If you want a sneak peak at what might be the next big thing in food, AccelFoods is a good place to start. The early-stage investors identify and fund start-ups with an eye for the future.
AccelFoods looks for growing markets and popular trends among millennials, such as healthy desserts, super foods, unique proteins and ethnic snacks. They’ve bet on everything from cricket protein bars to mushroom teas. AccelFoods has just invested in six more start-ups, its third class since launching a year ago. Here they are:
1. Bandar Foods: Indian flavors for millennials
Lalit Kalani and Dan Garblik want to bring Indian flavors to the masses. So they’ve pureed chutneys and put them in a squeeze bottle to be used as condiment.
They sell four flavors, spicy mango chili sauce, mint-cilantro chili sauce, tangy tamarind dipping sauce and masala spiced tomato ketchup. The co-founders say they envision their sauces being used in a manner similar to sriracha sauce, on thing such as burgers, fries and pizza.
“We see ourselves playing at the intersection of a few major trends. We see ethnic food and Indian being a fast trend, we see healthy food and healthy eating being a fast trend. And so what we wanted to do is basically not try to force something in the United States,” Garblik said.“We wanted to take something we already knew had universal appeal, at least in one part of the world.”
They also sell lentil crisps, either cumin or green chili garlic flavor.
2. JicaChips: Chips made from jicama
Xin Wang and Melissa Colella-Wang want to get America off traditional potato chips. The husband and wife, who run triathlons, said snacking became their nemesis. So they started experimenting with different vegetables to try and find something better to munch on. They settled on jicama, which is sometimes called a Mexican potato or yam.
“It’s really been a vegetable that has been overlooked up to this point,” Colella-Wang said.
They bake the jicama slices, then add a light coating of olive oil. Seasoning is added for four flavors — sea salt, smoked BBQ, white cheddar and cinnamon sugar.
“It’s a low-calorie, high-fiber, under 100 calories per serving with six grams of fiber. It is a tremendously more healthy alternative to a potato chip,” said Lauren Jupiter, a managing partner at Accel Foods.
The healthy snack does come at an increased cost, a bag sells for about $5 now.
3. Cows Gone Coconut: The flavor of ice cream without the downsides
Of the 14 start-ups Accel Foods has invested in, three are based in Boulder, Colo., including Cows Gone Coconut. The area’s culture is focused on healthy living, making it a fertile ground for health-conscious start-ups to spring up. Cows Gone Coconut makes a creamy, non-dairy frozen dessert out of coconut milk and coconut water. The production process also leaves a smaller carbon footprint than traditional ice cream.
4. Element Snacks: Sweets that are better for you
These guys sell rice and corn cakes that are covered with Italian chocolate and cream fruit. The aim is to create an indulgent food that’s healthier for you than a traditional dessert.
“It’s really shaking up a category that hasn’t seen innovation in a long time,” Jupiter said.
5. Fresh Bar: The breakfast bar you refrigerate.
The Minneapolis start-up Five Friends Food sells refrigerated granola bars with fresh fruits and nuts.
“We think for the millennial consumer and for moms who are really focused on delivering nutrients and fresh food that doesn’t have stabilizers and that’s not been sitting on the shelf for a month, it’s tremendously innovative,” Jupiter said.
6. Podlife: Protein when you want it
This start-up that launched in Australia is making it easy to get protein on the go. It sells a water bottle and small containers of protein. You insert a protein packet, fill the water bottle, shake it up and suddenly have a protein shake. It’s designed for millennials who prioritize convenience.