Foodservices companies Compass Group, which runs cafeterias around the world, and Cava, a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant chain, were the only food companies to make Forbes’ list of Top 50 World’s Most Innovative Companies this year.

Coming in at #34, Compass Group was recognized “for putting a fresh spin on cafeteria grub.” The company works with the Global Animal Partnership to serve humanely raised meat and has deals with Impossible Foods, Hampton Creek, and others to increase its plant-based offerings.

Cava is #37 “for feeding the data.” The company installed a network of sensors to collect data at its restaurant locations, which it uses to improve its operations from anticipating how much food to prepare to boosting food quality.

In addition to its Top 50 list, Forbes selected the most innovative companies across 36 sectors. Here’s who they recognized in the food sector:

  1. Compass Group: “For mainstreaming plant-based foods and sustainable programs”
  2. World Central Kitchen: “For feeding Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria and inspiring an alternative model for disaster relief”
  3. Chobani: “For supporting young food entrepreneurs”
  4. AeroFarms: “For elevating vertical farming to the industrial level”
  5. Eden Creamery: “For topping the sales charts with its protein-packed Halo Top ice cream pints”
  6. Safe Catch Foods: “For detecting mercury in fish using seafood-impurity testing technology”
  7. Union Wine Co.: “For making wine fun and approachable by giving it a beerlike aesthetic”
  8. Daily Harvest: “For reframing the freezer aisle’s reputation for nutritionless convenience with its ‘farm-frozen’ soups, smoothies, and more”
  9. a2 Milk: “For delivering 100% cows’ milk that’s easy to digest”
  10. Amy’s Kitchen: “For conceiving the country’s first vegetarian, organic, gluten-free-optional fast-food restaurant that’s actually popular”

Food and food-related companies also appeared on some of the other sector lists.

  • Africa
    • #7: Mobile-based B2B food supply platform Twiga Foods, for helping farmers in Kenya get their products to market
  • Latin America
    • #10: Wild Gum, for producing the world’s only organic, biodegradable, and sugar-free chewing gum
  • Retail
    • #2: Walmart, for investing in digital retail (including grocery e-commerce) to take on Amazon
  • Robotics
    • #6: Zume Pizza, for using robots to assemble pizzas, which are then cooked en route in delivery vans equipped with ovens
    • #7: Blue River Technology, for using computer vision technology and robotics to target weeds with pesticides and fertilizer
    • #10: Standard Cognition, for making the AI-powered check-out systems behind cashier-free retail stores like Amazon Go   
  • Social good
    • #3: Starbucks, for its initiatives to end hunger
    • #6: Ripple Foods, for making milk and other dairy products from peas
    • #10: &pizza, for paying all employees across its 26 locations a living wage
  • Space
    • #9: Planet Labs, for creating a planet-wide satellite monitoring solution that can be used, among other things, to monitor the health of crops

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