Your Favorite Indie Food Brand Is Probably Struggling Right Now. You Can Help By Shopping Small.

A lockdown-era surge in demand saw many small start-ups stretching to rapidly scale. Now costs are rising and sales are slowing, creating a tough squeeze. If you're in a shopping mood, it could be a great time to shop small and show an indie biz some love.

Photo: Diaspora Co.

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Think back to the early days of the pandemic. Back then, we were all looking for easy and safe ways to upgrade our lockdown lifestyles while sitting inside the house. Cooking and online shopping simultaneously boomed and a whole generation of direct-to-consumer brands flourished. These start-ups brought exciting flavors and ideas to our kitchens, encouraging and inspiring us through that peak era of sourdough bread-baking and home pasta-making.

But now, many of these same brands are experiencing a severe slowdown as people return to dining out and traveling just as the economy is shrinking and inflation is rising. Small businesses can always use our love and support, but it’s an especially good time to think of the little guys instead of buying everything from big box stores.

Whether you’re thinking of reeling in your outings for the winter, you’re on the prowl for practical holiday gifts, or you just want to shop small and support up-and-coming brands that are dishing out high-quality products, we’ve rounded up some of the our fave food and drink brands on the market right now so you can find something new to try.

Shop Small with These Independent Food and Drink Brands

Diaspora Co. 
Diaspora Co. was founded in 2017 by third-generation Mumbai native Sana Javeri Kadri. Kadri formed the company to address historical injustices in the spice trade, including paying farmers fair trade prices. But the business model of the company that aims to be “the Patagonia of your pantry” wasn’t really designed for discounts or sales. The brand recently posted on Instagram about the challenges facing their direct-to-consumer biz right now and asking customers for support in a tough time. It’s nice when supporting  a cool, ethical business also puts tasty spices in your cupboard.

Magic Spoon
Magic Spoon is another one of those D2C brands that we obsessed over during the pandemic — what good nineties kid doesn’t flip for healthy breakfast cereal, you know? The high-protein, low-carb cereal brand offers the same fun and playful flavors you’d find in the grocery store cereal aisle, like cocoa and cinnamon, but the ingredients are actually made to start your day off strong and well-fueled.

Actual Veggies
We love an oversized and over-dressed veggie burger — but sometimes it’s nice to actually see the vegetables and whole food ingredients that make up the patty. That’s exactly what you get with Actual Veggies. Unlike some Silicon Valley vegan burger brands, Actual Veggies patties are made entirely from vegetables for a tasty and healthy veggie burger alternative.

88 Acres
Whether you’re obsessed with baking cookies or you just like the distraction of dipping a spoon straight into a jar of peanut butter between Zoom meetings (we’ve been there), 88 Acres has us covered for nut and seed butters and granola. We particularly love the 88 Acres dark chocolate sunflower butter, but good luck not eating it all spoonful after spoonful.

Karma Nuts
Looking for a high-protein snack that won’t leave you feeling lethargic or full of processed junk? Karma Nuts feature all-natural nuts and seeds that are just slightly dusted with savory flavors and salt. We also love that the nuts are air-roasted to keep them minimally processed without sacrificing taste and satisfaction.

Jojo’s Chocolates
Jojo’s Chocolates are the perfect little treat to reward ourselves for getting through another Zoom meeting — and we still love them for gifting and the occasional indulgence. The seasonal peppermint pretzel bites are one of our favorite sweet-and-savory snack options. Plus, the holiday-centric flavors makes them a great stocking stuffer or Secret Santa gift.

Pan’s Mushroom Jerky
Pan’s Mushroom Jerky is one of our favorite protein-packed treats — and one of the best tricks for satisfying picky omnivores. The shiitake-based jerky is totally vegan but the dense and fibrous texture of the mushroom gives a similar mouthfeel to regular meat-based jerky. Flavors range from salt-and-pepper to applewood barbecue but our personal favorite is the umami-packed teriyaki.


RELATED: These Grocery Store Sauces Are My Secret Shortcut to Weeknight Dinner Joy

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