes made from sugarcane fibre (a by-product from the sugar industry) and smoothie packets made from a compostable, plant-based film. Kenckso has been a certified B-Corp since 2020. 

Need a nutrient boost? Eat more plants.

 

Kriket | Granola & snack bars made from cricket flour

low CO2 footprint • water & waste efficient 

Hailing from Brussels, this innovative brand is a true pioneer in the insect food category. Kriket’s central health claims include high protein and better brain and gut functions than other animal-based foods. On the environmental front, crickets emit fewer greenhouse gasses (GHG) than livestock as well as require less water and feed for propagation. Last but certainly not least, waste is mitigated because all parts of the cricket are edible. 

Fancy a taste? Hop right to it.

KoRo | A more is less approach to online foods

high-quality organic foods • short trade routes • efficient bulk packaging

When it comes to the distribution of foods in the online space, KoRo is making a name for itself by tackling multiple industry challenges simultaneously. The brand's sustainability efforts extend beyond a commitment to organic foods and ingredients. KoRo’s bulk packaging steps up the industry’s environmental game by avoiding unnecessary waste from small-sized packaging altogether while also focusing on minimal labelling. In fact, KoRo does not even rebrand all the products it sells in its online store – in cases where rebranding would require extra or unnecessary steps, the foods are simply sold in the branding their original manufacturers deliver them in.

Want to opt for bigger and better? Here’s your one-stop-shop.

 

Share | Social impact with every bite

combating world hunger • supporting social projects 

As the name already implies, Share’s mission is rooted in social sustainability practices. For every product sold, Share supports a pre-vetted social partner project. Consumers thereby make a contribution to select projects around the globe with every purchase. In that spirit, Share’s food portfolio is specifically designed to help redistribute the food supply and combat world hunger. 

Looking to do more good? Look no further.

 

Solar Foods | Natural protein harnessed by the wind and sun

natural ingredients • low-emission production & consumption

Have you ever considered working with ingredients that were made from thin air? Before discovering Solar Foods, neither had we. The Finnish start-up’s sustainable protein made from natural single-cell organisms, Solein, is set to hit shelves in 2023. In a unique fermentation process, Solar Foods take microbiology to new heights by creating a protein that combines the benefits, taste and nutrients of both animal and plant proteins.

Ready to see what lies beyond the horizon? Take in the technology of tomorrow.

 

Stockeld | Cheese made from legumes

plant-based eating • challenging culinary norms • reduced CO2 footprint

After two years of R&D, Swedish newbie to the block Stockeld recently delivered its very first product to the market: Stockeld Chunk! Guided by the vision of creating a dairy-free cheese that is superior in ecological footprint, taste and nutrition, the team at Stockeld is proud to tackle the task of developing the world’s most (self-proclaimed) ambitious cheese.

Curious to read their mouthwatering story? Indulge your senses.

For further reading on innovative businesses in the food industry, delve into our article featuring 10 Exciting Companies Digitalising the Food Supply Chain or explore 13 Sustainable & Eco-Friendly Food Packaging Solutions.

Imagery: (1), Glenn Carstens Peters, (2) Markus Spiske, (3) Jakub Kapusnak, (4) Fallon Michael & (5) Karsten Wurth via unsplash.com

 

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