Fueled by the pandemic and years of injustice, 2020 saw an increased amount of protesting and outcry for a more equitable world. The protests against George Floyd’s death at the hands of police affected civilians and businesses alike and consumers began to seek out do-good brands more than ever.
In response to feeling neglected and disenfranchised from the government, many Americans took matters into their own hands, creating funds and opportunities to lift up women-, and BIPOC-owned brands. Nonprofit organization Alt_ in Chicago battled food scarcity in underserved neighborhoods by creating several pop up markets that offered grocery staples for free. The Empower Project, founded by C.A. Fortune along with eight other firms, will offer a variety of services to a winner of the project’s virtual pitch slam contest, a $500,000 value. Pop Up Grocer founder Emily Shildt awarded the Pop Up Grocer Fund to Gwell, a Black-owned business that produces plant-based snacks.
SFA’s 12 Under 35 list included several young entrepreneurs dedicated to creating social and economic change and influencing the future of food. During the first ever Specialty Food Live! virtual event, which took place in September, panelists Maria Palacio, co-founder of Progeny Coffee; Jenny Dorsey, chef and founder of Studio ATAO; and Gabrielle E.W. Carter, co-founder of Tall Grass Food Box spoke about their respective brands and how they are making a difference.
Driven by consumer demand, many companies sought to rebrand or remove products that were racially insensitive or stereotypical. Ben’s Original (formerly Uncle Ben’s) and Edy’s Pie (formerly Eskimo Pie) received new names and logos, while Land O’ Lakes removed the image of a Native American woman on its packaging. Quaker Oats retired the Aunt Jemima brand and logo entirely.