Expo West 2019 was huge! Over 80,000 people and 3,600 brands assembled in possibly the world’s largest gathering of natural food products - ideas collided, new partnerships and products emerged. This is not another blog post highlighting the emerging trends such as oatmilk, CBD, plant-based proteins, you can read them here, here, here, here, and here. However we are here to talk about something bigger!
We’ve heard a lot of anecdotes about millenial and Gen-Z negative traits - lazy, irresponsible, tech and selfie-obsessed. According to research, this generation will account for 40% of global consumers by 2020 (Forbes), 75% of the global workforce by 2025 (Brookings Institute), and those climbing the corporate leadership no more than two or three steps away from the C-Suite (CU Insight). This demographic shift in consumers, leadership in corporate and political culture will have a significant impact on how the world goes around. Looking beyond the digital fixation traits, this generation has a strong desire to connect, collaborate and create, with a long term view of the world we live in. This generation being more entrepreneurial driven potentially translates into a lot more purpose driven initiatives and companies (aligned with their personal principles) tackling challenges we face today such as climate change, economic inequality, and animal welfare. Below we provide couple examples of purpose-driven companies at Expo West, and summarize what success could look like.
Minnesota based Puris Foods were very active speaking and connecting with people at Expo West. We had met Tyler Lorenzen of Puris about a year ago at a charity event in Las Vegas and were instantly blown away by his passion for regenerative agriculture and plant-based food ingredients. Regenerative ingredients come from food systems that rebuild the ecosystem that nourishes them, improving soil, water quality, and social conditions - and they’re in high demand. PURIS non-GMO Peas are nitrogen fixating which means they give more to the land than they take, serving as a natural fertilizer for farmers. By building great tasting plant-based foods from PURIS pea based food ingredients such as proteins, starches and fibers, brands can make a regenerative agriculture choice that goes beyond sustainability and gives consumers the option to vote with their dollars for regenerative foods.
Tyler spoke passionately about the future of plant-based food and beverage formulation using regenerative agriculture at NURIV Expo Music & Tech Festival.
Large companies such as General Mills are taking notice and making their own commitments to regenerative agriculture by bringing the practice to 1 million acres of farmland by 2030, as highlighted at Expo West.
One of the companies at Expo West that amazed a lot of people was Good Catch Foods. Good Catch is co-founded by two vegan chef brothers associated with the very popular Wicked Healthy Cookbook, along with a few other purpose driven entrepreneurs. With a mission to promote plant-based diets to improve health, save lives, and protect the ecology of our oceans, Good Catch is taking the natural foods industry by storm with their nutritious and delicious chef-mastered fishless seafood products. According to chef Chad Sarno, co-founder,“Our goal was to create a product that has the same texture, flavor, and nutritional value as real tuna – without harming our oceans and sea life.” Hence the brand slogan “Seafood Without Sacrifice” resonated with a lot of people recently since they launched at Whole Foods Markets across USA and online on Thrive Market.
Purpose is not just a lofty ideal, but the companies we spoke above are having tremendous success in the market in terms of both product sales and investment. Puris got $12.5M and $25M and a joint venture with Cargill to expand pea protein production. Good Catch Foods is now selling at Whole Foods Markets across USA and online at Thrive Market. Good Catch had received an investment of $8.7M last year.
In an age of self glorification and whitewashing (or greenwashing), a third party certification of a company’s work commitment towards environmental and/social good is extremely valuable. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. According to Business Development Bank of Canada, The B Corp assessment is comprehensive and bracing. A poorly-managed company won’t pass. Going through the certification requires taking a close look at how a business is run. It engages the entire workforce, gets them focused on what they do well and shows where you can improve. As an added bonus, B Corps are highly successful. These companies are just as profitable and resilient as traditional businesses. But they also have advantages when it comes to brand differentiation and employee recruitment.
Over 2,200 companies are now certified as B Corps in more than 50 countries. Patagonia, the California-based outdoor apparel company, is probably one of the best-known B Corps. The company is committed to reducing the negative impact of their activities on the environment. They also donate time, services and at least 1% of their sales to grassroots environmental groups all over the world.
Algarithm’s mission is simple yet lofty - to make it easy and enjoyable for everyone to consume plant based Omega-3s. Traditionally, Omega-3 supplements have been derived from fish or krill oils, but this is increasingly seen as unsustainable, and problematic due to toxicity from heavy metals, pesticides and microplastics.
As a father to two girls, what drives Ben Kelly is the desire for all children having access to tasty and exciting Omega-3 options for cognitive and eyesight development, free of heavy metals and contaminants coming from marine fish. That is the reason Ben co-founded Algarithm to deliver on this opportunity, along with Udaya Wanasundara, CSO, a father of two boys, and an expert in lipids and algal omega-3 science.
Algarithm has Omega-3s figured out! Algarithm’s algal DHA oil is derived from a strain of wild-crafted microalgae initially discovered and isolated from pristine coastal waters at the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. Providing a minimum of 400mg/g of Omega-3 DHA, the algal oil undergoes an environmentally-friendly, chemical-free extraction process to eliminate virtually all traces of taste and odor – making the “beautifully tasteless” oil an ideal ingredient in foods and beverages where manufacturers want the nutritional benefits of plant-derived omega-3 DHA without an underlying marine smell or taste.
Aligned with its purpose of “making it easy and enjoyable for everyone to consume plant based Omega-3s,” Algarithm has participated in GOED's Executive Council on Education and Outreach, pledging $100,000 annually to fund GOED's Omega-3 research and educational programs including child brain development and plant-based micro-nutrition. We’re developing programs in the future to deliver on our mission, and form this a core of our DNA including within employees and strategic partnerships.
And while we are still new and learning, working towards a BCorp certification is definately on our radar and something we will be working towards.
With rising concern for climate change, animal welfare, and lack of proper micro-nutrition in humans, we’re witnessing an unprecedented level of innovation in food and beverages, including emergence of plant-based, cellular agriculture and functional foods. Purpose is ranked a priority for millenials and Gen-Z seeking when seeking work. With more millenials and Gen-Z entering the workforce and leadership positions, purpose is emerging as a strong factor in formation of new initiatives and companies. In this blog post we’ve highlighted couple examples of purpose driven food innovation we witnessed at Expo West, termed the largest gathering of natural food products in the world.
Ultimately the long term success of these purpose driven food companies will depend on how well they’re able to deliver their promised goods and/or services, while adhering to their principles (purpose). This would include a lot of groundwork including having the employees and partners on board with the (relatable and resonant) vision of making the world a better place (the purpose). Key takeaway steps for implementation would be developing - messaging that inspires employees and partners, internal processes that are simple and repeatable, and performance that is measurable.
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