Earlier this week, Inc. released the 2019 edition of the Inc. 5000 list — a ranking of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S. Alongside marketing firms, healthcare management, financial services and other service providers, this year’s list featured dozens of natural food and beverage companies, showing the industry’s increasing impact on the American economy.
According to a recent study by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, the CPG industry accounts for one in ten American jobs and is the largest manufacturing employer in the United States. In total, the study found, the CPG industry supports roughly 20 million jobs that generate $1.1 trillion in labor income and contribute $2 trillion to the nation’s GDP.
BevNET and NOSH selected 20 of the highest ranking food and beverage companies from the Inc. 5000 list, including a diverse array of brands from vegetable noodle makers to plant-based creamers, that reported significant three-year growth results.
CeCe's Veggie Co
Vegetable noodle maker Cece’s Veggie Co. ranked third on the overall Inc. 5000 list and first in the food and beverage category, reporting 23,880% three-year growth. “[This] shows that consumers are demanding fresh and healthy food,” Cece’s founder Mason Arnold told NOSH. “It and I hope it spurs more activity helping people rediscover produce. It also illustrates the importance of brands (even in produce).”
Premium CBD oil maker NuLeaf Naturals ranked eleventh on the list with 11,949% three-year growth. The Colorado-based company has been a leader in the cannabis space and has expanded distribution in the past year, most recently adding all Colorado Sprouts locations.
Green Grass Foods (Nutpods)
Green Grass Foods, the parent company of plant-based creamer brand Nutpods, recently secured financing from VMG Partners. The brand came in the Top 15 on the Inc. 5000 list, reporting five-digit three-year growth. “For me what this ranking means is that you can do things your own way,” founder and CEO Madeline Haydon told BevNET. “There’s no silver bullet, there’s no one route to market.”
Wild Things Snacks
The maker of Skinny Dipped Almonds ranked 32nd on the list with 6,642% three-year growth. The women-owned company has received investment from CAVU Ventures and has achieved strong placement in grocery, including Kroger banner stores such as Fred Meyers and Harris Teeter.
Grass-fed beef jerky brand Chomps ranked within the Top 100 in 62nd place. The brand’s paleo diet friendly products have focused on bringing better-for-you meat snacks to a wide audience, including a recent launch into Walmart stores.
4th & Heart
In June, ghee maker 4th & Heart closed a $7.6 million round led by Harbinger Ventures, allowing the four-year-old brand to scale its business. The company, which reported 4,283% three-year growth to Inc., is currently available in more than 10,000 stores nationwide.
Last year, place-and-bake cookie maker Sweet Loren’s refocused its innovation toward vegan products, a move that at the time led to over 40 percent distribution growth. This week, more than a year after going vegan, the brand ranked 114 with 3,026% three-year growth.
Plant-based protein drink maker Koia has focused on creating healthy, vegan alternatives to protein shakes and began 2019 with the launch of a new keto line. The brand placed 187 on Inc.’s list, reporting 2,101% three-year growth and $8.2 million in revenue.
Launched in 2014, premium energy drink brand Uptime has emphasized innovation and expansion over the past year, announcing new flavors in April while adding convenience channel accounts across the country. The California-based brand reported $15.9 million in revenue for 2018.
As consumers place an increased importance on sustainability, water dispenser maker FloWater has grown 894% over the past three years. The Colorado-based company recently raised $15 million in a Series B round and announced it had hired a new VP of sales.
Kuli Kuli Foods
In March, moringa-based food and beverage maker Kuli Kuli closed a $5 million Series B round as it worked to expand beyond producing food and beverages and launch a supplier arm. Since 2017, CEO Lisa Curtis said the brand has tripled in size and quadrupled its supply chain.
Zolli Candy is a line of better-for-you candy products including lollipops and taffy sweetened with xylitol. Its CEO, Alina Morse, is also only 13-years-old, making her the youngest chief executive to rank on the Inc. 5000.
REBBL CEO Sheryl O’Loughlin resigned from the plant-based beverage company in June, but she apparently left the company in a strong state as the brand ranked 640 on Inc.’s list with 692% three-year growth on $22.8 million in revenue. Former thinkThin CEO Michele Kessler has since taken charge of the brand.
Maggie Louise Confections
Specialty chocolate maker Maggie Louise Confections reported 682% three-year growth to rank 650 on the list. The Texas-based brand reported $4 million in 2018 revenue.
Willy’s Fresh Salsa came in right behind Maggie Louise Confections at 651 on the Inc. 5000, reporting $2.9 million in 2018 revenue. The Ohio-based brand announced in May it has expanded to Winn-Dixie stores in the Southeast.
One of the largest food and beverage brands to appear in the top 1000, with $102.2 million in 2018 revenue, Kodiak Cakes ranked 838 on the list. The Utah-based company makes a line of baking mixes and recently launched into the snack category with a line of graham crackers.
Founded in 1998, last year fast-casual soup restaurant chain Zoup! announced it was expanding distribution of its line of retail products, which first launched in 2012. The brand ranked 912 on the list at 466% growth for its CPG business.
Organic supplement and whey protein maker Natural Force ranked 930 on the list, reporting 466% three-year growth with $4 million in 2018 revenue.
High Road Craft Ice Cream
Premium ice cream maker High Road produces rich, unique flavors including Bourbon Burnt Sugar, Caramel Pecan, and Cinnamon Crumble. The flavors, created by a chef, helped the brand to report 399% three-year growth and $15.3 million in 2018 revenue.
Waiakea Hawaiian Volcanic Water has emphasizes sustainability with its upcycled bottles. Earlier this year, it launched a new 1.5L pack size. The brand reported $6.7 million in 2018 revenue.