8 AAPI Brands leading innovation charge

AAPI, Emerging Brands

May 1, 2024

Speaking of innovative and change makers among AAPI brands, you probably think of Fly by Jing and Omsom. Here are 8 AAPI brands making waves in the CPG world, and let's explore these unsung heroes and celebrate their success this AAPI month!

1. Sanzo

  • Founder: Sandro Roco

  • Success Story: Sanzo was born out of Sandro Roco's desire to create a healthier alternative to traditional sugary beverages. Drawing inspiration from his Asian heritage, he introduced sparkling water infused with Asian fruit flavors like lychee and calamansi. Despite facing initial challenges in sourcing ingredients and manufacturing, Sanzo gained traction through grassroots marketing and word-of-mouth promotion. Today, Sanzo's refreshing beverages are loved by consumers across the country, with distribution expanding rapidly.

  • Retailer Reviews: Many customers are a fan of sparkling water and sees it as a daily hydration option and mixer for cocktails and mocktails. They were impressed with its intense flavors, particularly compared to other seltzers which often have faint flavors.

2. Whims

  • Founder: Leanne Viola

  • Success Story: In 2019, Leanne Viola's transition to a vegan diet sparked her quest for healthier sweet snacks, leading to the creation of Whims Delights, a plant-based snack company co-founded with her husband in 2020. Their vegan peanut butter cups, containing just one gram of sugar, quickly gained popularity, with Whims ranking in Amazon's top 50 candy bars within two months of its launch. Alli Webb, co-founder of Drybar and an experienced entrepreneur, recognized the brand's potential and became an advocate, despite the competitive healthy snack market. Webb's endorsement underscores Whims Delights' unique approach to satisfying sweet cravings with wholesome ingredients.

  • Retailer Reviews: The brand shows promising signs of success with high sales velocity, particularly in its peanut butter flavor, and positive customer feedback. However, its pricing is slightly high, which could affect its appeal to a broader audience. The packaging is well-received, indicating a marketable product. While the brand is competitive and well-received, there is room for improvement in sustainability efforts and expansion to stay ahead in the market.

3. Fair and Square

  • Founder: Alex Duong

  • Success Story: Alex Duong, former head of procurement at Thrive Market, envisioned Fair and Square Crackers as an inclusive snack catering to diverse dietary needs. Formulated with gut-friendly green banana flour after extensive kitchen testing, Duong's crackers are gluten-free and plant-based, aiming to improve overall well-being. Despite challenges finding a manufacturer aligned with his vision, Duong's persistence paid off, leading to successful retail launches in venues like Whole Foods and Sprouts, with Amazon as a primary focus for expansion. His dedication lies in creating a scalable and impactful business model while prioritizing consumer and retailer satisfaction.

  • Retailer Reviews: Pricing strategy needs adjustment to compete effectively with lower-priced alternatives. While packaging is visually appealing, it needs improvements for stability and clearer messaging.

4. Rooted Fare

  • Founders: Ashley Xie and Hedy Yu

  • Success Story: Ashley Xie and Hedy Yu, co-founders of Rooted Fare, draw inspiration from their second-generation Chinese American upbringing in creating modern pantry staples that blend nostalgic flavors with innovative twists. Their debut product, Black Sesame Crunchy Butter, is a tribute to the traditional dessert tang yuan, reimagined as a spread with a delightful crunch. Rooted Fare aims to bridge their heritage with their American experiences, empowering second-generation Chinese and Asian Americans to embrace their roots while celebrating their creativity. Through collaborations with AAPI and women/non-binary creators and donations to organizations like NAPAWF and Tuesday Night Project, Rooted Fare is fostering community and making an impact one jar at a time.

  • Retailer Reviews: Pricing, while slightly high, reflects the product's quality and uniqueness. Despite challenges, the brand's uniqueness and positive story provide a competitive edge. Addressing packaging, pricing, and sustainability will enhance its position.

5. Mama Teav’s

  • Founders: Christina and Anthony Teav

  • Success Story: Christina and Anthony Teav, with backgrounds at esteemed culinary institutions, are bringing their family's kitchen traditions to the forefront with Mama Teav's. Their primary product, Hot Garlic, emerged from a desire to merge her culinary expertise with her brother's encouragement. Despite setbacks, including a miscarriage and ICU stay post-delivery, Teav-Liu persevered, eventually leaving her high-profile culinary career to pursue her own venture. With the onset of COVID-19 providing a window for development, Mama Teav's flourished, crafting their signature condiment in-house in small batches. Now, with a growing family and a thriving business, Teav-Liu finds fulfillment in balancing her personal and professional life, embodying the spirit of her mother's kitchen traditions.

  • Retailer Reviews: People praise Mama Teav's Hot Garlic Chili Crisp oil for its flavor and versatility. They appreciate its crispy texture, garlic-forward profile, and balanced oil-to-crisp ratio. Some find the original too spicy but enjoy the intense flavor nonetheless. Despite the intense competition in chili crunch and Mama Teav's is relatively a smaller brand, some retailers think this is the best quality product in the market.

6. Immi

  • Founders: Kevin Lee and Kevin Chanthasiriphan

  • Success Story: Kevin Lee and Kevin Chanthasiriphan's success with Immi Ramen noodles is a testament to their passion for creating nutritious, plant-based alternatives inspired by their Taiwanese and Thai upbringing. Through their dedication to creating delicious and nutritious ramen alternatives, immi quickly gained traction and captured the attention of a wide audience. By leveraging platforms like Shopify Masters, they were able to share their journey and connect with thousands of supporters who shared their vision for healthier, plant-based options in the market.

  • Retailer Reviews: Some customers find it delicious and filling, especially with added Sriracha, soy sauce, and veggies. Despite its higher price, flavors like Black Garlic "Chicken" and Spicy "Beef" are very popular.

7. Brightland

  • Founder: Aishwarya Iyer

  • Success Story: Aishwarya Iyer's journey with Brightland showcases the power of passion and risk-taking in entrepreneurship. Despite her background in beauty and tech, Aishwarya's love for cooking inspired her to venture into the food industry. Recognizing the confusion around olive oil options, she created Brightland, known for its high-quality products and vibrant flavor profile. By educating herself and forging her own path, Aishwarya expanded Brightland's product line to include honeys and vinegars, sourced from small farms. With its photogenic packaging and commitment to quality, Brightland has become a success story celebrated by consumers and industry leaders alike.

  • Retailer Reviews: Has strong sales velocity and customer loyalty, but occasional slow periods occur. While the pricing is generally well-received, there are instances of price resistance. Packaging is acclaimed but has occasional issues affecting sales. Competitively, price sensitivity and quality control issues need addressing.

8. Noodie

  • Founder: Isabel Khoo

  • Success Story: Isabel Khoo founded Noodie during college to create a healthier alternative to traditional instant ramen. After traveling across Asia, she developed Noodie’s Irresistible Ramen, featuring nutritious ingredients and innovative technology. With fewer calories and 75% less sodium, Noodie offers guilt-free indulgence in three flavors. Based in New York, Noodie aims to make healthy eating convenient and delicious.

  • Retail Insight: The brand shows promising initial sales however more marketing and brand power needed to drive return customers and attract a wider audience. Its pricing is acceptable but still on the higher end. Packaging design also needs better differentiation.

As AAPI entrepreneurs continue to make their mark in the CPG industry, their success stories serve as a testament to their resilience, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit. By infusing joy and innovation into their products, these entrepreneurs are not only redefining the CPG landscape but also inspiring future generations of entrepreneurs to follow their dreams.

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cohere logo

Cohere is a B2B platform connecting emerging consumer brands and independent retailers, with AI-powered insights to help brands grow and retailers discover the latest products.

Join us making retail #transparency accessible for all!

backed by

Stay updated with Cohere

The latest articles sent to your inbox every week.

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© 2024 DiNGco Inc. (dba Cohere) All rights reserved