Investing in food

If you’re wondering where the next crop of entrepreneurs, or in this case eater-preneurs, is being grown for the food industry, you might want to consult your friendly neighborhood venture capitalist.

This is not to say that the VC community is sour on Silicon Valley. But recent articles, including one in Bloomberg Businessweek reports their interests have expanded to startups seeking ways to build a better egg–or in this case non-egg–along with healthier and cheaper alternatives to chicken, cheese and candy.

One of their investments, Hampton creek Foods in San Francisco, is developing a plant-based substitute called Beyond Eggs that tastes just like the real thing, costs the same, has a longer shelf life and can be used in baking. Then there’s beyond meat, a Los Angeles-based firm that’s manufacturing soy-based chicken strip that have already hit the shelves at Whole Foods.

A Boston-based startup called Unreal is making low-sugar alternative candy for some Walgreens, CVS’ and Target. This company and others feel the time is right for the food industry to bank on more healthy and sustainable products.

Apparently, academicians agree. The Food Solutions Institute at Babson College in Massachusetts is becoming the premier think-tank for agri-business entrepreneurs. Launched in 2011, the Institute has become an incubator for students who want to work in the sustainable food business. One of the speakers at a recent networking/mentoring seminar was John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, whose new book Conscious Capitalism is making the rounds.

So much for those who think innovation in America is dying.

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