There's no denying the fact that superfoods are having their moment in the limelight. While some consider it a buzzword, others think superfoods to be a legitimate effort to plug deficiencies in our fast-paced, modern-day diets and food supply chains.
The superfoods market is growing at a meteoric CAGR of 9.3% (2016-2027). And more new superfood products are being launched than in the beauty and personal care, health and hygiene, drink, or pet industries. The good news for startups is that the market is still highly fragmented, so there's plenty of room for new players to come in and establish themselves.
With that in mind, let's look at a trifecta of exciting superfood startups from across the world.
What Are Superfoods?
Superfoods are foods that are considered to be exceptionally nutritionally dense. There is no set definition or criteria for what qualifies as superfoods. They also don't form their own food group, like the five established food groups we use today - Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Proteins, and Dairy. In fact, there are foods from all food groups that can be considered superfoods, such as:
● Sweet potatoes
While many superfoods are whole foods like these, there are also many superfood supplements. For example, spirulina, ashwaganda, hemp powder, etc. What they have in common are high levels of vitamins, minerals, essential nutrients, and other beneficial substances.
Some consider "superfood" more of a marketing term than an actual qualifier. However, there's no doubt that there are foods with more beneficial nutritional profiles than others. Most foods that are considered "superfoods" either have many proven or widely supported health benefits.
Another factor that's driving the superfoods industry is convenience. People with a hectic, fast-paced lifestyle see superfoods as a way to get more "bang for their buck," nutritionally speaking. Many believe that you can many of the deficiencies we have in our modern-day diets by consuming more superfoods. For example, a lack of variety and wholefood sources as well as nutrient deficiencies.
Startups Making Superfoods
If the boom the industry has experienced in recent years indicates, many consumers believe in the supposed benefits of superfoods. All of the hype and profit flowing into this young industry means that there are plenty of startups vying to innovate their way to the top of the food chain.
RDCL is a US-based superfood startup headquartered in Los Angeles, California. The name itself is derived from the words Radical and Radicle. Its mission is to "champion and promote the health, ethical, and ecological benefits of plant-based nutrition."
RDCL's flagship product consists of proprietary fruit-based blends that can be mixed into water or blended into smoothies. The core Radical Element blend is developed to boost hydration and immunity. However, different products include additional blends that help manage stress, increase energy, improve focus, etc.
Furthermore, all RDCL's ingredients are 100% plant-based and mostly organic:
● Coconut water concentrate
● Passion fruit
● Maqui berry
● Dragon fruit
● Passion fruit
● L-theanine (from green tea)
● Himalayan salt
● Vitamin D3
Their latest product, Super Cocoa, is a cacao powder-based drink with many of the same ingredients.
Each product comes in 30 servings. Customers subscribe to RDCL to have their blend delivered to their door monthly. The idea is that by combining both Radical Elements blends into your daily routine for a complete immunity-boosting protocol.
Founded on October 15th, 2018, RDCL is still a relatively small company with a handful of employees, including founders Donny Makower, Tyler Malin, and Zak Zaidman. However, they have already amassed over $1 million in funding and are one of the fastest-growing superfood startups in the US.
Helga is an Austrian startup that manufactures and sells algae-containing superfood products. All its algae are manufactured in Austria using closed and protected glass tube systems. This ensures a high level of purity with minimal outside contamination. And a closed, pump-free production system means it's a highly sustainable method for farming algae.
Algae is considered one of the world's oldest superfoods, with over 30,000 sub-types. It has played an important role in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for over 2,000 years, but western medicine is quickly catching up to its benefits. And Helga aims to be the spearhead of bringing superfood algae to this market.
Helga uses freshwater microalgae chlorella, which they claim to have high nutrient density and is more sustainable to produce than many other food sources. Some of the well-known and documented benefits of algae include helping with vital body functions, such as growth, regeneration, and energy production. Not to mention high concentrations of vitamins (especially vitamin B12), antioxidants, Iodine, Iron, and phytochemicals.
Helga offers a small yet varied catalog of algae products:
● Still and sparkling bottled algae drinks
● Seaweed crackers
● Algae crackers
● Chlorella algae powder
Prolgae was founded in January 2017 by Mr Aakas Sadasivam and Mr Mika Rautio. The company bases its line of products around its high-quality, EU organic-certified Spirulina.
Spirulina is not exactly a new product in the superfoods market. However, Prolgae aims to deliver a more palatable and high-quality version of spirulina through various innovative snacks, such as protein bars, nibs, and sweetened powders. And, Prolgae claims that all its spirulina is all-natural and sun-dried - which produces more vitamins D3 and B12 and produces a milder taste.
High in protein and fibre, spirulina is believed to be an effective weight loss supplement. It provides the body with an alternative source of fuel and protein to break down more carbohydrates. Finally, Prolgae's spirulina is incredibly nutrient-dense:
● 180% more calcium than milk
● 180% more antioxidants than blueberries
● 670% more protein than tofu
● 9 essential amino acids
● 550% more iron than spinach.
Prolgae primarily sells its products in India.
North America may still hold the largest global share in the market. However, Asia Pacific is catching up with the highest growth. As you'll see below, there are also many promising prospects from other regions, such as Europe and South Asia. So, the superfood trend seems to be a global phenomenon.
As you can see, many startups are not just aiming to solve problems related to individual nutrition. Many take it as an opportunity to address food availability and sustainability challenges, especially for future generations.
That may lead to many other innovations in this space that we've not even touched on yet.