6 top emerging food & beverage brands to watch

From the latest developments in nonalcoholic beer to more sustainable cat food, the Food & Beverage Insider team picks some of our favorite new products.

4 Min Read
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At Food & Beverage Insider, we love tracking the latest industry trends. This year, we’re especially keen on keeping up because there’s so much innovation in every space and every category.

For example, our latest beverage digital magazine highlights all the cool stuff happening right now, including fermented, spirit-free and functional offerings. Also, we recently looked at how almonds are driving innovation in keto-friendly formulations. And another angle focuses on how plant-based ingredients are this year’s top superfoods.

It’s enough to inspire those looking for inventive new ways to use ingredients and formulations. Another way is checking out some hot emerging brands certain to motivate the next generation of R&D experts. Here are some of our favorites.

Audarshia’s picks

Beverages: NA craft beer

Nonalcoholic beer doesn’t have to be one-note anymore. They’re just as flavorful and complex as their boozy counterparts. For Best Day Brewing, which launched in 2022, the goal is to source premium natural ingredients, including barley, hops, water and yeast, for top-notch craft beer. Not only do the brewers manage to pull off full-bodied, tasty beers, but they keep them low calorie, low sugar and low carb. The beers, crafted in Hazy IPA, Kölsh and West Coast IPA, are also enhanced with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory polyphenols.

Global: around the world in a familiar snack

From coffee beans and chocolates to a variety of spices and plant-based products, the global food scene has never been hotter. Founders everywhere are racing to share their backstories about their heritage through food, which is bringing us all closer together. Afar Protein Bars takes the trend a step forward by showcasing several cultures in a unique, yet familiar manner: the protein bar. So many cool factors were considered when creating these bars. They’re globally focused, paying homage to India (masala flavored), Mexico (chili lime), Japan (miso) and Italy (bruschetta), yet they’re also lower in sugar than the average protein bar because they’re savory. There’s only 2g sugar in each bar, and they’re also plant based.

Plant based: dairy-free goes coffeehouse

Elmhurst 1925 has been playing in the nondairy category for a while, since its 2017 relaunch, and most recently introduced a plant-based sour cream at Natural Products Expo West. Now, the company is releasing a line of barista-style creamers designed to treat users to an indulgent, coffeehouse flavor profile. There’s Maple Walnut, a rich, silky blend of walnut milk, oats and maple syrup. And the botanical blend is Vanilla Lavender Oat & Cashew, a versatile offering of oat milk, cashews and lavender extract. The latter is a limited release, and there are certain to be more botanical blends to come. Both options are certified gluten free with no artificial flavors.

Heather’s picks

For the kids: protein-packed pancakes

The Good Flour Co. creates gluten-free, allergen-free flours, mixes and batters and recently ventured into the kid’s food arena with its new protein pancake and waffle, Patty Cakes. Specially formulated for children, Patty Cakes is made using potato protein, organic buckwheat flour, white and brown rice flour, psyllium husk—which has been clinically shown to help lower cholesterol, decrease blood sugar and aid weight loss—and a few other ingredients. The company says one serving, or three mini pancakes, provides 23 grams of potato protein.

Snacks: functional and fun to eat bars

The Feel Bar company, founded in 2022, “unites organic ingredients with functional benefits.” With six different plant protein bars, depending on what type of mood you desire, The Feel Bar focuses on clean ingredients that provide specific health benefits. Each bar incorporates a different functional ingredient, from Ashwagandha to matcha, and a base of sunflower seed butter, medjool dates, pea protein and coconut nectar. The Feel Calm bar, offered in a Coconut Chai Bliss flavor, contains 200 mg of Fijian kava, an adaptogen that has potential neurological and physical benefits, in combination with hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and a range of spices and herbs.

Pets: sustainable cat food

Also founded in 2022, Pure Cravings claims to be the “only brand in the world” mercury testing each piece of human-grade fish used for its premium, canned cat food. The brand’s proprietary technology hand-tests 10,000 sustainably wild-caught tuna, salmon, sardines and mackerel every day for levels of mercury, only allowing fish containing 0.07 ppm (parts per million) or lower for production, which is 14 times below the FDA standard of 1 ppm. The fish is sustainably caught and hand-packed only once to preserve the omega-3 fats.

Audarshia Townsend and Heather Carter are Food & Beverage Insider’s content director and associate editor, respectively.

About the Author(s)

Audarshia Townsend

Content Director, Food & Beverage Insider, Informa Markets

A lifelong Chicagoan, Audarshia Townsend is an award-winning, veteran food and beverage journalist who serves as the content director for the Food & Beverage Insider brand. She is Informa Markets' 2024 "Star Storyteller" winner. Her experience as a visionary editor and writer spans 30 years, with an emphasis in print and digital magazines. Audarshia's professional passion is to champion and amplify underserved business communities. Some of her most recent content includes her review of 2023's F&B trends, the future of food science careers, an interview with culinary star Padma Lakshmi, and Pescavore's sustainable ahi tuna jerky strips. She also appears regularly on local and national media outlets to discuss food and beverage trends, most notably FOX-32 Chicago, WGN-TV, WXRT-FM, NPR-Chicago and the Travel Channel. She is often called on to serve as a judge for prestigious food, beverage and restaurant awards, including the James Beard Foundation, NEXTY Awards and Black Women in Food. She continues to write for Chicago magazine, and previously she has written for the likes of the Chicago Tribune, Eater Chicago, Esquire, Essence, Los Angeles Times, Playboy, Time Out Global and World’s Best Bars. With food and beverage being her longtime, chosen beat in media, she has created content for a number of prestigious brands such as AOL, Google, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, Lexus, MasterCard, Markon Cooperative Inc., Miller Brewing Co., Resy and Simplot Foods.

To date, Audarshia has guest lectured at the following higher-education institutions: Columbia College Chicago and Loyola University Chicago for undergraduate journalism students; Northwestern University for graduate journalism students; and Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) for undergraduate, graduate and PhD food science students. She also mentors aspiring young writers and journalists whenever she can. Email her at [email protected] and also connect with her on LinkedIn.

Heather Carter

Associate editor, Food & Beverage Insider

With over a decade of diverse professional experience under her belt, Heather has journeyed from the bustling world of local news reporting to the intricate realms of trade publishing. She has covered a wide array of topics, ranging from architecture and design to the food and beverage industry.

During her illustrious career, Heather also ventured into the realm of public relations, where she gleaned invaluable insights into the art of strategic communication and brand storytelling. Yet, her heart has always been anchored in the vibrant world of F&B, a passion deeply ingrained in her roots as the daughter of a seasoned chef. She has always held a profound appreciation for the role food plays in shaping cultures and connecting people.

With each story she tells, Heather seeks to illuminate the profound impact of food and beverage on people’s lives, celebrating its ability to evoke emotions, foster connections and weave the fabric of our shared human experience.

As Food & Beverage Insider's associate editor, she co-publishes a weekly news column, Business Bites, which showcases the latest industry news, highlighting key business updates, food and beverage innovation, industry events and more. Some of her other articles touch on important topics, such as ultra-processed foods, plant-based foods primed to change the food landscape, international flavors and ingredients, as well as better-for-you CPGs. She also frequently covers top trends at various industry events and has moderated first-of-their-kind education sessions at Informa events.

She can be reached at [email protected].

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