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Startups to watch at Summer Fancy Food

NEW YORK — Plant-based chicken wings, spicy ginger beer and fruit-infused whipped topping are among the innovative concepts on display in the Incubator Village exhibit at the Summer Fancy Food Show taking place June 12-14 in New York.

The Specialty Food Association is dedicating floor space for dozens of early-stage brands partnering with food incubators to develop and scale new products. Incubators participating this year include Caminus Ventures, CommonWealth Kitchen, Cornell AgriTech Center of Excellence, The Hatchery Chicago, Oregon State University Food Innovation Center and Rutgers Food Innovation Center.

“The Fancy Food Show allows startup food businesses in the incubator program to showcase their products and tell their stories to national buyers at an affordable price,” said Ploy Khunisorn, director of educational programs at CommonWealth Kitchen. “This is a great opportunity for these companies to experience the biggest food show in the US.”

The nation’s largest exclusively business-to-business specialty food and beverage show returns to New York’s Jacob K. Javits Center following a nearly three-year pause due to the pandemic.

“Our team has been working hard to create a dynamic show in our hometown of New York,” said Bill Lynch, president of the Specialty Food Association. “We are all looking forward to gathering together at the Javits to reconnect in person.”

New York-based Caminus Ventures, the first accelerator program for Black entrepreneurs in food, beverage and adjacent industries, provides equitable access to resources and opportunities to Black business owners. Brands include Edenesque, a producer of plant-based milks sourced from farmers advancing soil health and biodiversity; Nourish and Bloom, an autonomous grocery store using robotic delivery; and Uncle Waithley’s, a maker of ginger beer based on a Caribbean family recipe incorporating Scotch bonnet peppers, ginger turmeric, lime and tonic water.

CommonWealth Kitchen, based in Boston, supports mostly minority- and women-owned businesses, providing shared kitchen and manufacturing space, specialized equipment and networking opportunities. Brands include Little Pickins, which makes pre-cooked and frozen organic meal bites for children; Wise Mouth Tea, a brand of brewed beverages inspired by ancient Eastern herbal tea remedies; and Off Our Rocker Cookies, a line of plant-based, gluten-free cookies made from sweet potatoes and almonds.

The Cornell AgriTech Center of Excellence connects New York startups to researchers, farmers, processors, businesses and consumers to accelerate business development across manufacturing, supply chain and retail. Brands include Jamie’s Farm, a brand of gluten-free granolas featuring grass-fed butter and sustainably farmed ingredients; Whipnotic, a fruit-infused, low-sugar whipped topping; and The Spare Food Co., a producer of tonics made with excess whey generated through yogurt production.

The Hatchery Chicago empowers food and beverage entrepreneurs to build and scale successful businesses while creating sustainable economic growth and new job opportunities locally. Brands include Leto Foods, a maker of smoothies for pregnancy and postpartum nutrition; LusOasis, a brand of sweet and savory vegan waffle and pancake mixes; Siempre Soups, a plant-based soup company; Think Jerky, a celebrity chef-crafted line of sustainably raised beef and turkey jerky; and Tomato Bliss, a maker of soups, broths and other products made from heirloom tomatoes.

Located in Portland, Ore., the Oregon State University Food Innovation Center has a product and process development team, a consumer sensory testing laboratory and food safety hub for education and testing to help regional entrepreneurs, as well as national and international businesses, bring products to market.

“The Food Innovation Center has been attending the Fancy Food Show for many years and has been working with the association on Incubator Village all of those years,” said Sarah Masoni, director of product and process development. “We are excited to say we will have 10 companies joining us at the Fancy Food Show. It’s a diverse group of individuals from all over the world, and we look forward to meeting with buyers and media who want to visit us.”

Brands include Elevate Your Bake, a maker of baked savory cheese pastries; Khalsa Salsa, a brand of Mexican-style salsa featuring Indian spices; Mosaic Grove, a supplier of tigernut flour and other products; Portland Salt Co., which makes seasoning blends based on Pacific Ocean sea salt; and Queen of Hearts Superfoods, a line of dressings and nutritional oils and seeds. Also exhibiting are Retreat Foods, a brand of nut and seed butters formulated with functional ingredients; Saba’s Sauces, a producer of awaze sauce inspired by Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisines; Sibeiho LLC, a maker of Sambal chili sauces; Tan Tan Foods, a line of vegan and gluten-free Vietnamese sauces; and Waves Caribbean, a creator of sauces and rubs reflecting its founders’ Jamaican and Trinidadian heritage.

The Rutgers Food Innovation Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey offers marketing, technical, regulatory and manufacturing expertise to domestic and international companies seeking support from concept development to commercialization. Brands include Angel Planet Foods, a maker of ready-to-eat vegan and vegetarian meals based on Asian cuisines; Hidden Gems, a beverage company using parts of food that are typically discarded, such as avocado seeds; Kekoa Foods, a brand of organic baby food incorporating mild herbs and spices for palate development; Simply Good Jars, a line of ready-to-eat salads in reusable plastic jars; Sundial Foods, a developer of plant-based chicken-style wings that include skin and bone textures; and Vibal Energy Tea, a light green tea infused with ginseng and L-theanine.

“Incubators are the inspiration and heart of the food and beverage pipeline,” said Nolan Lewin of the Rutgers Food Innovation Center.