Specialty Food Magazine

Spring 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://specialtyfoodmagazine.epubxp.com/i/950112

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Page 41 of 91

Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, started his company in 2009 with the premise that "you don't need an animal to produce a piece of meat," he said. "Everything is available to us outside the animal and we can use technology to build it." Beyond Meat makes its products, which are non-GMO and contain no artificial ingredients, by replicating the fundamentals of meat (amino acids, lipids, trace minerals), with plants. "There is a lot of noise out there that consumers are reacting to and there are movies like "What the Health" that are pushing them toward a plant-based diet, so we really need to get this right," said Brown. "I look and think about what we've done with the landline versus the mobile phone. No one sat there and tried to denigrate the landline, they just came up with something better. That's my approach. We want to create products that are so alluring and so exciting that people just say 'this is the new meat.'" In that vein, Beyond Meat won't sell its product to any food retailer who won't merchandise it from its traditional meat case, Brown explained. Up next for the company is a new, 26,000-square-foot innova- tion center at its El Segundo, Calif. headquarters that will house its Manhattan Beach Project, an initiative to bring top scientists, engineers, food technologists, chefs, and researchers together to create plant-based meat that is indistinguishable from its animal- based equivalent. "We're saying 'replicate perfectly 80/20 beef and don't stop until you get there,'" Brown said. "The really good news is there is no fundamental obstacle, it just takes time and money to get there." Real Food, Fast Shannon Allen, owner and operator of Grown, a six-unit USDA Organic Certified fast-food concept with a drive-through, empha- sized the need for the foodservice industry to make real food options convenient. The concept for her business was born out of necessity after her 17-month-old son, Walker, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. She recounted a time when they were on the road, Walker had low blood sugar, and she needed a convenient, healthy meal to feed him right away. "I started driving frantically through drive-throughs looking for real food for my baby," she said. "I didn't want to give him a snack and I didn't want to give him anything processed. I wanted to give him dinner. But what I realized at that moment was that you couldn't get a whole organic rotisserie chicken with two sides or a freshly-made spun salad with all organic ingredients, or an acai bowl or a fresh-made smoothie without syrup, but now you can." Nine years after the moment that inspired her to launch Grown, Allen endeavors to grow the concept with locations in airports, hospital lobbies, busy stretches of highway, college cam- puses, and sports arenas. Grown has six locations, including one at a Walmart store, a unit at Wesleyan University, and another at Hard Rock stadium in Miami Garden, Florida. "Grown belongs in places that have captive audiences," said Allen. "Places where busy people are frustrated. Where people usu- ally have to sacrifice and cheat on their diet or have to do something they ordinarily wouldn't do. There aren't a lot of vegan options or pescatarian options in these places, so we look to fill that void." Changing Produce Perceptions On the grocery side, Pradeep Elankumaran, co-founder and CEO of Farmstead, is looking to change consumer perceptions about what online grocery can be. His artificial-intelligence–powered company uses AI and highly advanced code to accurately predict the quanti- ties of food that shoppers will order, in an effort to reduce waste. It curates a selection of about 1,000 SKUs of the best products in every category and its drivers deliver fresh, local food on very dense delivery routes, in under an hour. With Farmstead, Elankumaran endeavors to change the nega- tive perceptions about the risks associated with online grocery and fresh foods. "The perception is you have to go to the store [to select acceptable produce] but that's because the avocados and bananas at the store may be subpar, so you have to choose them yourself. That's kind of weird if you think about it. Why are we doing that? Instead we should say 'of course the bananas I get at my doorstep will be f lawless and the exact bananas that I want.'" A different sort of change in perception, for the advancement of the food industry, was promoted by panelist Rusty Schwartz, founder of KitchenTown, a food startup incubator that supports innovators and early-stage food companies. "Big companies are experiencing negative growth, and can't innovate very well since they're not built that way. Then you have these small companies that are nimble and quick, but they need the technical expertise that the large companies have," he said. Schwartz is spearheading an effort to redefine how small food entrepreneurs and large companies can benefit from one another by collaborating. "It's a great time in food innovation and we have a lot of reasons to be optimistic," he said. Julie Gallagher is managing editor of Specialty Food Magazine. "We want to create products that are so alluring and so exciting that people just say 'this is the new meat.'" — Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat SPRING 2018 39

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