Inside this Willy Wonka-style food startup’s new Boston office

Link to original article in Boston Business Journal.

The future of food is taking root in Boston’s Hyde Park, a neighborhood not necessarily known for the tech and startup culture permeating other parts of the city.

WikiFoods, a venture-backed company launched by Harvard professor David Edwards — well-known for his creation of inhalable chocolate and Cafe ArtScience in Cambridge — has officially moved to Boston from Cambridge.

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The company, which uses a process called micro-encapsulation to create an edible, all-natural “skin” around food, is backed by $25 million in funding from Cambridge’s Flagship Ventures and Polaris Ventures of Waltham. WikiFoods said it has 22 patents and patents pending.

With the move, the 26-employee Willy Wonka-style company has effectively quadrupled its lab and office space to 29,000 square feet. Over the next year, the firm will bring the total headcount to the “mid-30s or low-40s,” according to WikiFoods CEO Kevin Murphy.

WikiFoods makes an allergy-free frozen treat called “perfectly free” encased in an edible skin that “protects the wrapped food or beverage without exposing it to unnatural materials or chemicals while also delivering benefits of health, convenience and a food experience like nothing else,” according to the firm’s website.

Murphy said WikiFoods wants to stick with its strategy to create food that can be eaten by those with food allergies. The product is soy-free, gluten-free, egg and peanut-free. It’s available in 62 stores across the Boston area, including Star Market, Market Basket and Big Y supermarkets. It’ll also be expanding to Stop & Shop and Giant supermarkets.

“Our promise to the consumer is that you can have clean ingredients, everything you need, but nothing you don’t in the product and not sacrifice flavor,” Murphy said.

Although WikiFoods currently just has one product, the company is already at work on a new one, called NuFruit — a children’s fruit snack shaped like a grape that can take on any kind of fruit flavor.

“We can take any fruit puree and we can skin it and effectively produce a grape,” said Murphy. “They are 100 percent natural. The contents will be 100 percent fruit, vegetable ingredients and combination of proprietary ingredients made from seaweed and vegetable extract.”

NuFruit will come in a variety of flavors, including mixed berry, strawberry, banana and tropical orange.

“It’s a fun way to get kids to eat their fruits and vegetables,” said Murphy.

David Harris oversees the Boston Business Journal’s digital content.

 

 

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