We’re highlighting several women entrepreneurs shaking up the food and beverage industry with innovative, health-focused products.

Audarshia Townsend, Content Director, Food & Beverage Insider

March 28, 2024

12 Slides

At a Glance

  • GoodSAM sources ingredients from women-run farms, promoting economic empowerment and ethical sourcing.
  • MenoWell is behind a new brand of plant-based bars; M2 Ingredients provides functional mushrooms for various applications.
  • Kul Mocks, Mockly offer cocktail-inspired drinks with lower calories, catering to growing nonalcoholic beverage market.

Being a full-time entrepreneur may often be one of the most unpredictable ways to make a living, yet more women than ever are dipping their stilettos into those unsettled waters. Most love the independence of being their own bosses, plus the perception that they may possibly be filling a niche is a thrill for many.

In the case of the food and beverage industry — a space wide open for innovation — female founders are serving up products with healthier halos, such as these offerings I recently featured on FOX-Chicago 32. But it doesn’t stop there. Whether they’re industry experts or not, they’re totally involved with the development of their concepts, ensuring their visions are not sidelined.

For example, Truth Bar founder and CEO Diana Stobo set out to develop a prebiotics-and-probiotics infused snack bar 10 years ago because she believed there were too many sugary protein bars on the market. “We eat too much protein that’s not bioavailable,” she said during an interview at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California. “We eat way too much sugar, and we don’t eat enough fiber,” thus her reasoning for launching the Truth Bar line, all in dark chocolate enhanced by flavors like Raspberry Coconut, Lemon Coconut Cake, Peanut Butter Crunch and Vanilla Cake Batter.

Related:‘Unhealthy’ plant-based diet shows no benefit to diabetes risk

The former chocolatier — and also nutritionist — believes her expertise sets her products apart from competitors. Blending her skills with raw chocolate, knowledge of gut health and flavor profiles has helped her to create a unique, plant-based snack bar that is also appealing to consumers, she said.

“It's not easy to get all those rich ingredients into one tiny 45gm bar, but we did it,” Stobo said. “We worked really hard with a nutraceuticals company to develop these products. [This is] the easiest possible way that you can take your probiotics and your fiber each day.”

In this slideshow presentation, I spotlight 12 female-owned products that similarly take a “better for you” approach. From GoodSAM’s new low-sugar Pineapple Slice Chips — sourced from female-helmed small farms in South America and West Africa — to nonalcoholic, ready-to-drink beverage brand Kul Mocks and the menopause-focused Tea Botanics, innovation was at an all-time high at Expo West.

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.

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