SF Business Times Food & Beverage Innovators Breakfast

SF Business Times Food & Beverage Innovators Breakfast

A perspective on the better-for-you food movement: balancing plant-based eating with bacon and marshmallows

At the SF Business Times Food & Beverage Innovators breakfast on 27 April, I listened intently to the esteemed panel of food leaders from Harmless Harvest, Good Eggs, Lotus Foods, Smashmallow, and Ripple Foods talk about the trend towards clean eating and plant-based foods. Hearing about the future of food they are creating was inspiring, and it also gave me pause about eating the last slice of bacon on my plate.

Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, these businesses have a common denominator. From start-ups to mature companies, they face similar challenges from hiring the right people and determining the appropriate pace of growth, to working with major retailers to effectively distribute their better-for-you products. What they have in common—at all stages of growth—is the need to define and stay true to the essence of their brand.

As a brand strategist, I was delighted to hear that packaging was a consistent topic for everyone. Not only about the designs themselves but in the strategic decisions these leaders face every day about their brand. This includes using common sense, like the example shared by Good Eggs CEO, Bentley Hall, who reported saving $10,000 in cardboard box expenses in their first week of a new ‘return to the warehouse’ package reuse program. Not only does that solve a problem for the consumer, but it helps the environment—the ultimate brand win-win.

The question asked by the gentleman from SF’s legendary Max’s Diner: “What do you see as the future of corn beef and pastrami?” brought a good laugh from attendees. He also helped bring into focus how this better-for-you trend is playing out across the nation. Even legacy food brands need to adapt and evolve but they need to do it in a way that’s authentic to who they are and on brand.

I guess my wife is right, “everything in moderation.” So, if you’re wondering – yes, I ate the last piece of bacon.