When Keenan Smith made his first batch of water kefir, it was for his kids. He wanted something more nutritious for his young daughters, avid sparkling water drinkers. 

Tangy, bubbly and packed with probiotics, water kefir hit all the right notes. The next year was full of home kitchen experiments, creating enticing flavors and perfecting the four-core formulation — purified water, kefir cultures, cane sugar and mission figs.

“My daughters are my best taste testers,” Smith says. “We used to be big kombucha drinkers, but water kefir is providing a different alternative. Water kefir is lighter, less sour and it has no caffeine. The kombucha flavor doesn’t work for some people, and water kefir is a perfect entry into the probiotic drink space. It’s a bridge between kombucha and sparkling water. People can still have a yummy, probiotic drink with water kefir.” 

Smith is hardly a kombucha hater, though. He’s a big fan of the fermented tea. Smith was a sales broker for many natural brands for almost two decades — including Health-Ade Kombucha, one of the nation’s leading kombucha brands.

“When I was their broker, they majorly grew their company. But they’re still fermenting in individual glass vessels,” Smith says. “I look to that model because they’ve been so successful without sacrificing the fermentation process.”

By November 2016, Smith rented a commercial kitchen near his home in Portland, Ore. and began brewing kegs of water kefir under his label: Goodwolf Feeding Company. His first customer was Airbnb’s corporate offices. By late 2017, Goodwolf opened their own manufacturing facility, scaling up without sacrificing small batch fermentation. Even now as Goodwolf expands from a Pacific Northwest brand to the West Coast, Goodwolf continues to ferment  in 50 gallon stainless fermentation vessels, cultivating additional kefir cultures as the business grows. 

“Production is moving very quickly. It feels like we’re in a rocket ship,” Smith says. “It’s a great time for water kefir.”

A few months after his big win as the Expo East Pitch Slam winner, Smith shares how he responsibly built a fermented drink brand.

The Fermentation Association: You were formerly a sales broker for natural food and drink brands. How did your background help you launch Goodwolf water kefir?

Keenan Smith: Knowing the industry, understanding how retailers and distributors work, knowing the cost of doing business upfront. That’s why it’s taken so long for us to grow — we didn’t raise venture capital out of the box. We’ve been slow and steady. We haven’t taken on much investment at all.

A lot of brands will start selling at farmers markets, then pitch to stores, but I had the connections to the retailers. We went right to the retailers.

It’s been a blessing and a curse. The blessing is we’ve been able to get into a lot of the retailers, but where we’ve been short-sighted is the on-premise channels. We haven’t done much with food service and the alternative channel side — like local offices, beer distributors and bars, they’re wanting non-alcoholic options. We’ve missed out on that keg business. These were things I didn’t think about when I focused on the retail challenge.

TFA: Functional beverages are shaking up the drink industry. How do you stand apart from other functional drinks?

Smith: Our best IP (intellectual property) is definitely our recipes, our flavor. We have really good recipes because we really came into it, that was our main goal, to create a very good tasting and nicely packaged product. We announced our social mission at Expo East around mental health. We didn’t want to lead with that though, we wanted to make sure the product and the branding was dialed in.

And also our packaging and position stands out. If you look at the kombucha case, there’s a lot of yoga, spiritual, Hindu vector art. Everything screams yoga. It’s a lot of white. And our packaging is black. We are trying to be a challenger brand. We don’t want anything that’s superfluous in there. We want to position ourselves as a challenger brand to the industry norms. We’re trying to stand out that way — with our marketing and positioning that we’re a little different. 

TFA: Tell me about the genesis of the name, Goodwolf.

Smith: Before I started Goodwolf, I was dealing with a lot of depression and anxiety. I was working on eating better and exercising. I was running one day and listening to a podcast and heard the popular good wolf legend story — the classic story on the good wolf, bad wolf. The good wolf is full of joy and love, you feed it by eating healthy. The bad wolf is angry and succumbs to fear, and you feed it a box of donuts. The one that wins is the one you feed. So I had this idea of the Goodwolf origin story.

TFA: What’s your most popular flavor.

Smith: Ginger. But our Gold is creeping up there. It’s cold pressed organic ginger, lemon, lime, pineapple and spices like turmeric and a little bit of black pepper. Our newest flavor is Habanero Fire, it’s our 5th flavor. It’s a nice addition because most brands don’t think about habanero, there’s a lot of cayenne cleanse, but no habanero. I tasted a habanero-infused cider and it had more of a round flavor, while cayenne is more of a single note of heat. Habanero is more well-rounded. We add cayenne, but the habanero really comes through. And it’s cold-pressed with ginger and apple cider vinegar. 

TFA: It sounds like a lot of work goes into crafting your flavors.

Smith: Yes. There’s a lot of R and D. Our No. 2 ranked SKU is called Bloom. That was originally called Wolf Berry because Wolf Berry was another name for goji berry, which we were fermenting with in the beginning. The way we use figs now, figs are used to culture the wild yeast out of the air, they float to the top of the water when fermenting, then you throw them out. We were doing the same thing with goji berries. But something happened in fermentation that made it very foamy with goji berries. So we stopped using the goji berries and now we’re using figs. 

TFA: You announced a social mission at Expo East. Tell me more about your social mission. 

Smith: Coming from a broker world, I worked with a lot of brands that were social mission first. “Buy our product and we’ll give our product to someone that doesn’t have this product!” But this doesn’t always work. Maybe this product isn’t something needed, or it’s not as good as something else on the market so it didn’t make sense. We didn’t want to lead with that social mission. 

We could slap 1% for the planet on the bottle, that would be easy. But I struggled with anxiety, I have family members who have struggled with depression. I can really get behind that interest because I relate to it. This felt unique. It’s part of the challenger brand position. And it’s feeding the good wolf, making the right choices.

We’re trying to do something harder, align our brand with mental health awareness. We can’t just donate our money to it because we don’t have money yet, all our money is going back in the business. You can’t really volunteer unless you have a degree, they don’t just want anyone off the street working with people suffering with mental health issues. A friend who is a doctor is consulting with us on how we can best use it. Maybe profits go to the National Association On Mental Illness. Right now it’s an intention versus a full fledged mission. It will be baked into the company as we grow.

TFA: How can brands effectively advertise the health benefits of their product?

Smith: I personally think you have to be crafty. You don’t want to scream health at the customer because you alienate people who think it won’t taste good because it’s healthy. Or you’re preaching to the choir because the healthy people know it’s healthy. You need to be able to imply the benefit without being too forward.

TFA: What challenges do fermented food and drink producers face?

Smith: Education. Even though we’ve made strides, there’s still so much education to be done. One of the big challenges is how do we stay true as smaller brands that are doing traditionally fermented products against larger brands with tons of venture capital and are adding probiotics. It’s apples and oranges when you’re talking about products sitting on a shelf together. Are they a brand funded by Coke? We have to tell our story. It’s advantageous when you’re going into retailers and say we’re small, we’re traditionally fermented. If you can tell that story to your buyers and convey it to your customers. We pushed the traditional fermented aspect.

TFA: What are the fermented food and drink industry strengths?

Smith: Well look, there’s a global pandemic happening and I think that ultimately, you will begin to understand that health is your only wealth. Health and your family are the only things that matter. When people understand that, your product is like gold because you’re providing health to people. And that’s the most important thing we have. 

TFA: What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs starting a fermentation brand?

Smith: My advice is some advice I heard recently: Find a space that isn’t already crowded. Maybe we don’t need more sauerkraut and kombucha brands or water kefir, frankly. But try to focus on how you can expand to your maximum potential locally and regionally. Don’t just look at national chains and distributors, but look at on-premise sales. How can you get your product into universities, schools, tech campuses? Think outside the box, find something truly unique that the markets are not flooded with. Or else we’re all just cannibalizing each other.

The new wave of protein is not plant-based — it’s fermented.

“Fermentation is really cultivating microbes,” says Thomas Jonas, CEO and co-founder of Sustainable Bioproducts. “And it’s incredibly efficient. Microbes duplicate very fast. So when you think about the double time for a cow or a pig, you’re talking about years. When you talk about microbes, you’re talking about hours. … This is nature’s technology. Nature is really the No. 1 biotech engineer in the world.”

The current agriculture system is incredibly inefficient. Livestock continues to be the world’s largest user of land resources. Pasture land consumes 80% of total agricultural land. Fermented organisms are emerging as new sources of proteins and ingredients. 

Leaders in the biotech industry shared how science is looking beyond plants to create food at a panel sponsored by The Good Food Institute.

Is Microbe Fermentation the New Era of Farming?

Sustainable Bioproducts creates a 50% protein based food ingredient from a microbe cultivated in the volcanic springs at Yellowstone National Park. Jonas explains that these fungal strains, called extremophiles, naturally produce a complete protein when grown in a controlled environment. Sustainable Bioproducts will soon move to a 36,000-square foot facility in Chicago’s former meatpacking district for production. The facility will take up just 0.7 acres. Compare the amount of food Sustainable Bioproducts produces to the equivalent of cow meat and 7,000 acres of grazing land would be needed for the cows.

“It’s the next generation of very efficient farming. I think what we want to get through farming are the nutrients that we need for our food. And microbes can do this tremendously efficiently,” Jonas said. 

By fermenting proteins in bioreactors versus deriving the protein from plants or raising it and slaughtering it on a feedlot, food scientists can do a lot with the health profiles.

Michele Fite, chief commercial officer for Motif FoodWorks, said they work with microbes to adjust sensory attributes, like taste, smell, flavor and texture. “We can help so we don’t have to compromise taste or nutrition when consumers are looking to access plant based foods,” she said.

Adds Anja Schwenzfeier, business development manager for Novozymes: “You want to produce specific proteins that might already exist, but you want to do that more efficiently and more sustainably. You deal with molecules you’re already familiar with.” 

“It’s not so much about creating a completely new protein. Right now we’re looking into how we can improve ingredients we already work with through fermentation.”

Fermentation as a Marketing Advantage

Panel moderator Jeff Bercovici, a writer for the Los Angeles Times, asked how biotech companies are meeting consumers in the development of fermented meat alternatives.

“(There is an) evolution of consumer attitude towards their food, which in some ways are really driving them very quickly to embrace meat alternatives, but in some ways there are some counter currents in terms of people wanting to eat whole foods, natural foods, foods with shorter ingredient lists,” Bercovici said.

The panel noted fermentation has long been a stable in the history of food, from beer to yogurt to cheese. As fermentation is making a comeback, it’s a “marketing advantage,” Bercovici notes, “now it’s a net positive, it generates consumer excitement.”

Fite at Motif FoodWorks said they’ve conducted research on meat alternative users. These consumers are currently buying meat alternatives because they believe it’s healthier than red meat and even chicken. “They want to be in this space,” she said. Consumers voice that meat alternatives are more sustainable, better for the environment, better for animal welfare and equally nutritious.

“They’re open to technology helping to solve that issue for them,” she said. “These consumers are more open to technical solutions than consumers that are a lot older have been in the past…there’s a gateway for these consumers to technical advancements, because they believe it aligns with their values.”

Adds Mark Matlock, senior vice president of food research at Archer Daniels Midland Company: “To me, it’s really refreshing to have some consumers who are embracing technology to this degree, to the extent that they may lead the mainstream their direction.”

Battling Land Use Challenges

As the global population grows, the great challenge to the environment over the next decade will be making more food with less space.

The average American consumes 215 pounds of meat a year. Raising that meat uses 32 million acres of land, and produces 82 million metric tons of greenhouse emissions.

“The real challenge for the planet is not going to be ‘Are we going to have enough oil or carbohydrates?’ it’s ‘Are we going to have enough protein?’” Matlock said. “We create protein the way a cow creates protein. … we have to think: where are our rare resources going to be put?”

A third of the corn crop grown in America feeds livestock.

Donna Schwenk is not surprised kefir has gone from relative obscurity in the U.S. to the new star of health food. The author — “Cultured Food in a Jar,” “Cultured Food for Health,” “Cultured Food for Life” — has been making and eating fermented foods for over two decades and, in the last few years, watched interest and research in probiotics climb.

Kefir is expected to grow to a $2.58 billion industry by 2027, increasing at a CAGR of 5.8%. 

“(If you want to improve gut health), drink kefir. It has the most probiotics, it’s the most versatile. You can strain off the whey and make kefir vegetables, kefir cheese, kefir soda, kefir dips, kefir smoothies. It has the most probiotics, it’s the easiest to make, and it’s the most life changing thing I’ve seen.”

Discovering Kefir

Schwenk was 41 when she received life-changing news: she was unexpectedly pregnant with her third child. Health problems plagued her through the pregnancy. She suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure and her liver was shutting down. Schwenk became so sick that her daughter, Holli, was born 8 weeks early.

“I felt so guilty she was born early to save my life,” Schwenk says.

The genesis story of most health food advocates usually begins with a personal health scare. In Schwenk’s case, she was searching for answers to help her premature daughter thrive. Schwenk read Sally Morell’s book, “Nourishing Traditions.” The kefir section piqued Schwenk’s interest. Morell details the benefits of kefir in her book — and the ease of making it. Kefir is made by using kefir grains to culture raw milk. Because kefir can be cultured at room temperature, it takes only 24 hours to make. The taste of kefir is tart, flavorful and refreshing.

A few weeks after regularly drinking kefir, Holli began sleeping through the night and started gaining weight, a key developmental milestone for a premature baby. Schwenk was drinking kefir, too, and her health improved. Her blood sugar levels stabilized and she felt better than she had in years. 

“I realized the answer to my prayers were in this jar that had billions and trillions of microorganisms in them that made me well. And I wanted to know why,” Schwenk says in a podcast with Kriben Govender, a food science and technology grad and founder of Gut Health Guru (Honours Degree in Food Science & Technology). “Microbes are where it’s at for me. They were my angels in disguise.”

Schwenk dove into the world of fermentation, making her own kefir, kombucha, cultured veggies and sourdough bread. She shares her DIY tips in her books and on her website Cultured Food Life.  Schwenk’s developed a loyal following of fellow home fermenters. Her tips have helped fermented food brands launch their businesses, too.

Fermented Drinks

Though she realizes many people are attracted to dairy-free water kefir, Schwenk is still a fan of milk kefir. She’s made vegan kefir, but says the greatest benefits are in milk kefir. She notes water kefir has 14 strands of bacteria and yeast, but milk kefir has over 50 strands. 

“When you ferment it, it completely changes the food. You put vitamin C into it and more B vitamins, you add more probiotics, you remove the lactose. You transform the food by fermenting it. It’s a completely different food than regular dairy,” Schwenk says.

Vegan kefirs are finicky. While kefir grains must be fed daily with raw milk, vegan kefir must be fed more. There are few carbohydrates in a coconut milk kefir, for example, and the bacteria feed of the carbs to make probiotics. She suggests adding a date paste to vegan kefir.

Regularly drinking kefir is key for health benefits, she adds. Schwenk says many fermented foods have “transient bacteria” — bacteria that is good for the body, but doesn’t dwell in the stomach or organs. It only lasts 2-3 days. Consuming more fermented foods replenishes that transient bacteria.

Kefir is not the only fermented drink star with incredible health properties. Schwenk is passionate about kombucha, too. Kombucha is strong artillery against potential viruses because of the saccharomyces yeast strain found in the fermented tea. Saccharomyces is the No. 1 probiotic yeast strain used in hospitals worldwide because it cannot be killed by probiotics.

“That’s one of the strong things that makes kombucha stand out and do its job more effectively. It actually acts like a pathogen in the body and it attracts pathogens to it and kills them. But it only lasts a few days in the body,” Schwenk says. “That’s one of the powerful weapons kombucha has that’s such a benefit to our own bodies, our own lives, and keeps us healthy. If you have to take an antibiotic, kombucha is a great thing to help keep your body in balance because it doesn’t get killed by antibodies.”

The Second Brain

Gut flora is a balance. The gut is often referred to as the “second brain” — neurotransmitters and other chemicals produced in the gut affect the brain.

“We’re made up of trillions of bacteria. We’re basically a big sack of bacteria walking around. When I connected to that, I healed my body and my mind,” Schwenk says.

Staff at TFA were getting ready to head to Anaheim for Natural Products Expo West, the enormous spring trade show, when, Monday night, the show’s producers announced it would be postponed because of mounting concerns about the coronavirus. New Hope Network, a division of Informa PLC, said they plan to announce by mid-April a new date for the conference.

In a statement on their website, New Hope wrote that the “natural products community has made it clear it doesn’t want the show to go on.” Reports indicated attendance — forecast to approach 85,000 at Expo West, the largest natural products show in the world —  would be down by up to 60% this year. It’s been reported that more than 200 exhibitors had pulled out of the show over the last few days.

Multiple members of the TFA advisory board traveled to Anaheim this week for Expo West.

“I was surprised they postponed considering how much money this makes for them.  But it makes sense,” says Kheedim Oh, founder of Mama O’s Kimchi. “I assumed it would still be on after finding out many buyers were pulling out because I doubted they would cancel.”

Oh estimates he lost $3,000 on Expo West. Though he was able to get a last-minute refund from his Airbnb host, flights, car rentals and shipping of product were all non-refundable.

Matt Reynolds, brand manager for Bubbies Fine Foods and Cook’s All Natural Pantry, said it’s not just money lost, but time, too. Expos are resource intensive. And “it’s hard to quantify that lost lead that could’ve been a game changer.”

“This Expo’s postponement seems to be somewhat unprecedented and is still unfolding on all sides,” Reynolds says. “Expos can be great for sales leads, vendor leads, as well as for customer and broker feedback and face time. Expos can also great for identifying trends and featuring new products. At best, postponing Expo West postpones these opportunities. At worst, we lose them.”

Fred Linder, Group President of New Hope Network, said: “As with all our events, it was the intention here at Expo West in Anaheim, to follow official guidance from local authorities and to listen to the voices of the community we serve and support, in order to maximize the health of the industry.”

“Today, it is clear the majority of those voices are saying they want Expo West but not this week. And so we are being guided by that majority in postponing the show.”

The statement continues that New Hope was planning to continue with the conference this week, at the advice of local government and health authorities from the City of Anaheim. Many brands were already setting up booths on the various trade show floors Monday.

But, notes New Hope Network: “In the particular case of New Hope’s Natural Products Expo, the situation has been very different in that the show was in-flight, with production underway, when the views of the community started to diverge. Some of our partners strongly advocated continuing with the show as planned. Some of our partners wanted the show, but not now, and some just wanted a straight-forward cancellation.”

“It is now clear…that the majority of our Community want the show, but they do not want it now.”

Last week, New Hope Network sent an “Update on Coronavirus” to attendees that the show would continue. They said: “The majority of our Chinese exhibitors are unable to participate in this year’s event and a small number of companies are reducing their presence due to corporate travel policies.”

Over the last few days, though, many brand leaders and industry professionals shared please on social media for the conference to be cancelled. Food Business News said, out of 3,600 exhibitors, 200 pulled out of the conference because of fears of the virus spreading or company travel restrictions.

John Foraker, co-founder and chief executive officer of Once Upon a Farm, told Food Business News that attending Expo West “makes no business sense” as retail buyers from such companies as Amazon, Kroger, Whole Foods Market and Target have cancelled attendance.

“The retailer cancellations have been so significant for us that there is little point to go,” Foraker said. “That combined with no less reason to be concerned about the (COVID-19) health risks for employees given news this weekend. The point of Expo is to sell and build our brand. We think that is not possible now, certainly relative to all the other considerations.”

There were an estimated 85,000 attendees at this year’s Expo West, and sampling food from different brands is a major part of the trade floor experience. Daniel Lubetzky, founder and executive chairman of Kind Healthy Snacks, posted an open letter on LinkedIn as to why his company would be pulling out of the conference:

“While we are hoping that (COVID-19) will not be as damaging as the fear it is fomenting, we decided that gathering with 30,000 people from across the world inside closed quarters to try tons of food samples was probably not the most prudent path forward this week, particularly as we don’t have enough information about (COVID-19). Our team members’ health is our paramount priority.”

Sagan Schultz, CEO at plant-based functional beverage brand WellWell, shared his views as a medical doctor in an open letter on LinkedIn:

“Over the last few weeks, COVID-19 has started behaving like the once-in-a-century pandemic academics have feared,” wrote Schultz, who is also a doctor. “It has the ability to kill healthy adults at a 1-2% case fatality rate making it similar to the 1918 Spanish Flu, and it has proven to spread quite efficiently and exponentially — each infected person on average can infect 2-3 others. So far COVID-19 has caused 10x more cases than SARS in a quarter of the time.”


We asked three fermentation experts if recent popularity of fermented foods is a fading trend or a new food movement. These industry professionals weigh in on their predictions for fermentation’s future. The fermenters include: Bri Warner (CEO of Atlantic Sea Farms, a commercially viable seaweed farm that makes kelp kraut and kimchi), Nicholas Gregory (owner of Pulp Hot Sauce, an Atlanta-based fermented condiment brand), Joshua Rood (co-founder and CEO Dr Hops Kombucha beer, a health-conscious alcohol).

Do you think the surge of fermented food and drinks is a trend will disappear or a new food movement here to stay?

Bri Warner, CEO Atlantic Sea Farms: “Now that we have a robust understanding of how good gut health effects overall health, I think fermentation is here to stay. I do think the category will continue to innovate to remain relevant, with a stronger focus on quality ingredients that are good for people, planet, and, in our case, oceans!”

Nicholas Gregory, owner Pulp Hot Sauce: “I think the current fermented food movement is here to stay. We are at an intersection of technology, science and health further than we have ever seen in human history. The internet, television, several seminal books and air travel have given us unprecedented exposure and access to information. This exposure and access to food and world cultures is more in depth than ever before. Including the food history and traditions of those cultures. Combine that awareness with a relatively intelligent and sophisticated medical system; an understanding of healthy lifestyles, a willingness to make healthy decisions, an understanding of the benefits of a healthy gut biome and how it all correlates to a longer, happier, healthier life. Along with a craving for umami and fermented funky flavors for a growing number of the population. I believe we are in the middle of a movement that shows no signs of slowing down or going away anytime soon. In fact, I see it only becoming more popular, more normal, more accepted, more diverse, more creative and more exciting in the decades to come.”

Joshua Rood, co-founder and CEO Dr Hops Kombucha beer: “As co-founder and CEO of Dr Hops Kombucha Beer, I appreciate that there is currently a powerful trend towards living, fermented foods. But answering the question of whether or not that will continue is repugnant. We here at Dr Hops are driving that trend! We are not playing the game of hoping that it will simply continue. We are committing ourselves, each day, to the life-enhancing awesomeness of fresh, authentic, fermented foods and beverages. Please join us in that! Join us in leading the health-conscious food and beverage revolution!”



Cheese making is a craft steeped in tradition. But as industry-altering trends emerge — like innovative ingredients, plant-based dairy, sustainable operations — how can cheese creameries compete?

At the Winter Fancy Food Show, heads of two specialty cheese companies in Northern California shared their insight about innovations and trends in specialty cheese.

Consumers are shunning processed cheese for specialty, small-scale, fermented, farmstead brands. Research from Winsight Grocery Business shows that specialty cheese sales are growing. Though sales of dairy-based cheese dipped in 2019, specialty cheese sales are up 2%

Using Innovative Ingredients

“In cheese, the great thing is that tradition is always up-to-date,” says Manon Servouse, brand manager for Marin French Cheese. Founded in 1865, Marin French Cheese still uses the traditional art of French cheese making, but “we add innovation with inspiration from our local area” in Marin County, California, where Marin’s operations are located.

Marin’s new ingredients include adding jalapeno, truffle and ash coating.

Laura Chenel cheese, meanwhile, is also experimenting with new flavors. The goat cheese brand based in Sonoma County, California adds bacterial cultures to their goat milk, a fermentation process that produces a distinct flavor. Laura Chenel’s newest cheese won a Good Food Award this year. The aged goat cheese, called Crottin, develops a specific rind on the cheese, which aids the cheese’s flavor. 

Competing with Plant-Based Cheese

Eric Barthome, CEO of Laura Chenel, says though plant-based cheese is becoming a force in the food industry, plant-based is not their audience.

“The real cheese lovers like cheese made with milk,” Barthome says. “And that’s what we want to do. We’ve been working on the quality of the milk for so long that, yes, there’s room for new products and new cheese made with plant-based products. However, our credo is really to continue to make the best milk to make the best…real goat cheese we can make.”

Plant-based foods are becoming mainstream. U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods grew 11% the past year, according to research by the the Plant Based Food Association and Good Food Institute. Sales of the total plant-based market was $4.5 billion. That figure goes beyond cheese, and includes plant-based milks, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and meat. Plant-based meats are the leading sales driver for plant-based products.

Though plant-based cheese sales are growing, milk-based cheese topped $18 billion in sales in 2019, with specialty cheese sales growing the fastest.

Manon says people are turning to plant-based products because they’re concerned about animal welfare. She noted, at Marin French Cheese, they work with two small creameries to get their milk to monitor the health of the animals. They run small-scale to produce high-quality milk. 

Importance of Sustainability 

Running an environmentally sustainable creamery is key to successfully operating a modern cheese creamery.

Laura Chenel was sold to  the French Triballat family in 2006, and the new leaders decided to build a new creamery in Sonoma County. The new facility reduced the use of natural resources by using water more efficiently, utilizing solar energy, implementing natural lighting and retooling waste management. The new creamery is the only LEED gold certified cheese creamery in the world.

“Very important to us is respect for the environment, respect for tradition and respect for the animals,” Barthome says. 

“Why do some foods like chocolate, wine and cheese taste so delicious? Fermenting magically transforms their original ingredients into something more desirable. Besides upping flavor, some lactic-acid ferments, such as homemade sauerkraut, actually strengthen your immune system.”

Rebecca Wood, “Fermented Foods Strengthen Immune System

Kombucha has its first international holiday. On February 21, kombucha brewers and consumers around the world will celebrate World Kombucha Day.

Kombucha dates back over 2,000 years to 221 B.C. The fermented tea is one of the fastest growing beverages in the world. Kombucha is estimated to reach $3.5 billion in international sales by 2025, with one third of that  in U.S. sales. Hannah Crum, founder and president of Kombucha Brewers International (KBI), a non-profit trade association (and an affiliate of TFA), believes 2020 will be the decade kombucha becomes mainstream.

Educating the public, though, is the key step to making kombucha a recognized wellness drink. KBI began the World Kombucha Day initiative and is encouraging brands to host events, offer free tastings and partner with retails for in-store promotions.

Since KBI started six years ago, Crum has watched the small kombucha labels that joined KBI transform into big brands. She sees the kombucha industry growing not with big kombucha labels but with small craft brands. If consumers in small towns all over the world start purchasing kombucha, local producers will need to drive that growth, Crum adds.

“And it opens the door for all these other fermented products to come in,” Crum adds. “Drinking vinegar, shrubs, water kefir, even sauerkraut and fermented vegetables. Local brands will drive the entire fermented food and drink category.”

Below, a Q&A with Crum on World Kombucha Day and how kombucha can maintain their growth momentum. 

Question: Why a World Kombucha Day?

Hannah Crum: Kombucha’s mythological origins hearken back to 221 BC in China. The Chinese are famous for their quest for longevity with their elixirs. It’s been part of the story of kombucha, this mythological origin. So 221, at least in the American system, translates to February 21st. What better year to launch it than in 2020.

Why World Kombucha Day? To celebrate the culture of kombucha. Obviously drinking a commercial brand is how I first heard about kombucha. It’s how most people first experience kombucha, even though home brewing has been around for a long time. It’s a way for people to raise awareness about kombucha, to be excited about what it is, to honor its Asian roots, and to really help more people know about kombucha.

This is the decade when kombucha becomes a household name. Launching this world kombucha day in 2020, in this decade, is that first step towards building excitement around kombucha. Not just the drink being trendy, because i think it’s going to last longer than a trend. It’s getting more people to wake up to how wonderful this product is. 

We think of kombucha as a gateway. Kombucha isn’t an end point. We don’t stop at kombucha, we start with kombucha. From kombucha, people move to other products in the fermentation association, now it’s sauerkraut and kimchi and kvas and water kefir. I don’t even think we could see this many water kefir brands starting to emerge if kombucha didn’t exist. 

Q: Tell me the process of making World Kombucha Day an official “day.”

HC: The process is pretty straight forward and basically just means coming up with the day and promoting it. We have applied to some of the calendars and apparently if you pay enough money, you can even make it onto the National Holiday Calendar.

Q: What are you hoping brands will do to celebrate World Kombucha Day? 

HC: I’m hoping they’ll elevate kombucha into the consciousness. That can be providing education, and education could come in the form of free samples or offering a promo at your favorite store. It’s on a Friday this year — if you happen to be at a farmers market or you happen to have a tap room, why not host an education event. 

Really it’s this opportunity to engage with your community, do this outreach and to help people understand what kombucha is. Because so many people still either haven’t heard the word, they don’t know what it is, they’re afraid of it, they’ve tried it and think its weird, whatever it is, just giving them another touch point, another opportunity to hear about it, another opportunity to try it without having to pay $3-5 per bottle in order to see what it’s like. 

People can add events to our World Kombucha Day calendar based on region. This is free, open to all kombucha producers, not just KBI members. While World Kombucha Day is a KBI initiative, it’s really about the category of kombucha. 

Q: Tell me more about KBI origins. Why did you create KBI ?

HC: It started with our business, Kombucha Kamp, and our mission: changing the world, one gut at a time. 

KBI also comes from looking at our culture which works in symbiosis. We’ve always understood we can’t do this alone, we have to do this in partnership, we have to be in community. Changing the gut one world at a time, knowing we can’t do it alone, and how do most people find out about kombucha? Again it’s through a commercial product.

In 2010, we had that incident where Whole Foods took all the kombucha off of store shelves and it really creates a lot of fear. It’s a trauma point that we’ve continued to have to work through together. That is what inspired us to come together and really make this work.

We know: people don’t really understand what kombucha is. When you don’t know about something, you’re afraid of it. People worry “I’m going to get bad bacteria in my brew and harm myself.” Well, that’s highly unlikely, just like any fermented food. The only reason they still exist today is because they’ve always been so incredibly safe to make and pass around or they would have been on the compost heap of history ages ago.

So knowing that there was a need, we have a unique roll. We’ve already been doing some cross-category marketing. We did a 30-day kombucha challenge, we did a New Years re-evolution, which were all designed to raise awareness about the category.

So I nominated myself to head KBI and Alex (Crum’s husband), God love him, supported me. We started with KKon (KombuchaKon) in 2014, and here we are about to have our 7th annual show, our 5th annual trade show. We’ve grown from 40 members to over 300. We’ve always been international though, which is unique. We’ve always had people from around the world participating with us.

Q: Is the U.S. leading the growing kombucha popularity?

HC: Yes. America leads the world  because this is where the commercial industry started. GT’s is going to celebrate his 25th anniversary this year. Kombucha has been a commercially available product for 25 years. Even now its taken this long, right, even in the early years it wasn’t around until 2010 when it started to pick up steam and we started to see more brands proliferate. Now here in 2020, we’re going to make it a household name.

Just like yogurt wasn’t a household staple, it was something hippies had to make at home on their countertops themselves, then it was turned into a multi-billion dollar industry. And that’s exactly what we see kombucha becoming. What we see isn’t the opportunity for a bunch of processed food companies. Rather its a bunch of small, family-owned businesses that serve local communities with a fresh product. That’s what’s different and unique about all the fermentation businesses.

I love Farmhouse Cultures — I just bought a bottle of their kraut juice — I look on the back and they’re adding vinegar to it. You can’t keep up when you’re a massive brand and you’re going to have to take shortcuts. To me, yes it tastes good, but its not kraut juice, its vinegar and kraut juice. Unfortunately, that’s just what happens when you go too big with certain things.

People in the 21st Century are looking for viable opportunities with a job that makes you feel good about the work you’re doing and that helps your local communities, and it’s important for these communities to have access to really fresh, nutrient-dense foods. So I always advise people: there’s an opportunity, as long as you’re not afraid of hard work. I advise people its a labor of love, emphasis on the labor. But I also think that if you’re someone who wants to be in your community doing good, this is a great way to do it.

Q: Do you think that’s how the kombucha industry is going to  grow — more small producers than large?

HC: Exactly right. There’s always going to be a certain number of large producers and brands that want to pursue that type of dream, but it’s a huge trade off. Sure you might end up with a bigger paycheck in the end, but you also give up so much of your life and energy in order to make it profitable.

You’re never going to have another GT’s Kombucha. He was first to market. That was a rare opportunity. Were not likely to see an individually or privately owned brand get to that type of level unless they have investment and if you take on an investment, now you are beholden to other people’s ideas about your business.

Look at the beer industry and how things have happened there. New Belgium just sold to a major food corporation from Asia because even economies of scale aren’t sustainable if you don’t continue to have capital infusions. So if you’re looking for a model that will stay sustainable over time, I think it is staying small, having a local footprint, and again that’s better for the planet, better for the community. The reason products need super long shelf lives on them is because it’s being shipped massive distances. If you only have to go to your local place to get kombucha fresh, you don’t have to put so much processing into your products.

Q: Tell me what you’re seeing in the industry now — are craft beer brewers entering the market? Bigger commercial soda brands?

HC: All of these entrants, it’s exciting. What they are seeing are dollar signs and opportunities. Especially as they see their sales slipping. It’s true for craft beer as it is for soda. 

That’s just reflecting how consumers are changing their tastes over time. It’s always healthy to diversify. The reality is what we would love — Coca-Cola started as a health drink, selling in pharmacies, with actual essences and things that were good for you. And now it’s turned into a fake version of a real thing, full of fake ingredients. How wonderful would it be for us as an industry, for us to bring them back to the good side. Don’t poison people with your cheap products and aspartame and things that are known to be toxins. Let’s try to make this something that brings about positive change to everybody. 

We love beer too! I think what we’ll also start to see is the benefits of unfiltered beer. I personally believe that pasteurization and these processing steps that remove the yeast or all of the living nutrients from beer basically creates products that don’t deliver on the nutritional promise that was guaranteed for our ancestors.

We crave bubbles because our ancestors understood that meant that nutrients were present in a living form. And so many people have come to find they can’t tolerate carbonated water — well that’s carbonic acid, it’s not natural organic acids, it’s not all of the yeast and nutrients present in yeast. 

The conflict is always these are tough products to control. That’s again where the model of having several small producers is actually better.

Q: What are some of the greatest myths consumers believe about kombucha? How can brands debunk the myths?

HC: In the headlines, we get the two polarizing viewpoints — kombucha is the miracle elixir that will save your life and kombucha is snake oil that is dangerous. The reality is the truth is always somewhere in the middle. This is not a beverage for everybody. That’s because we have so many people dealing with a healing crisis. However, there is a ferment for everyone. So either its a miracle cure — or it will kill you. Both of those are the greatest myths. 

Will you feel a benefit from drinking kombucha? Absolutely. We have a research study we presented last year showing how kombucha impacts inflammation and stress markers. They’ve taken that study to the next step, which we’ll be hearing those results at KKon this year.

People have provided anecdotal information for how kombucha has helped them with a wide range of inclement for hundreds, thousands of years, right. And so often science wants to ignore that information. But truly that’s the jumping off point for studying something, for understanding something. It is because of the anecdotal information.

Science is a method of inquiry. The phenomenon already exists. We just don’t necessarily know what’s driving it until we engage in scientific inquiry. So this idea that science is settled, that we already know everything, is ridiculous. It’s human hubris to think that. What I think is exciting is in this 21st Century, we continue to do the research and validate the anecdotal claims, and again not everything is for everybody. Some people are allergic to shrimp, strawberries, you name it, there are people who can be allergic to anything and all that says is we’re diverse and not everything is for everybody and that’s OK. Honestly, I think what’s exciting about our industry is you try one kombucha and don’t like it — try another. It’s going to taste totally different. It’s not a miracle, but it’s not going to kill you. It’s not for everyone, but it helps a lot of people. And that’s what World Kombucha Day tries to do — to introduce you to kombucha and see where you land on that spectrum. 

Q: What is driving kombucha’s popularity in the past few years?

HC: Microbiome. The rise of autoimmune disease and metabolic disease. People are sick of being sick and start to turn to food to get better because they’ve heard you can get better with certain types of food or by changing their diet. And while they are not getting that advice from their doctors, unless they’re seeing a naturopath or something like that, I think people out of desperation are turning to their diet because they’re just so uncomfortable with where they’re at healthwise. That to me is truly what’s fueling the fueling popularity of this product. So many people consume it, and they say they “Just feel good.” What does that mean, how do you quantify that? Is it just my tummy feels more settled? There’s a whole range of things that could refer to. And I think that’s really what’s driving it.

People are waking up. They realize now they’ve been lied to by packaged foods — I call it poisoned in prepackaging by pretty people. How many sodas is Beyonce drinking to be that shape? You know there’s mythology when they’ve put these packages in people’s hands but that’s not who’s actually drinking this on a regular basis. 

Especially this younger generation is more critical of advertising and more critical of doing what everyone else has done until now. They are starting to recognize “Hey what are all  these weird flavorings and chemicals in my food and water?” and “Hey I thought someone was in charge of and managing this?” and then you find out, no, corporations are actually still allowed to dump toxins into the water supply, we still have lead in Michigan and Flint. This mythology of a government that cares for you is being broken down. For good reason. Unfortunately, the forces that be are trying to maintain a status quo because they make money off people being sick for so long. But that really is that change — I’m not saying kombucha will cure everything. Buts it’s a gateway. It’s a gateway to healing your body, getting some kind of relief, and seeing there’s a world of other choices you can make that are going to yield different health benefits.

Q: The soda industry is rapidly declining. Do you think kombucha can capture those consumers?

HC: One thousand percent. Really Who is our competition? It’s not other kombucha brands. Its soda companies, it’s energy drink companies, it’s soda water companies, it’s seltzer water companies, it’s “smart water” that’s water with some electrolytes, it’s Gatorade. It’s all this manufactured, lab-created junk. Supplements will never be as good as the real thing. And kombucha is a real thing — it’s a real fermented beverage. It’s what soda aspires to be.

Fermented food and beverages reigned at the 2020 Good Food Awards. The annual Good Food Awards honors American craft food producers. Over a hundred fermented brands beat out 1,835 entrants to take home top honors. 

Craft food makes over $200 billion in revenue a year. The 17 categories include: beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, cider, coffee, confections, elixirs, fish, grains, honey, oils, pantry, pickles, preserves, snacks and spirits.

From the Good Food Foundation: “For a long time, certifications for responsible practices and awards for superior taste have remained distinct – one honors social and environmental responsibility, while the other celebrates craftsmanship and flavor. The Good Food Awards recognizes that truly good food – the kind that brings people together and builds strong, healthy communities – contains all of these ingredients.”

Read our article for an overview on the fermentation brands that won awards this year.

1000 Faces Coffee – Luis Ordoñez (Athens, Georgia). With a “mission to connect the coffee consumers and coffee producer,” 1000 Faces Coffee is a coffee roaster that travels to countries of origin to work with producers. 

21 Degrees Estate Cacao Farm – Kahalu`u Gold (Kaneohe, Hawaii). A family-operated boutique cacao farm on the windward side of the island of Oahu. 21 Degrees sells chocolate and offers tours. 

Albemarle CiderWorks – Harrison (North Garden, Virgina). A 20-year-old apple orchard, CiderWorks makes 15 varieties of cider in their cideries, selling by the bottle or by glass in their taproom.

Aldi – VitaLife Organic Ginger Awakening Kombucha (Batavia, Illinois). The fermented tea is made by VitaLife, a brand made by the discount supermarket chain Aldi.

Allagash Brewing Company – Crosspath (Portland, Maine). This independent craft brewer sells beers using a traditional, Belgian method of spontaneous fermentation.

Almanac Beer Co – Apricot Sournova (Alameda, California). Farm-to-barrel brewing, Almanac uses mixed-culture to make their beers, which allows continuous fermentation over months with real fruit in oak barrels. 

Apologue Spirited Liqueurs – Saffron Liqueur (Chicago, Illinois). A locally-sourced liquer maker that “elevate classic cocktail recipes.”

Askinosie Chocolate – Dark Chocolate & Red Raspberry CollaBARation™ Bar (Springfield, Missouri). One of Forbes’ 25 Best Small Companies In America, Askinosie Chocolate uses single origin, Direct Trade cocoa beans. 

Atlantic Sea Farms – Sea-Chi (Saco, Maine). The first commercially viable seaweed farm in the U.S., Atlantic Sea Farms was founded in 2009. The clean, fresh Sea-Chi is made with raw kelp, cabbage and radish. 

Backyard Beans Coffee Co. – Ethiopia Basa (Lansdale, Pennsylvania). A coffee roaster using responsibly sourced coffee beans, the light roast is an Ethiopian heirloom variety.

Barrington Coffee Roasting Company – Gera (Lee, Massachusetts). Sustainable coffee with delicate violet and blueberry aromas with fruit flavors of strawberry, peach and hard candy and soft tones of cocoa, molasses and licorice root.

Beltex Meats – Pate Forestier (Salt Lake City, Utah). A nose-to-tail, whole animal butcher sourcing regional meat, Beltex Meat’s Pate Forestier is part of the in-house charcuterie program. It’s comprised of pork shoulder and liver, chicken liver, and foie gras.

Big B’s Hard Cider – Harry Masters Jersey (Hotchkiss, Colorado). A farmstead hard cider made with fruit from the orchard and fermented in the cidery.

Big Easy Bucha – Bayou Berry Kombucha (New Orleans, Louisiana). A kombucha brand fermented with Southern flavors. Bayou Berry is infused with strawberry and honeysuckle. 

Blackberry Farm – Sobrasada (Walland, Tennessee). Sobrasada is Blackberry Farm’s version of a raw, cured, fermented Spanish sausage, made from American Iberico pigs raised at White Oak Pastures in southern Georgia. 

Blackberry Farm – Brebis (Walland, Tennessee). Blackberry Farm’s seasonal fresh sheep’s milk cheese. 

Blackberry Farm – Hawkins Haze (Walland, Tennessee). An ashed surface-ripened sheep’s milk cheese named after the Hawkins line that runs through the property. 

Blue Bus Cultured Foods – Local Cortido (White Salmon, Washington). A sauerkraut popular in Salvadoran cuisine, the organic kraut is made with cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic and spices.

Bourbon Barrel Foods – Imperial Double Fermented Soy Sauce (Louisville, Kentucky). Naturally brewed, double fermented soy sauce. It is aged in bourbon barrels and features earthy flavors. 

California Fish Sauce – Koji Fish Sauce (Pleasanton, California). The first fish sauce in the U.S. that is compliant with FDA and FDB regulations, from harvesting anchovies to fermentation and finished product. 

Capriole – Sofia (Greenville, Indiana). A sweet, dense, ripened goat cheese from local goats.

Cascadia Creamery – Sleeping Beauty (Trout Lake, Washington). A buttery and sharp cheese with a natural rind, aged 75 to 100 days. 

Case Coffee Roasters – Ethiopia Dimtu (Ashland, Oregon). Sustainably sourced coffee from beans all over the globe. Roasted in small batches for sweeter, complex flavors. 

Casella’s Salumi Speciali – Casella’s Prosciutto Speciale (Hurleyville, New York). An American made meat made using Italian tradition. Slow, on-the-bone curing.

Castronovo Chocolate – Tumaco, Colombia Dark Milk 60% (Stuart, Florida). A dark milk chocolate made with cocoa from the Pacific coast of Colombia. The cacao beans are foraged in indigenous forests, then fermented and dried in an onsite facility using solar panels. 

Champlain Orchards Cidery – Honeycrisp (Shoreham, Vermont). A single-varietal cider using fresh-pressed Honeycrisp apples. All apples are pressed, fermented, and crafted at the orchard.

Champlain Orchards Cidery – Redfield – Estate Series (Shoreham, Vermont). Made with estate grown Redfield apples. These red crab apple hybrids create a fragrant, sour cherry flavor.

Chequessett Chocolate – White Lemon Thyme Bar (North Truro, Massachusetts). A white chocolate with lemon and thyme, the chocolate-making process begins with high-quality beans, then a flavor developed during fermentation. 

Cherry Grove Farm – Havilah (Lawrenceville, Nj, New Jersey). Cheese from the cows at Cherry Grove Farm, a sustainable farm. Batches are aged 14 to 16 months. 

Cleophus Quealy Beer Company – Frambozenbier (San Leandro, California). Sour red ale barrel-aged with raspberries. Small batches are brewed seven barrels at a time. 

Compelling Coffee – Ethiopia Bedhatu Jibicho (Los Angeles, California). Beans are fermented in ceramic tile tanks filled with clean spring water for 24 hours. The beans are then fermented a second time for another 24 hours. 

Creo Chocolate – Caramelized Milk Chocolate (Portland, Oregon). The fruit inside the cacao bean is fermented for 4- 7 days to bring out the flavor of the beans.

Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea – Kossa Kebena (Columbus, Ohio). From Crimson Cup’s line of Friend2Farmer direct-trade coffees, Kossa Kebena is produced from heirloom cacao beans naturally fermented on raised beds. 

Cutwater Spirits – Three Sheets Cask Strength Rum (San Diego, California). Crafted from pure cane sugar rather than molasses, the rum is distilled in a hybrid pot-and-column still.

Daniel’s Artisan – Bonneville (Ferndale, Washington). Traditional, artisan cheese made through Ferndale Farmstead cheese company. Ferndale uses a seed-to-cheese philosophy, only using milk they produce from cows they raise, fed from crops they grow. 

Equator Coffees – Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda Gesha (San Rafael, California). A light roast sustainably sourced from Panama, it features flavors of peach, apricot and Meyer lemon. 

Falcon Spirits Distillery – Aperitivo Aplomado (Richmond, California). A blend of 26 high-quality herbs, roots, flowers and fruits with no artificial flavors. Made in small batches that take two months to create.

Fra’ Mani Handcrafted Foods – Salame Toscano (Berkeley, California). All natural pork made in the Tuscan tradition. 

Fruition Chocolate – Spring Salted Dark Milk 56% (Shokan, New York). Seeds from pods are fermented in bins and covered with burlap or banana leaves for 3-8 days.

Fullsteam – Farm’s Edge: Barrel-Aged Ava (Durham, North Carolina). A mixed culture saison made with foraged wild grape leaves and elderflower and rested in red wine barrels. 

Goat Rock Cider Company – Rosé Cider (Healdsburg, California). A fruit cider made by co-fermenting local, organic apples with Hawaiian passion fruit.

Goodnow Farms Chocolate – Special Reserve with Las Palomas Coffee (Sudbury, Massachusetts). A single-origin coffee and cacao bar, the chocolate is a fruity flavor thanks to the Guatemalan coffee beans. 

Gowan’s Heirloom Cider – Macintosh Applewine Cider (Philo, California). A farm-to-table cider, the Macintosh apples used in the cider are grown at Gowan orchards to be pressed, fermented and bottled at the farm.

Gowan’s Heirloom Cider – Gravenstein Cider (Philo, California). Called summer in a glass, the cider is made using fresh Gravenstein apples from the farm’s heritage orchards. 

Green Dirt Farm – Fresh – Plain (Weston, Missouri). A fresh, spreadable cheese.

Gypsy Circus Cider Company – PuppetMaster: Whiskey Barrel Vaudevillian (Kingsport, Tennessee). A wild cider aged in whisky barrels for 15 months with apricots.

H+S Coffee Roasters – Kenya Chwele (Laramie, Wyoming). A Kenyan coffee with complex flavors of raspberry, black plum, sour skin, cherry taffy, mango, tropical fruits and stone fruits.

Hemly Cider – Sloughouse Jalapeno Pear Cider (Courtland, California). Made on a six-generation farm, the cider starts with hand-picked Bartlett pears blended with estate grown Gala apples. 

HOSAco – The Standard Fermented Hot Sauce (Bellingham, Washington). A condiment made in small batches with all-natural ingredients. Chiles are hand processed and fermented for a minimum of six weeks.

Idyll Farms – Mont Idyll (Northport, Michigan). Named a “Best Artisanal Cheese” by Food & Wine Magazine, the soft ripened rind is delicately painted with vegetable ash. 

Incontro Cured – Salame di Bue (Richmond, California). Made from a Sanke River Farms American Wagyu. 

Incontro Cured – Salame Sicilia (Richmond, California). Salame honoring the Sicilian lineage, it’s made from ingredients growing wildly throughout the Island of Sicily, Italy.

JAZ Spirits – Cold Tree Gin (Clackamas, Oregon). Inspired by the elegant old growth forests of Oregon, a spirit crafted with flavors of botanical, fruit and old tree harvests. 

JAZ Spirits – Verstovia Spruce Tip Vodka (Clackamas, Oregon). A vodka foraged from the coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest, distilled with the fresh green tips of Sitka Spruce trees.

​JBC Coffee Roasters – Janson Geisha Lot #109 (Madison, Wisconsin). Direct trade coffee that is named one of the best coffee roasters by Forbes. 

Kickapoo Coffee – Kenya Mbeguka (Viroqua, Wisconsin). Made with a Kenyan coffee bean, the coffee is made with a dry fermentation.

Klatch Coffee – Colombia Finca La Maria Geisha Natural (Rancho Cucamonga, California). The highest-scoring coffee at the 2019 U.S. Brewing Championships, the coffee has flavor notes of raspberry, black tea and floral flavors.

KMN Enterprises – K Bloody Mary Mix (Brooklyn, New York). Made in small batches using 87% organic ingredients. 

Lakefront Brewing – Beerline Barleywine (Milwaukee, Wisconsin). The nation’s first organic barrel-aged barley wine in the U.S., the beer is held for 18 months in rye whiskey barrels.

Leopold Bros – Summer Gin (Denver, Colorado). Ingredients include Spanish blood oranges, French immortal flowers, juniper berries and Australian lemon myrtle. 

Letherbee Distillers – Original Label Gin (Chicago, Illinois). Gin incorporated with a blend of 11 botanical spirits. 

Liberty Ciderworks – English Style IV (Spokane, Washington).Classic cider in a aroma-rich, English-style cider.

Linea – Guatemala El Injerto Reserve (San Francisco, California).Coffee from Guatemala’s first carbon-neutral certified farm. 

Little Apple Treats – Strawberry + Pink Peppercorn Shrub (Sebastopol, California). Fresh, organic strawberries and fresh, organic pink peppercorn leaves and fruit combine with award-winning apple cider vinegar. It contains live vinegar mother, so it’s potent with probiotics.

Little Beast Brewing – Bes – Tart Wheat Ale (Beaverton, Oregon). Brewed with Belgian malts, Lemon Drop Hops and chamomile flower then fermented with a blend of unique Saccharomyces yeast and conditioned with Lactobacillus. 

Little Beast Brewing – Golden Stone (Beaverton, Oregon). A blend of peaches, nectarines and apricots gives a luscious elegance to this farmhouse ale. Prevailing notes of vanilla, toasted French oak & juicy stone fruit.

Loma Coffee – Ethiopia Shantawene Village – Anaerobic Process (Portland, Oregon). Heirloom coffee from Ethiopia, this coffee is anaerobic fermented and tastes floral, sweet and complex.

Love Hard, Inc. – Jojo’s Sriracha – OG (Pueblo, Colorado). Handmade Sriracha made with chile peppers from small farms in Pueblo, Colorado. The chili peppers are harvested in-season and fermented for several months. 

Madrone Cider – The Reserve Blend (Friday Harbor, Washington). Naturally fermented in bottle, apples are sourced from Bellevue Farms on San Juan Island, Washington. The hard cider apples are bred specifically for flavor. 

Mudhouse Coffee Roasters – Moras Negras, Mi Finquita Coffee Farm (Charlottesville, Virginia). A sundried, natural processing style, the coffee features complex fruit and floral flavors. 

My Artisano Cheeses – Ervie Cheese (Cincinnati, Ohio). Washed rind soft cheese with balanced cream, and yeasty notes. Amild version of Belgian washed rind cheeses.

Napili Fresh Local Organic Farm – Pineapple, Ginger, Turmeric Sauerkraut (Lahaina, Hawaii). Artisanal, naturally fermented sauerkraut made in Hawaii with organic ingredients. 

Napili Fresh Local Organic Farm – Gut Shots (Lahaina, Hawaii). Kimchi gut shots handcrafted in Maui. 

Nettle Meadow Farm – Kunik (Warrensburg, New York). Artisanal goat cheese made on a 100-acre farm.

Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters – Carmen Geisha (Dallas, Texas). A micro-roaster, the Carmen Geisha is a small batch sourced from Finca Carmen in Volcán, Panama

OlyKraut – Eastern European Sauerkraut (Olympia, Washington). One of the most popular flavors, the caraway seeds and apple give it a distinct flavor in the live probiotic kraut.

OlyKraut – Organic Smoke & Kale Sauerkraut (Olympia, Washington). Combines smoked chiles with local kale bounty from Pacific Northwest farmers.

Olympia Provisions – Chorizo Rioja (Portland, Oregon). A Spanish-style salami with both sweet and smoked paprika, garlic and oregano.

Olympia Provisions – Rosette de Oregon (Portland, Oregon). A French-inspired salami made with all Oregon ingredients: Oregon pork, pinot noir, rosemary, juniper, and sea salt.  

Oregon Brineworks – Sauerkraut (Hood River, Oregon). Naturally fermented, raw sauerkraut made with organic, lacto-fermented vegetables. 

Pagosa Brewing & Grill – Cool Cucumber Wheat (Pagosa Springs, Colorado). A fruit beer infused with fresh cucumbers.

Pappy & Company – Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel Aged Pure Maple Syrup (Louisville, Kentucky). A one-of-a-kind syrup bursting with flavors of vanilla, butter, oak and bourbon. Aged in Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels.

Patric Chocolate – 67% Madagascar (Columbia, Missouri). A limited release bar made from American craft chocolate company from the cocoa bean. 

Patric Chocolate – 67% Piura Peru (Columbia, Missouri). Peru cacao beans create chocolate with ruby grapefruit, toasted almonds and sun-dried wine grapes. 

Pennyroyal Farm – Reserve Boont Corners (Boonville, California). Made of fresh, raw milk, it is inspired by French cheese as a means of preserving nutrients from the abundant summer milk.

Penstock Coffee – Taaroo Mill, Ethiopia (Highland Park, New Jersey). The coffee is fermented for 24-36 hours, then dried for 12-20 days. The coffee is intensely sweet with heavy fruits. 

Perennial Artisan Ales – Giant Steps: Blend 2 (St. Louis, Missouri). A 50/50 blend of two distinct threads: Half puncheon fermented mixed culture saison with grapefruit zest and juice, and half barrel fermented clean saison aged on 2nd use raspberries and blackberries.

Port City Brewing Company – Optimal Wit (Alexandria, Virginia). A  a Belgian Witbier style beer, Optimal Wit includes ingredients like Virginia-grown wheat, Spanish orange peels, and coriander.

Port City Brewing Company – Rivershed Ale (Alexandria, Virginia). An American Pale Ale (APA) style beer, Rivershed Ale is dry-hopped with 100% locally sourced grain.

PUSH X PULL COFFEE – Ethiopia Sidama Shantawene Anaerobic Process (Portland, Oregon). Ethiopian coffee with flavors of strawberries and tangerine.

Real Pickles – Organic Nettle Kraut (Greenfield, Massachusetts). Naturally fermented, small batch kraut, infused with Vermont nettles. 

Real Pickles – Organic Beet Kvass (Greenfield, Massachusetts). Fermented infusion of beets, onions and savory herbs.

Red Rooster Coffee Roaster – Ethiopia Nansebo Worka (Floyd, Virginia). This washed process organic coffee is sourced from the Zenebe Simbret Washing Station, Flavors include honeysuckle and rose aroma, sweet ripe plum, fresh apricot and pomegranate acidity.

Reuben’s Brews – Hazealicious IPA (Seattle, Washington). An IPA with tropical fruit notes, in particular passion fruit. The stars of the show are the big, bright hops with restrained bitterness providing balance.

Reverend Al’s Bona Fide Potents – Strawberry Peppercorn Shrub (Tacoma, Washington). Reverend Al’s Bona Fide Potents are a collection of all natural, nearly mystical, alchemetical concoctions– magical bitters, elixirs, tinctures and shrubs. Made with locally grown fruits and vegetables from family farms. 

Salt and Savour – Apple Ginger Sauerkraut (Dunsmuir, California). Fermented, organic sauerkraut, handcrafted in small batches.

Salute! – Vicario Amore Mio Aperitivo (Greer, South Carolina). Made with a 115-year-old recipe using “vanishing” herbs, hard to find herbal ingredients that Salute now grows themselves.

Shrub Farm – Ginger & Hawaiian Chili Shrub (Bellingham, Washington). A spicy ginger and chili shrub. Shelf stable with a living culture with the Mother of vinegar.

Sierra Nevada Cheese Company – Bella Capra Raw Milk Monterrey Jacques (Willows, California). Made with raw cultured goat’s milk, the “complex array of flavors” results from “naturally occurring healthy micro-organisms present in our fresh milk.” 

SILO Distillery – Vodka (Windsor, Vermont). Made with 100% Vermont corn, gluten-free and non-GMO.

Smoking Goose Meatery – Whey Fed Dodge City Salame (Indianapolis, Indiana). Old world style of meat curing with a new world flavor. The Dodge City Salame is a pork salame of fennel pollen and pink peppercorns.

Smoking Goose Meatery – Duck Prosciutto (Indianapolis, Indiana). Moulard duck breast with star anise, allspice and orange peel.

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers – Bootleggers Black Lager (San Francisco, California). Founded in 1997, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers is a San Francisco craft brewery bringing great beer from the underground to the masses. The brewery makes year-round and limited release beers.

Speckled Ax Wood Roasted Coffee – Ethiopia Jebicho (Portland, Maine). Coffee roaster in a vintage Italian Petroncini fired with local hardwood.

Spirit Works Distillery – Sloe Gin (Sebastopol, California). “Batch by batch – grain to glass.” Made with sloe berries, the crimson-colored gin has a unique sweet-and-sour taste.

Spyhouse Coffee Roasting Co. – Juan Domingo / Guatemala (Minneapolis, Minnesota). Rich flavors of chocolate hazelnut and deep fruitiness.

Steady State Roasting – La Pradera Mokka  (Carlsbad, California). A Colombian coffee from the mokka tree.

Stem Ciders – New Hampshire Heritage (Lafayette, Colorado). Unfiltered cider made from a blend of bittersharp and bittersweet heirloom apples from a local orchard. 

Stonecutter Spirits – Heritage Cask Whiskey (Middlebury, Vermont). The Heritage Cask Whiskey is distilled in Kentucky like a bourbon, aged in Vermont like an Irish whiskey, and finished like a Scotch.

Stormalong Cider – Light of the Sun (Sherborn, Massachusetts). A citrusy, refreshing cider dry-hopped with Citra & Ekaunot hops. At the time of dry-hopping, Stormalong Cider adds guava to enhance the tropical, citrusy taste which is on the drier side.

Sugar Bob’s Finest Kind – Smoked Maple Sriracha (Londonderry, Vermont). Made with real maple syrup, this all natural Smoked Maple Sriracha has become a cult favorite in the state.

Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters – Mario Alarcon (Lakewood, Colorado). Specialty, ethical, sustainable coffee with limited release flavors, like Mario Alarcon.

The Cottage – Pickled West Indian Gherkin (Bluffton, South Carolina). Pickling cucumbers from The Cottage, a cafe and tea room founded in 1868.

The Juice Hive & Health Emporium – Shiso, Sweet Potato and Asian Sour Leaf Kimchi (Bluffton, South Carolina). A kimchi from the natural foods store. 

The Juice Hive & Health Emporium – Watermelon Rind Kimchi (Bluffton, South Carolina). Another unique kimchi flavor from the natural foods store.

Top of the Hill Distillery – Organic Carolina Straight Wheat Whiskey (Chapel Hill, North Carolina). Made from North Carolina-grown wheat and U.S.-grown sugar cane. Fermented and distilled on-site in the distillery. 

Treaty Oak Distilling – Ghost Hill Bourbon (Dripping Springs, Texas). Ghost Hill Bourbon is a unique whiskey made with local heirloom grains. A genuine grain to glass bourbon, it is mashed, fermented, distilled, barreled, aged 2 years and bottled on-site.

Underground Meats – Calabrian 3 Ways Salami (Madison, Wisconsin). Wisconsin-grown calabrian chillies, prepared three different ways

Urban Tree Hard Cider – Habanero Haze (Atlanta, Georgia). Spicy ginger infusion with hints of habanero zest. 

Vibrant Coffee Roasters – Ethiopia Ardi Organic – Washed (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). An organic Ethiopian coffee with citrus and sweet floral flavors. 

Virtue Cider – The Mitten (Fennville, Michigan). A Michigan cider blend of last season’s pressed apples, aged in Bourbon barrels for up to one year, then back sweetened with this year’s fresh pressed apple juice. The Mitten has notes of vanilla, caramel, and charred oak.

Virtue Cider – Michigan Cherry (Fennville, Michigan). Michigan Cherry blends last year’s harvest of Michigan apples from local orchards that are aged in French oak barrels. Fresh-pressed juice from Michigan cherries is then added.

Vista Brewing – Stonewall Belgian Lambic-Style Ale with Texas Peaches (Driftwood, Texas). Lambic-style ale with Texas peaches.

Volpi Foods – Heritage Prosciutto (St. Louis, Missouri). Our heritage prosciutto is hand-rubbed, salted & air dried for a perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Waialua Estate Chocolate – Hawaiian Milk Chocolate (Wahiawa, Hawaii). Waialua Estate’s Hawaiian cacao is grown along the banks of the Kaukonahua stream. Flavors include banana and pineapple notes, and flavors of dark cherry, berry and raisins.

White Label Chocolate – 58% Brown Butter Milk (Santa Cruz, California). Single origin chocolate bars fermented in a pair box design. 

WildCraft Cider Works – Pisgah Heritage (Eugene, Oregon). Traditional farmhouse cider made with apples and English Hawthorne berries & blossoms.

Wise Goat Organics – Super Green Kraut (Hollister, California). Probiotic rich and full of raw, live cultures. Super Green Kraut is full of organic greens: cabbage, nettles, cilantro, morenga, spinach, parsley, chickweed and dandelion.

The fermented food and ingredient market is expected to reach $689.34 billion by 2023, driven by rising per capita income and increasing consumer health awareness.

Research & Markets