Fast Company’s Brands That Matter for 2021

Kate Farms’ innovative approach to nutrition offers a new option for people with health conditions or on a wellness journey

Brooklyn borough President—and presumptive NYC mayor— Eric Adams, right, helps to distribute Kate Farms’ meal-replacement shakes at an event he cohosted with the Campaign Against Hunger on April 14, 2020.

Rethinking the power of nutrition

Kate Farms was founded by parents determined to save their daughter’s life after a diagnosis of “failure to thrive,” a condition when children don’t gain weight at the expected rate. Born with cerebral palsy, Kate Laver used a feeding tube for nourishment but couldn’t tolerate the existing formulas made of synthetic ingredients heavy on corn syrup and common allergens. At the age of five, she weighed only 15 pounds. Wondering why there was nothing on the market that reflected the fresh produce they found at the farmers’ market, Kate’s parents Richard and Michelle set out to create a solution for Kate. When the formula they devised helped their daughter gain weight, they started the company in 2012 to bring their products to a wider audience.

“What we eat matters,” says Brett Matthews, chairman and CEO of Kate Farms since 2016. “Bad food can make you sick, and good food can actually help you on a journey towards health. We want Kate Farms to bring nutrition to the people who need it the most and at the same time build a great company that does really good things for people.” Kate Farms has grown to become a leader in plant-based nutrition formulas. Its innovative approach has helped land the company a spot on this year’s list of Fast Company‘s Brands That Matter.

Safe and effective

The company makes nutrition shakes that are safe and effective for tube feeding as well. They all use USDA organic, non-GMO-certified plant-based ingredients, including pea proteins and phytonutrients, while omitting common allergens often found in conventional formulas. “The published research shows Kate Farms works and is well tolerated,” Matthews says, “That’s one reason people are switching and choosing it over other options.”

The company offers adult- and kid-specific formulas to help people with nutritional needs including food allergies, eating difficulty, malnutrition, gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, aging, and oncology treatments. Kate Farms’ clinical and product-development teams work directly with healthcare professionals and food scientists to expand its product portfolio.

Focused on healthy outcomes

“We are focused on helping people live their best lives through good nutrition,” Matthews says. “And that means constantly innovating, collaborating, and finding ways to get Kate Farms into the hands of people who need or want something better for themselves.”

Kate Farms sells its products online or through prescription and is available in more than 500 hospitals and healthcare settings. Making its plant-based formulas available to everyone required the company to help create new categories within hospital systems so that insurance covers the cost, while securing Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance coverage. Kate Farms’ care team team provides concierge-style service to help customers, caregivers, and healthcare providers navigate reimbursement and find the right product.

While the company is focused on having a positive impact on customer and employees, its advocacy efforts extend far beyond its Santa Barbara, Calif., headquarters. During the pandemic, the company donated 300,000 meal-replacement shakes, partnering with The Campaign Against Hunger, Meals on Wheels, and Support+Feed, among others, to address food insecurity issues exacerbated by COVID-19.

“Our company brings together people with the heart and expertise to help make a positive social impact,” Matthews says. “Good nutrition can help people on a path to improving their lives, and we are set up to do that.”