In its first annual Best in Business awards, Inc. unveiled its picks for the companies that made the most positive impact in 2020. The winners span across 38 categories, including four food and beverage companies.
Vital Farms, producer of pasture-raised eggs and butter, takes the gold in the food and beverage space. Since its founding in 2007, the company has grown from 20 cage-free, free-range hens to partnering with 200 farms to process and pack as many as 2 million eggs a day. Vital Farms is committed to meeting strict animal welfare standards and is currently working on a scalable solution to avoid egg culling. During the pandemic, Vital Farms was able to swiftly adapt to heightened sanitation practices and donate more than 1 million eggs to food pantries.
Salad-serving restaurant chain Sweetgreen, which brings healthy meals to employees through its no-fee delivery service, earned its silver status with its Impact Outpost initiative. This effort brought together helpers from across the nation to fund the delivery of nearly 400,000 meals to the medical staff at over 400 hospital partner locations. In addition to finding ways to give back to those in need, Sweetgreen partners with local vendors, supports sustainability, and promotes the wellbeing of its employees.
As the only company in the country that produces chocolate entirely in Africa, Beyond Good is creating a more streamlined supply chain and boosting wages for farmers. Bean-to-bar production takes just 10 days under the company’s model, and farmers make six times the industry standard. Beyond Good has also partnered with the Bristol Zoo to study the impacts of agroforestry on endangered lemurs.
Uncle Nearest is the newest company among the food and beverage selections and General Excellence winner. This whiskey distillery is named after the man who taught Jack Daniel — former slave Nathanial “Nearest” Green. Founder Fawn Weaver bought Green’s old distillery, hired his great-great-granddaughter, and led the company to win more than 150 awards in just three years. Uncle Nearest is backed by an all-female executive team and an all-minority board, supports Black-owned brands, and has donated 300,000 face masks to first responders this year.