Let’s face it: We’re busy. Modern life leads many people — from parents, to entrepreneurs and side-hustlers, to young people juggling several jobs and student debt, to high level executives — to seek easy, inexpensive, ready-made food options. Globally, the market for ready-made meals stands at close to $200B and is rapidly growing. The protein powder market alone is expected to reach $21B by 2025. Yet today’s consumers demand food that is not only fast and easy, but also natural, nutritious and sustainable. Here are 5 companies catering to the eco-savvy, health-conscious, on-the-go food connoisseur.
1. Simo Suoheimo, founder of Ambronite
Simo Suoheimo originally created Ambronite and AmbroGreens for himself. Having grown up with gut issues and food sensitivities, Suoheimo was fortunate to nevertheless have been raised in Finland, where he had access to high quality foraged ingredients like wild berries and greens. He believes that great tasting, clean, plant-based foods should be readily available to everyone, and that we shouldn’t let modern life get in the way. With AmbroGreens, people can add a powerful dose of powdered greens and wild berries to their water, yogurt, or smoothie. Ambronite powder provides a complete vegan, low-sugar, superfood-based meal replacement.
The company’s mission is to “transform humans and the planet from surviving to thriving.” Founded in Helsinki, Finland in 2014, Ambronite already is helping a global community of health-conscious consumers from over 30 countries live their lives to the fullest. In addition, the company is committed to being part of the solution to the global environmental crisis by donating time, products, and a percentage of profits to grassroots organizations supporting sustainable food production around the world.
“I believe we’ve become disconnected from ourselves, our environment, and our food,” says Suoheimo. “Creating products that are deeply connected to nature, that enhance our wellbeing and improve our health has a profound impact on people. Every email and message I receive from a consumer who says that Ambronite has changed their lives is special. This drives me forward on a daily basis.”
To others looking to tap into their life purpose, Suoheimo counsels, “Look at the world around you. There’s no shortage of things that can be improved upon. Creating something valuable takes a lot of work, so choose a path and cause you’re ready to fight for when things aren’t going your way. Writing your values down is a great place to start. Then pick something small and start chipping away at it, with the goal of building something bigger. Why not make your life an adventure and work on something that can make life a lot better for everyone?”
2. Beth Massa, owner & founder of Ozarka
Beth Massa is the owner and founder of Ozarka and ARK Reusables by Ozarka. Ozarka offers “food packaging as a service,” which includes sourcing the right to-go containers for clients and offering its own proprietary, custom-designed food containers that are made from all-natural silicone. The goal of the company is to bring an end to single-use packaging pollution without sacrificing the convenience of food on-the-go.
Ozarka can work with any company, big or small, that produces on-the-go foods—from major office canteens to food distributors for hotels and airlines to meal home-delivery companies to independent restaurants, caterers, takeaway places, food trucks, traiteurs and delis. They replace the single-use plastic to-go containers by renting their containers to the businesses through a per-use service fee. Ozarka then installs systems to collect and sanitize the packaging and redistribute it to clients.
Massa founded Ozarka because of her deep desire to find purpose in her work and her intolerance of environmental abuse. Through her work with scientific researchers at Microsoft who were studying plastic pollution, she learned about the root causes of this problem and realized she might be able to help. That is when Ozarka was born.
“I believe this problem of plastic pollution is solvable. I’m devoting my career to solving it,” says Massa. “Practically speaking, most people really don’t want to destroy our environment. We just need help correcting our unsustainable lifestyles.”
To people interested in starting a business, Massa says: start small. “The smaller you start, the faster you can start, the faster you can learn. Do one small thing first, and do it with excellence. This doesn’t mean that your ambition or dreams have to be small. But the world needs you to get going on your great idea now.”
3. Roma Patel, founder of Tejari
Roma Patel founded Tejari out of a need for healthier go-to foods for her growing family. As a working mother of two young boys, she finds herself always on the go, with days frequently starting with 7am meetings and ending with 5pm toddler swim classes. “Skipping breakfast became the norm and I was getting frustrated with the sugar-loaded, empty-calorie snack options available as we went from one activity to the next,” Patel says.
This is what drove her desire to create a clean, organic protein powder with no added sugar or preservatives. Patel worked with food scientists and nutritionists to develop the three flavors, which can be used in smoothies, sprinkled on yogurt or pancakes, and mixed into baked items like banana bread. The blends contain real dehydrated fruits and vegetables and superfoods like cinnamon and turmeric – all organic and absent common allergens, gums, and other unnecessary additives.
After working the corporate world for companies including The Coca-Cola Company and NBC-Universal, Patel saw a clear need for a better, on-the-go protein blend that was good for the planet and harnessed sustainable materials. She wanted Tejari to serve the needs of adults and children, realizing there are few products out there that meet the nutritional needs and taste buds of both.
Launching Tejari has put Patel into completely unknown territory. But for her, the company signifies endless hope and determination to create a better world for generations to come. “Our goal is to be 100% sustainable on all aspects of the business,” she says. “Currently, we only use 100% sustainable paper and polymailers and are looking for better packaging.”
Patel offers her advice to people looking to pursue their passion. “It’s okay for your passion to remain your passion and not your career. But when your passion solves a problem and has an opportunity to improve people’s lives, believe in yourself and pursue it with everything you have.”
4. Jeff Mahin, president & co-creator of Split Nutrition
Jeff Mahin is the president and co-creator of Split Nutrition, an innovative, first-of-its-kind nut butter and jam pack aimed at changing how we view nutrition on-the-go. The plant-based, non-GMO, gluten-free packets of pure nut butter and fruit spreads allow kids and adults to fuel themselves with real food and no preservatives.
An accomplished chef and restauranteur (one of Forbes 2012 ’30 Under 30′), as well as an avid cyclist, Mahin channeled his passions for food and peak performance into creating Split with his co-founder, elite performance nutritionist Dr. Philip Goglia. After spending years in the kitchen and owning a dozen restaurants, Mahin’s health took a turn for the worse. When he met Goglia, it changed the way he viewed food and nutrition. Mahin spent the next two years seeking out the absolute best, real ingredients to help himself and others make better on-the-go food choices. He ended up creating Split for everyone from athletes to entrepreneurs to kids – anyone with a busy lifestyle.
“I work in food, but food isn’t the point,” says Mahin. “I could just as well work in politics, finance, or engineering. What it boils down to for me is how do I support and encourage my team so that we all feel successful? As a leader, I take great pride in helping people to grow and thrive. When someone I work with finds more confidence than they had when I met them or begins eating and exercising with more self-care in mind, that’s a win for me. At the same time, what keeps me up at night is the fear of letting people down.”
“You cannot go wrong if you follow these guidelines,” Mahin says to people looking to align their career with their life purpose. “Figure out what you love and do that. Resist the temptation to allow someone else’s idea of who you are to influence you. Know that failure is inevitable, and it is also always the best opportunity to learn. Continual stress is called growth.”
5. Alison Mountford, founder and CEO of Ends + Stems
Alison Mountford is the founder and CEO of Ends + Stems, a meal planning service designed to reduce household food waste and slow the effects of climate change. Food waste at home has been identified as one of the top drivers of climate change, with 40% of all food produced in the US getting wasted. Beyond the environmental impact, 82% of families that Ends+Stems surveyed said deciding what to cook was one of their biggest daily stressors. Ends+Stems gives users peace of mind in both planning meals and actively helping the environment by providing meal plans and instant grocery lists.
Mountford has 15 years of professional chef and entrepreneurial experience. Before building Ends+Stems, in 2005 she founded Square Meals, one of San Francisco’s first chef-prepared meal delivery companies. After selling that business, Mountford became interested in the zero food waste movement and began looking for ways to educate and inspire others to take action from their home kitchens.
After graduating college, Mountford felt unsure what to do with her life and literally Googled “What to do with my life.” It was a Forbes article that introduced her to the concept of running a personal chef service. Throughout the years, her mission has remaining the same: To encourage people to eat homemade food. Now she has added the objective of helping people to take action against climate change. “When things get difficult, having a purpose to come back to keeps me on track,” she says.
“It seems more plausible than ever to follow your purpose and dreams and make money at it,” Mountford says. “Technology is available for all and even with few technical skills, it can be molded to your needs. Gone are the days of finding one clear career path and sticking to it until you retire. Be creative, be clear on what motivates you and what you’re good at, and start networking with like-minded people who have taken the first steps. You can figure the details out along the way if you know what’s driving you.”