Published 5 years ago.
About a 3 minute read.
Image: Sophie's Kitchen
New report uses the term “Earth-Functional Foods” to describe food that provides environmental benefits beyond health.
The way we eat and produce food is a significant contributor to climate
In fact, agriculture is estimated to contribute between 13 and 24
of global greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, if average consumer diets continue
as is, the livestock sector alone could consume 80
percent of Earth’s annual greenhouse
gas budget by 2050.
Thankfully, in the United States, consumer preferences are starting to change.
Our new report, Growing a Sustainable Food
System, highlights entrepreneurs that are
innovating around sustainable agriculture, from the farm to the table. We devote
a section to brands that sell what we call “Earth-Functional Foods” — foods
that provide environmental benefits beyond health, including lower carbon
footprints, alternatives to
and incorporate recycled or upcycled
Interestingly, this innovation is being led by startups, not incumbents. The
reason? The biggest CPG brands typically spend around 1-5 percent of their
on research and development — compared with 15 percent for larger players in
other industries. With a recent spike in demand for sustainable products,
several CPG companies have invested in smaller brands that are pushing the
envelope on sustainability. 13 of the largest food companies — including
and Tyson Foods — have launched their own venture capital arms, startup
incubators, scholarship programs and more, aimed at unearthing next-generation
sustainable food solutions.
The term “functional foods” has emerged to describe foods such as probiotics
and coconut oil that improve your health beyond basic nutrition. In this
report, we use the term “Earth-Functional Foods” to describe a broader category:
Food that provides environmental benefits beyond health. That’s being driven by
changing consumer preferences — a rising demand for plant-based
(including the growing “center of the plate” movement), and a rising demand for
sustainable CPG products (in a recent survey, 45 percent of
would be prepared to stop buying their favorite brands if they don’t commit to
measuring their products carbon footprint).
What does this innovation look like? It can take many forms such as Sophie’s
Kitchen — developer of 100 percent plant-based
seafood alternative protein meals that are vegan, soy-free, gluten-free,
non-GMO, Kosher and, above all, good for the environment; or Kuli Kuli
the startup that may have singlehandedly created an international market for
moringa, a superfood that not only improves nutrition and livelihoods for
rural female farmers in Haiti and West Africa, but also helps to purify
water in these native growing regions.
If you would like to read about more examples of Earth-Functional Foods on the
rise, or more insights into Growing a Sustainable Food System, click
Published Jan 16, 2019 7pm EST / 4pm PST / 12am GMT / 1am CET
Matt Zieger is Head of US Ventures for Village Capital.