Hippeas, Shaka Tea, Afineur to take center stage at FOOD VISION USA as our 2016 trailblazers

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Hippeas, Shaka Tea, Afineur to take center stage at FOOD VISION USA as our 2016 trailblazers

Related tags Food vision usa Entrepreneurship Coffee Brand

From purveyors of ostrich meat and Kenyan purple tea to fruit- and vegetable-infused whey protein, lupini bean snacks and pizza crusts packed with veggies, the entrepreneurs entering our 2016 trailblazers challenge are at the cutting edge of food & beverage innovation. But we had to pick three winners …

Drum roll please…

The three trailblazing, entrepreneurial start-ups​ who will take center stage on the opening night (November 9) of Food Vision USA in Chicago this year are: Organic chickpea puffs brand Hippeas​, cultured coffee maker Afineur​ and Hawaiian tea brand Shaka Tea.

The eight runners up – who also wowed us with their innovative products – are: Pure Growth Organic, Brami​, American Ostrich Farms​, Willow Cup​, Levels​, Once Upon a Farm​, Kenya Purple Tea​, and Oh Yes Foods!

Our three trailblazers will be invited to present live on stage to our expert panel and the audience as part of our innovation, incubation and investment discussions on the opening night of Food Vision USA​ ​(Nov 9-11) – a three-day conference shining a spotlight on the companies, large and small – that are doing most to drive innovation and champion change.

There they will get feedback on their products, packaging and strategy, plus the opportunity to ask questions and seek advice from the panel and from the Food Vision community.

The panel (pictured below, left to right):

  • Seth Goldman,​ founder of Honest Tea and executive chairman of Beyond Meat
  • John Haugen​, general manager of General Mills’ venture fund, 301 INC
  • Jason Starr,​ head of funds at online investment platform, CircleUp
  • Jon Sebastiani,​ founder and CEO of the venture fund and consumer brands incubator, Sonoma Brands (and founder of KRAVE Jerky)
Food Vision 2016 incubator panel

The three trailblazers​ will receive:

  • A place at Food Vision USA​: Participation in the innovation discussions on November 9, live on stage in front of our expert panel.
  • Participation in an exclusive nightcap session for follow-up discussions.
  • A closed-door advice session with John Haugen​ of General Mills’ venture fund, 301 INC and Jason Starr, Head of Funds​ at CircleUp.
  • Access to the full program including all presentations and networking sessions.
  • Accommodation at The Drake Hotel​ (November 9 & 10)
  • Editorial coverage in FoodNavigator-USA​/NutraIngredients-USA
  • Inclusion in the Food Vision USA 2016 video.
  • 50% discount on registration for colleagues (standard registration, does not include accommodation)
shaka tea

TRAILBLAZER: SHAKA TEA ​(Honolulu, Hawaii)

Unlike many 'Hawaiian' products that are Hawaiian in branding only, premium herbal tea Shaka Tea is built around māmaki - a plant that only grows in the Hawaiian islands.

The brand - developed by husband and wife team Bella Hughes and Harrison Rice - is the first Hawaiian ready-to-drink iced tea, and the first brewed with māmaki. 



The brainchild of Italian serial entrepreneur Livio Bisterzo - who spent most of his adult life in London but now lives in California - Hippeas organic chickpea puffs were conceived in spring 2015, debuted on both sides of the Atlantic simultaneously in summer 2016, and have already secured shelf space at 18,500 stores from Starbucks (nationwide), Whole Foods Market (one region this year, several more in 2017), and Amazon in the US, to WH Smith (travel division), Boots, Holland & Barrett and Waitrose in the UK.

Talks are also progressing with major retailers and foodservice providers in both markets, says Bisterzo, founder of brand owner Green Park Brands, who reckons that Hippeas could achieve wholesale revenues of $35m by the end of 2018 if things continue on their current trajectory.



Some fermented foods (beer and sauerkraut), have been around for years, while others (flavors, sweeteners, ‘animal-free’ dairy proteins) are pretty new.

But what if you could use microbes to transform the flavor or nutrition of a host of agricultural products to make a third wave of ‘cultured’ products, from ultra-smooth coffee, to more nutrient-packed grains? 

This is the vision of Brooklyn-based start-up Afineur​ , which has combined its co-founders’ expertise in flavor chemistry and microbiology to create the first ‘cultured’ coffee (in which bitter notes have been eliminated by microbes during a controlled fermentation process), and is now looking at how naturally-occurring micro-organisms could modify the properties of everything from cocoa to cereal grains.


The eight runners up – who also wowed us with their innovative products – arePure Growth Organic​, Brami​, American Ostrich Farms​, Willow Cup​, Levels​, Once Upon a Farm​, Kenya Purple TeaOh Yes Foods!

brami team
Once Upon a farm landscape
Pure Growth Organic
American ostrich farms
Willow Cup

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