How can better-food investors know they’re backing a winner?

By David Rowe, Founder, Epogee LLC

Though billions of investment dollars continue to pour into making food that’s better for our bodies and better for the planet, the prospects for a return are far from certain. Present economics aside, according to Failory.com, 90% of food startups will fail. Even in promising areas, such as alternative proteins, the time between R&D and in-market is painfully long for those looking for quick returns.

So how can investors who want to realize any kind of ROI know where to place their bets? My advice is to look at the companies focused on the emotional fulfillment of food.

Healthier comfort food – for the win

These days, if there’s one thing I think we can all agree on, it’s that food equals pleasure. Historically, what began as a means of survival and nutrition, for most, has evolved to become one of the biggest enjoyments in life. During the height of the pandemic, comfort food sales spiked and today demand has hardly waned.

For me, comfort food is about savory smells in the kitchen; gooey, rich cheeses; creamy sauces; and the blissful fulfillment of indulgent sweets. I relate it to happy times in favorite places among the people I love. For others, it provides a sense of emotional fulfillment even in not-so-happy times.

But here’s the hard truth. The majority of today’s comfort food is junk. It isn’t healthy. This is largely due to its fat content, specifically saturated fat, which has been tied to obesity and heart disease. But fat in foods has an upside. It plays an enormous role in delivering sensory pleasure and satiating appetite; it’s what makes a burger juicy, chocolate velvety rich, and ice cream smooth and creamy. Unfortunately, in their efforts to make better food, many startups and innovators aren’t solving the fat challenge. Some are skimping on fat and, as a result, losing on flavor and texture. Others are focused on different aspects of formulation and overlooking the biggest contributor to making food enjoyable to eat!

But what if bad-for-you comfort food became good-for-your-health and good-for-the-planet food? What if healthy dinners and snacks were indistinguishable from the indulgent tastes and textures that satisfy our brain’s pleasure and fullness centers? As a veteran in innovative business solutions (and as founder of a fat alternative startup) to me, that’s a winning idea.

Fat is the secret to success

For consumers, the fat system used in food formulation makes the difference between “blech” and “wow, I want more!” In my opinion, any company that is focused on a healthier fat formulation in order to achieve better food that’s pleasurable and fulfilling has tremendous odds for success.

At Epogee, our customers, and ultimately their investors, are seeing sustainable, upward growth for many reasons. One, because the companies are founded and/or led by people with a true passion for making better-food that tastes amazing. And two, because their formulators understand the role that fat plays in all the sensory aspects of food.

With so many options for investing in better-food ventures, and with so many unknowns in the economy, I can’t imagine placing a bet on any company that isn’t committed to making a viable, sellable and desirable better-for-you product—one with the pleasing taste, texture and satiety that’s worth coming back for.

EPG, made by Epogee, is a fat alternative that improves the nutritional profile of foods by reducing calories from fat and saturated fat – without compromising the taste and texture that consumers love. If you’d like to talk about companies formulating with EPG to make food that’s better for our bodies and the planet, please contact David Rowe, drowe@epogee.com.