5 Predictions About the Future of Food From an Early Beyond Meat Investor

Dan Gluck, a partner at PowerPlant Ventures and a co-founder of Health Warrior, shares what he's most excited about.

learn more about Stephen J. Bronner

By Stephen J. Bronner

LauriPatterson | Getty Images

The entrepreneurs creating food companies are no longer satisfied with just making better-for-you products, they want to shake up the industry, according to a venture capitalist who was an early investor in Beyond Meat.

"What we're seeing now is quality entrepreneurs coming out of the MBA program leaving jobs at Fortune 500 companies to go and start food companies," said Dan Gluck, a partner at PowerPlant Ventures and a co-founder of the Pepsico-owned Health Warrior. "Why? The food industry is broken. So where there's problems and crises, that attracts capital and talent."

The plant-based focused PowerPlant Ventures, founded in 2015, has also invested in other rising stars in the food space, such as Thrive Market, the Kimbal Musk co-founded Square Roots, Just and Ripple. Gluck's partners are Mark Rampolla, founder of Zico Beverages, and Kevin Boylan and T.K. Pillan, co-founders of Veggie Grill, a vegetarian fast casual eatery with more than 35 locations.

Related: The Food Industry Is a 'Gold Rush' for Entrepreneurs, Says the Founder of Krave Jerky and a $40 Million Marshmallow Brand

"We're mission driven, looking for companies that are trying to deliver better nutrition in more sustainable ways," Gluck said.

Here are Gluck's five observations and predictions about the food industry.

1. More food will be purchased online.

Ecommerce rates for food items is currently only at 3 percent, compared to 20 percent for other goods, according to statistics from Cowen and Company. Gluck said he believes that within the next five to 10 years, online food purchases will be more in line with other goods. Thrive Market, a subscription-based online grocer, is ahead of the trend, Gluck said.

"Companies like Thrive really bridge that gap in that they can deliver healthy nutritious convenient food at an affordable price to consumers' doorsteps," said Gluck, who added that about half of its customer base is located in the Midwest and southeast.

2. Alternative meat still has room to grow.

"There's a lot of emerging insurgent brands that are coming to market with sophisticated products, great branding and great teams," Gluck said. "It's such a tip of the iceberg when you think about the size of the meat industry. [Alternatives have] less than 1 percent of market share today. If you draw some corallaries between the growth of the plant-based milk companies, they went from virtually zero market share to about 13 percent. The alternative meat industry is just beginning."

Related: Plant-Based Egg From Just to Soon Be Available Nationwide in Whole Foods

3. Plant-based seafood and alternative cheeses are rising.

PowerPlant Ventures has its eyes on two emerging players in this space: Good Catch, maker of a bean-based alternative tuna, and Ocean Hugger, which created a tomato-based "tuna."

The investors are also interested in alternative cheeses, such as Miyoko's. But Gluck said he believes that alternative milks are getting saturated.

"I saw a pistachio milk, which actually tasted phenomenally good," he said. "But by and large, that category has been played out."

4. CBD will be huge.

CBD, the non-psychoactive compound from cannabis, has blown up in the past couple of years. It's found in massage oils, sparkling beverages, desserts, bars, basically everything. It also had a huge presence at Expo West, one of the largest natural foods shows.

"There were over 100 new companies there who were highlighting their CBD focus, from drinks to energy shots to beauty products. We've seen it all now," Gluck said. "We think this is a category that could be just as big as the spirits industry."

5. Food companies need to commit to either direct-to-consumer or retail.

While Gluck said that all companies need to have an online presence, the companies he's seen become successful commit to either direct-to-consumer or retail.

"We like to see a company execute on one of those channel strategies perfectly," he said.

Related: The Story Behind the Coffee Company That Fuels Google, Microsoft and Facebook

He gave examples from PowerPlant's portfolio of each. Your Super, which makes smoothie mixes, sells mostly to customers through its website, with just some strategic retail accounts. "They don't really see the need to go into retail," Gluck said. "We view the retail component as just upside that we can tap into once the company has this proof of concept and loyal follower base online."

The other is Vive Organic, which makes wellness shots. "They launched early on in predominantly coffee shops and other natural independent stores, then last year did a national launch at Whole Foods," Gluck said. "They recently started selling online but it's not a massive focus area yet."
Stephen J. Bronner

Entrepreneur Staff

News Director

Stephen J. Bronner writes mostly about packaged foods. His weekly column is The Digest. He is very much on top of his email.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.

Business News

I Live on a Cruise Ship for Half of the Year. Look Inside My 336-Square-Foot Cabin with Wraparound Balcony.

I live on a cruise ship with my husband, who works on it, for six months out of the year. Life at "home" can be tight. Here's what it's really like living on a cruise ship.

Thought Leaders

The Collapse of Credit Suisse: A Cautionary Tale of Resistance to Hybrid Work

This cautionary tale serves as a reminder for business leaders to adapt to the changing world of work and prioritize their workforce's needs and preferences.

Business Solutions

Learn to Build a ChatGPT Bot for Only $30

If you want to see what AI can do for your business, grab this course bundle today.

Business News

American Airlines Sued After Teen Dies of Heart Attack Onboard Flight to Miami

Kevin Greenridge was traveling from Honduras to Miami on June 4, 2022, on AA Flight 614 when he went into cardiac arrest and became unconscious mid-flight.

Health & Wellness

5 Essential Steps to Expand Your Vision and Start Living Your Dream Life

It's time to break free from your comfort zone and expand your vision. When you refuse to settle for a mediocre life, you can start building a life you love.