I know I talked to Stacy of Stacy’s Pita Chips about this, and she had so many answers to this question, and I’d love to keep this question definitely for my CPG founders that I interview. Well and anyone had vegan food even as a meat eater, and that’s why it took you a blizzard for you to try it again because it has changed a lot in the last five, 10 years. Born in 2015, the company has recently partnered up with Green Monday in Hong Kong to launch Happy Nuggets across Green Common stores, with plans to launch the rest of their product line in Asia in the near future. And really grew up eating animal products every day of my life without question. In my opinion, the world population isn’t yet ready to give up those social traditions and eating experiences to go fully plant-based. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Cole Orobetz, the co-founder and COO of Los Angeles-based startup Alpha Foods that has developed plant-based meat alternatives from “beefy” burrito ready-meals to “chicken” nuggets all made from non-GMO soy and now proudly palm-oil free. They just don’t believe that the industry is here to stay. Anything that you learned over the years where you would say, “Look this is something that I know about branding.” Maybe specifically for CPG product, or else wise? And before we got to our first logo, and look and feel of the first package we went through four agencies, and must have seen over 100 different versions of our logo-. So I wanted to put this in there. And there’s one thing that I would like to add to what you have said before about going rounds, and rounds, and hundreds of designs with agencies until you actually found finally that right design. 100% agree because it really narrows the scope, and the array of options that you will be presented with when coming to that first wave of designs which is exciting, but I think what you just touched on is something that I wish we’d probably would have spent more time on in the beginning to get to our brand that became the face of the company, and the face of the products, and so on. It was so good. I talked with Chris Kerr the day of the Beyond Meat went public, and he was a key investor from day one with the company, and that brand went into the same direction by being able to actually place their patties in the meat isle of markets, of the frozen food aisle. But we have partners on the ground there that were able to take our base brand product, and package, and include it in a standard retail array of all I guess USA spec packaging. For myself, I eat plant-based as much as I possibly can. Paid posts are clearly marked as such: look for 'This is a Green Queen Partner Post' at the bottom of the page. Start listening. Looking back at Alpha Food, I know you mentioned that you got into Walmart pretty early on, but what was that one big breakthrough moment where you felt like now you’re changing from being a start up, and you’re actually turning into a brand? Publisher - Asia's Impact Media - Breaking Sustainability News. Yeah, yeah you’re right. You can go onto our website. Even if you’re a 100% meat eater, at some point being at home you’re just, and you don’t want to cook anymore either. We’ve got 28 retail product but that one by far is receiving the most fanfare, and we think that it’s got the biggest potential out of all the products in our product lineup right now. So I think those three factors would get me through I guess an angel, or early stage investment decision more so than data because in the early stages there’s a time factor, and an execution factor, and that really is mostly driven by the team. How has this treated Alpha Foods? Alpha Foods is co-founded by Loren Wallis, former founder of Good Karma Foods acquired by Dean Foods in 2018, and Cole Orobetz, a former venture capital investor in the food and ag-tech sector. Consumer Staples. All rights reserved. ... Wallis met Cole … Which was a huge win for them, but I’m sure also for the meatless community as a whole because I feel that catering to basically meat eaters is really, really difficult because everyone comes in with your attitude. And really our vision was to build a globally relevant plant protein company that could bring delicious products to the plates of meat eaters who are looking for a delicious plant based option but perhaps weren’t excited, or perhaps they didn’t know what they didn’t know about plant based eating. Because there is no direct translation of when you put our brand name with the product name, they don’t always fit, and go together, or make sense. So that was more of a funny little road bump, speed bump along the way, and we evolved in that pretty quickly. Quite frankly if you have to eat three meals a day, which those of us who are lucky in the western world, at some point you just run out of options, and you don’t want to see meat anymore. There was a just a better deal on the table, but we stayed in touch professionally, and as friends. There is an educative marketing component that is unique to this plant-based food industry that we have to overcome. And so that takes the scariness factor out of trying plant based if they’ve never tried it before. And we saw a really great response from our consumers who were engaging with us digitally, and so far to this point I guess we’re coming into September things are still going really well for us. And we are certified vegan now, but it’s just not something that apparently according to studies, and surveys, and things that’s just not something you want on the front panels. Well and I’m almost certain that one of the best marketing tricks to happen to the plant based industry was the virus, and the quarantine. Food. Cole Orobetz, co-founder of plant-based meat company Alpha Foods, said when it comes to seafood, people can be hypersensitive to even the slightest off … Yeah, well I guess looking back I don’t think there was any single moment in time because there have been so many. So when I began Alpha Foods, the idea was to make the plant-based transition easier. And so we had raised the money to execute on a 2020 business plan, and when things started to shut down in March we took a bit of a step back to just survey the landscape. So we’re hoping that, that’s just the beginning with KFC, and are looking at other products, and other regions right now specifically around the chicken platform [inaudible 00:05:42]. Listeners who’d like to get a taste for your plant based meals where can we find Alpha Foods? But it is really fascinating to think about how people are actually interacting with your brand more now. We don’t want to make them feel like they are changing their lives entirely, we just want them to feel like they are eating something made from plants! And I think that too is because of branding. Below is our exclusive interview with Cole, who discussed his thoughts on a plant-based world, what it’s like to found a startup, his commitment to sustainable sourcing and food tech innovations of the future. But it makes a lot of sense because people are at home, they actually spend more time with products just because they are stuck, and they start falling in love with some products, and they start to actually get to know new product, and then engage with them. You have staples that people understand. CO: In 2013, I met with a nutritionist just for a general check in with my diet, exercise and lifestyle. It drives a lot of the decision making resource allocation where companies will, and will not invest, and also to refine product mix, or products on the shelf that may be doing better, or worse than a benchmark. Right? When did you feel that? And we were in discussions for a funding round from our fund to Good Karma, and didn’t end up completely the transaction together. And we’ve really been building this brad brick by brick, and consumer by consumer. That’s just what we ate. ). Beano turns these sugars into simple sugars that are easy to digest prior to the food reaching the colon. Yeah, that’s a great point. Out of all the recommendations I was given to consider in terms of everyday lifestyle changes to make, reducing red meat consumption was the number one most impactful thing. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. The Alpha burrito, the Alpha chicken wing, but also the packaging. There have been lots of retailers and service providers that have slammed the door in our face at times. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Yeah, you’re the one who’s just rising to the top. Post: Alpha Foods Co.,Ltd. Enter your email address to receive future FINIEN insights and updates. The work that the Green Monday team has done is just incredible – they truly have a small army! To-date, the plant-based meat world has been largely dominated by sausage, burger and ground beef alternatives -- Alpha Foods, however, sees a future in faux fowl. And I think it was not even a week after we got those out the door did we see a study come out, I think it was John Hopkins University that said, “Don’t use the word vegan it means poor taste, and it means that it’s less healthy to consumers.” According to this survey. And it’s true we are a vegan food company. The word vegan has been branded, and mislabeled for such a long time that it now stands for something right? And I think that the word vegan can unfortunately bring up I guess extreme lifestyle change, or choice for certain consumers who may think it’s just a bad word, and may not really understand what it means. So I’m a little ahead of time right now when we record this in August. There’s so many wins and great moments on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. It aims to bring clean, sustainable sizzle to the plant-based protein market with a variety of delicious convenience And so the first wave of products that we had created and launched were to be convenient, and it had to be delicious, and they had to be made out of plants, and that was the three North Stars of our first line up of burritos that launched at Walmart in 2017. Now, Alpha Foods offers 25 vegan products including frozen prepared foods such as pot pies, tamales, burritos, nuggets and pizza as well crumbles, strips, a sausage patty and a 'beefy' burger made from non-GMO soy and vital wheat gluten. So it’s not like they go into a garden patty that’s called Garden Patty. Sally Ho is Green Queen's resident writer and lead reporter. Because plant based that’s Beyond Meat, that’s Impossible, that’s a lot of other brands that started celebrating that word. So I think there’s been a number of companies that have learned that the hard way over time that you probably just can’t do a direct translation to every language you want to put on your package. With our vision of trying to reach as many consumers around the globe, using a niche protein that could be unaffordable or unavailable just doesn’t fit with our mission. That is quite a compliment for your plant based chicken right? It’s like, “No, here’s your crispy chicken patty.” It just isn’t chicken. But let’s talk about Asia for one more second because I think it’s fascinating from a design, and branding, packaging perspective. But generally speaking we’ve been very strong in Asia starting with Hong Kong down to Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and mainland China. I assumed that things would be going pretty well for you during this strange situation that we’re all in jointly. We INFORM. CO: I think that this is the big idea. And we were so proud of the burritos that came off the line, and they were going into Walmart our first customer, and consumers were going to buy it, and love it. launch Happy Nuggets across Green Common stores. I wish we could, and still don’t. Let’s talk about the importance of branding for a little while here. And we were very fortunate as well to have a rock solid supply chain, and great manufacturing partners so didn’t have a supply disruption to speak of. This may, or may not be directly to sales figures right, but when was that moment where you just looked at your business partner, and you’re high fiving, and you’re like, “I think we just made it to that step.”. Having those front and center before getting to a pretty design. There’s a store locator on eatalphafoods.com so type ina zip code, and there’s definitely stores that will pop up, and we’re also actually going to be selling online through our website as well. Alpha Foods, a maker of grab-and-go vegetarian meals sold in grocery stores, said it received $7 million in seed funding that will help it expand its brand's reach. That will be a great way to get products directly to the door that may not be all available at the same location. Founded by Cole Orobetz and Loren Wallis in 2015, Alpha Foods is backed … INDUSTRY. And that was really cool to see the press, and the images, and the excitement factor of a product that had been developed here quite some time ago. Our first products – burritos and pot pies – weren’t exactly the right fit for Hong Kong. With that, prices can be brought down, and it can hopefully enter the end-consumer product in the future. Right? Alpha Foods serves customers in the State of Texas. We had a lot of interest in our brand globally, but they weren’t the right people. But one of the interesting things that we saw occurring was the consumer being home bound for more meal occasions, and we had just more opportunity to reach out to them, connect with them just in a different way that we have before. That’s the founder spirit. Call Us: +254 723 786202, +254 733 786202 | Email : affl@alphafinefoods.com CO: Over the years, we have really done a lot to zoom in on the sustainability of our products. Over the years, I have seen some smaller brands and companies struggle to be big enough to be relevant. CO: Whether it is a plant-based company or not, just the sheer amount of work to create a company of this scale was a huge challenge for us. And everyone’s eaten a, well not everybody, but many people have eaten burritos. Yeah, the nuggets launched about a year and a half ago at retail in the US. Is there any piece of brand advice from your end for founders as a take away as we’re slowly coming to an end here. 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