The future of food is happening now: sustainable food systems, ethical beef and cellular agriculture are at the forefront of elevating both the home kitchen and the ethical consumer.
I doubt you would think of ethical manufacturing as the flashiest of taglines. Here are 4 companies at the helm of these trends, blazing the way for innovative food products to get into the mainstream psyche by using smart marketing tactics and product strategies.
1. AeroFarms is Revolutionizing Urban Agriculture
Tagline — “Greens are the hero. Greens are love. Greens are gratitude.”
Proudly deemed the largest vertical farm in the world, AeroFarms is leading the way in optimism for the future of urban agriculture. Based out of Newark, New Jersey, Aerofarms boasts 70,000 square feet in one building alone (the largest of three), filled to the brim with trays upon trays of crops. They repurposed an old building, found a new use for used materials and utilize very little water to grow their plants. Sustainability is their middle name.
Their product strategy has been equally successful. Many vertical farms have yet to be more than a one-trick pony at a conference occupying the lobby of a corporate building or hotel. What Aerofarms has done differently is to diversify where their product is available. Under a different label, named Dream Greens, they sell their crops in local grocery stores. Vertical farming has now become a consumer product of the people, not only meant for fancy restaurants or community organizations.
When asked why someone would purchase Dream Greens, CEO David Rosenberg replied, “Here, we’re growing in the local community. That’s the supply chain difference. But it turns out that we’re able to compete on taste and texture.”¹
AeroFarms places vertical agriculture on the same plane as traditional farming, normalizing the practice and giving the individual the opportunity to contribute to a more sustainable future for just the price of a bag of salad. To further normalize the product, they’ve chosen to focus on the superior taste of their greens and the versatility of greens as an ingredient. They’re selling greens that do more.
2. Eat Cultured Transforms Coffee Flavors With Cellular Agriculture
Tagline — “Breakthrough science. Quality craftsmanship. Exceptional food.”
Fermentation products and workshops have popped up as a food trend in the last few years, but Eat Cultured takes a much more detailed approach than traditional methods. They use carefully chosen microbes to ferment coffee beans, creating a very delicious — and very pricey — cup of coffee. Eat Cultured has improved upon that moment of respite you take at your desk, making coffee less bitter and less acidic.
What sets Eat Cultured apart from other cellular agriculture startups is that they have a packaged product they are ready to send you right now. As other labs try to erase the “animal” in animal products, Eat Cultured takes a different approach and improves upon a daily ritual that is already in the American vernacular. Eat Cultured uses their library of 700+ microorganisms to craft any custom food flavor.
CEO Camille Delebecque remarks, “At the moment, the coffee industry only has two tools to control the flavour: choosing the beans, and roasting. So fermentation is a really powerful third tool.”²
They can even create a brand new taste that you’ve only dreamed possible. Coffee was a smart move. Eat Cultured intentionally chose an already high-priced product market to introduce their luxury bean. Unlike other similar startups, no smoke screen obscures the technology. Their website uses layman-friendly terms to explain how the chemistry behind their high-tech fermentation process transforms normal coffee beans into superior ones.
3. Ripple Claims to be the Crown Jewel of Dairy-Free Milk
Tagline — “Let’s have our milk and drink it, too!”
A yellow pea plant-based milk called Ripple has some of the best marketing in the business. It’s frequently mentioned in online articles. Heavier in protein and less chalky than nut-based competitors, they differentiate themselves by not being afraid of the limelight. They boldly claim to have the closest experience to animal milk you’ll have from a plant-based product.
“I’m a big believer that, particularly in our toxic and broken political environment, business has got to lead the way toward benefits for people and for the planet, and there is no place you can have greater impact than our food system,”³ Co-Founder and CEO Adam Lowry explains about their mission.
Their marketing message pointedly tells the consumer — using phrases like the “butterfly effect” — how one small decision can affect the most change. In Ripple’s case, one person buying a revolutionary plant-based milk can change the world. Their website is littered with pictures of children enjoying Ripple, heralding the consumers choices of the future, implying it isn’t the purchaser who profits most from the milk, but the next generation.
4. Beyond Meat’s Burger Makes a Gigantic Splash in the Mainstream Meat Department
Tagline — “The Future of Protein”
There are a lot of upsides to adopting a plant-based diet, but consumers fear they will be missing out on essential flavors and nutrients found in meat. Beyond Meat steps in both as a solution to beef consumption and fills the void of great tasting, plant-based food. Beyond Meat has won the reputation as tasting as close to the real thing as any other “meat alternative.” But will their patties ever catch on outside the niche health food market?
“It’s a really important step in terms of reframing how we think about meat,” CEO Ethan Brow said in an interview. “We assume that an animal has to be used for meat, and that’s just false.”⁴
Beyond Meat expands into the mainstream market with their Beyond Burger, thanks to a deal with Safeway to position their products in the meat department. Blending a default, meat-centric diet with a more self-conscious one, the move levels the playing field and makes the choice to switch much more inviting. The company makes the product, but they need you to enjoy it and spread the word. Only with the consumer is there a path to a better world — one where you don’t have to choose meat, but something beyond it.
The big question left hanging is, will the mainstream take notice?
We have yet to see the true future of food, but the above companies provide hope that consumers are ready for new opportunities to better themselves, and the planet, with what they put on their plates.
Thank you to @TheTmartino for helping me to make this piece more engaging and giving me guidance as a writer. Thanks to @juliaintransit for aiding me in upping my headline game and making writing fun. Thank you to @c_lorentzen for helping me with direction. Thank you to my mother and editor Joanna for her unwavering support.
 CBS News
 The Guardian
Nicola Davis — Rachel David — Zoë Corbyn — Kit Buchan — Stefan Gates
 Conscious Company Media
Megan French Dunbar, Rachel Zurer