The U.S. plant-based food industry was valued at $5.6 billion in 2020 and is expected to increase by nearly 50% by 2027. The number of Americans following a plant-based diet has increased by 300% in the past 15 years. Plant-based eating has grown in popularity as a way to avoid food allergies and minimize environmental damage. At the same time, research shows that consumers increasingly are looking for healthier frozen treats.
As a result, a record number of people are looking for dairy-free ice cream to beat the heat this summer. Here are three of the leading companies in the vegan frozen treats space.
1. Urban Dessert Lab
Courtney Blagrove and Zan B.R. are the cofounders of Whipped – Urban Dessert Lab. They have developed a premium plant-based ice cream made from oat milk, and now operate the world’s first oat milk ice cream shop in Manhattan. In addition, Whipped sells Oaté, a hard-scooped oat milk ice cream, which is available nationwide via Goldbelly shipping.
In addition to supporting plant-based eating, the sisters are passionate about confronting systemic injustice. Blagrove and B.R. are on a personal mission to increase the percentage of BIPOC women in executive and managerial positions in the culinary industry. As owners of a Black women-led brand, they plan to continue dismantling the societal structures that challenge the progression of BIPOC women in their field.
B.R. is an attorney with an extensive background in research. Blagrove holds a Ph.D. in nutrition and metabolism. They therefore see their entry into the space of food innovation as a natural progression. In addition to developing their own business strategy, the duo also researched and developed their own product formulas in-house.
“Our growth has been fueled by the fact that we have created more than just a suitable dairy substitute. We have been able to create a product that is preferred over traditional ice cream by both the plant-based community and mainstream dairy consumers,” say Blagrove and B.R.
2. Sweet Nothings
Beth Porter is a mother and entrepreneur who launched Sweet Nothings in 2019. The first ready-to-eat, frozen spoonable smoothie on the market has experienced a 500% increase in sales since its launch. All smoothies are under 120 calories, plant-based and made with no added sugar.
Since the onset of the current pandemic, customers have been gravitating towards the frozen food aisles. Sweet Nothings quickly went from being carried in 0 to over 1,000 stores last year. Over the next three months, Sweet Nothings will expand its retail footprint to 2,500 stores. With over 500,000 units sold to date, Porter is fulfilling her mission to make healthy food more accessible to consumers nationwide.
Porter founded Sweet Nothings on the belief that when it comes to snacking, you shouldn’t have to choose between healthy and delicious. Throughout her motherhood journey, she found herself creating smoothies for her family using nothing but organic fruits, nuts and seeds. Then, her seven-year-old daughter decided to become vegan on her own terms. That is when Sweet Nothings was born.
3. Brave Robot
Brave Robot is animal-free ice cream that takes climate change seriously. Made with science-driven whey protein, Brave Robot offers ice cream connoisseurs a vegan frozen dessert that is creamy and indulgent. Founded just a little over a year ago in March 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, already the brand has gone national. It is carried in 5,000 stores across the U.S.
Paul Kollesoff, the cofounder and general manager of Brave Robot’s parent company The Urgent Company, founded the business with the ambition of changing the way the world eats. It has been clear to Kollesoff for nearly 15 years that traditional food agriculture and manufacturing is not sustainable in the long term. At last, he is embarking on a solution to reduce our global dependence on animal products.
In October and November 2020, Brave Robot toured an ice cream truck across Arizona, Las Vegas and Southern California to help spread excitement for the brand and share information about environmental issues on the 2020 ballot. “We were able to safely spread the word of environmental focus Props and animal-free dairy,” Kollesoff says. The proceeds of Brave Robot’s limited-edition For The Future pack were also donated to help support women in STEM.
To aspiring entrepreneurs, Kollesoff says, “Don’t wait as long as I did. Meet great people. Read. Ask for advice. Don’t claim to have all the answers. Trust your gut.”