Consumer Staples. So I’m a little ahead of time right now when we record this in August. That’s the founder spirit. Cole Orobetz founded Alpha Foods five years ago and is currently the CEO and CFO of the healthy frozen meal brand that can be found in over 9,000 stores across North America and Asia, where their plant-based Alpha Chicken Nuggets are available at KFC (which is quite an endorsement! And I think in our, especially Alpha’s broad lineup of both prepared meals, solutions, and ingredients it became a great brand to connect with for some of those consumers that were just looking for something different. By closing this banner you agree to the use of cookies. Is the team capable? So that was more of a funny little road bump, speed bump along the way, and we evolved in that pretty quickly. It is dedicated to returning to the roots of a healthy diet and sustainable industry by bringing delicious meat alternatives derived from plants. So I get it, you want more. 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. Alpha Foods has raised $7 million in new funding to raise brand awareness and continue developing new plant-based convenience foods for the mass market. And we were in discussions for a funding round from our fund to Good Karma, and didn’t end up completely the transaction together. Ashlee M. Treating myself again. The Alpha nugget, the Alpha burger, and not only are you the co-founder, president, and CFO, and maybe a lot of other things too of a fast growing CPG company but you’re also a founding member of the Angel Group which is an angel investing group that you and I talked offline a little bit about before the podcast for early stage CPG brands that invest in brands that are already on the shelves. We’ve since learned that vegan isn’t a great word to use when talking to consumers about our brand, because it can invoke a sense of lifestyle change that people don’t yet want to live. But I did hear that the actually founding story is quite interesting as well, I think it involves a blizzard, and a plant based bagel dog? We wanted to go out and sell it, but we just couldn’t find an agency, or the creative spark to get us to that place where we were really happy with a design that could be on a website, or a consumer placing package. 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. These people are getting-. It was actually quite delightful. Shop Online Save yourself the frequent trips to the supermarket, just to pick up milk. ). Today Alpha Foods, a company making meatless proteins and frozen plant-based heat-and-eat meals, announced that it has raised $28 million. We INSPIRE. But I think also for founders, and those developing a food brand there’s a bit of a fake it until you make it mindset that you need to put something innovative and cool, and fresh in front of a retailer, and really act like a grown up company to get that shelf placement because they do need to offer new products, and innovation for their consumers. Perfect snack or add some rice and veggies to make it a meal! It basically fits into the typical freezer product. I wish we could, and still don’t. And so that was really the genesis of how Alpha came to be. And I know that every plant based company out there is asking the same question, and they have their own take on it. We typically use the term plant based instead of vegan, but it is a vegan product. Our first customer was Walmart, so being able to scale up and service a client like Walmart was a lot of work. And it’s time consuming to capture. 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. I think a little bit, and I would say for early stage investing, angel stage before you get to the growth stage of a company, and looking at investing and past proof of concept, I guess for me it was boiled down to a few things which is the management team, the product itself, and the sector. But I would say the overseas expansion, and the KFC partnership was really monumental, and validating for us. Our goal is to encourage everyone to move towards more plant-based options. How important was data to you in the beginning? There was some scarcity mentality, obviously people didn’t want to be left with no food products to feed their families. Yeah, so a bit of a background on myself. And so I think that, that’s something that brands and founders shouldn’t be scared of is really swing for the fences, and bring the best foot forward even though the company might be small, and still getting on its feet. ... Wallis met Cole … 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. Vegan is a polarising word for some people, it connotes certain behaviours that they can’t relate to. 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! Even my grandmother who is 83 is sending me articles about plant-based eating! But when more news and reports came out about the ethical conflicts involved in palm oil production, we removed it from our ingredient list. And you’re right, eating three meals a day with all the same animal proteins cooked in the same kitchen can probably get a little monotonous. And the light bulb went off me which was if me as a meat eater, and at that point I had been starting to reduce my meat consumption considerably just for some personal health reasons. Listeners who’d like to get a taste for your plant based meals where can we find Alpha Foods? So to have the right people on the ground who are well connected and passionate about the plant-based space, who are on the pulse with the future of food, that was the most important thing for us. Right, right, I can see that absolutely. And we happened to have a hotdog at that time, and so the Alpha dog gave rise to Alpha Foods, and that’s really how we view the products and the brand is best in class, and a leader for taste, texture, eating experience, and just enjoyment factor of the food product. Alpha Foods produces plant-based foods focused on taste, texture, and sustainability. 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. That’s right. We have continued to use soy because it is economic and accessible. We INFORM. GABRIEL BOCTI. Yeah, I’d say that’s a pretty big number of places to buy physically. Cole Orobetz, Co-Founder, CEO, And CFO, Alpha Foods Cole Orobetz founded Alpha Foods five years ago and is currently the CEO and CFO of the healthy frozen meal brand that can be found in over 9,000 stores across North America and Asia, where their plant-based Alpha Chicken Nuggets are available at KFC (which is quite an endorsement! We wanted to make sure that there was something easy for those who were curious about plant-based, so they wouldn’t have to spend too much time or energy to think about how to prepare or enjoy plant-based foods. Really the only thing that slowed down was the food service side just because people were not really going out to restaurants, and other places quick serve. INTERVIEW: Alpha Foods Founder Cole Orobetz “Think Your Biggest Thoughts To Have The Biggest Impact”, Climate change effects don’t have the same impac, Just a few short years ago, finding a great vegan. 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-. But when the Green Monday team came by our booth last year at an exhibition where we launched our “chicken” nugget product, everyone loved it. And they were on their own journey of, the doctors told them that they had to reduce their meat consumption for various reasons. 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. Yeah, the nuggets launched about a year and a half ago at retail in the US. Yeah, likewise thanks, Fabian. That will be a great way to get products directly to the door that may not be all available at the same location. A plant-based world would be the optimal gold standard for everyone in this industry, but I don’t think it is practical. And really grew up eating animal products every day of my life without question. Right? Yeah, yeah. She has been eating steak and potatoes her whole life, so for her to know what plant-based really shows that the world’s consciousness is shifting now. Yeah, so we launched there last year in food service and retail, and it’s been slowly building in Hong Kong as well as five other countries in Asia. So we didn’t actually change the look and face of the package for the initial launch of any of the products, but what we can see is when we get updates on the marketing side on what our partners are doing there at retail and food services it clearly has evolved to be a message that resonates with those that speak Mandarin, and live in the regions. Well I think to me it’s how I relate to the products and [inaudible 00:23:29] with the company, the products, and I guess values at a deeper level, or I guess how I might think about a company, or a product when I’m not potentially using it. brand strategist and author Fabian Geyrhalter. There’s something about the familiarity which I always wondered how much does it pop out, how much does it stand out, but that is all strategic to actually make it feel more familiar. So I can’t recall what we swapped it for, but it got yanked, and got put on the back. And that’s what we need to focus on. INDUSTRY. Born and raised in Canada, and mostly grew up in Calgary Alberta which is like the Texas of Canada. As a result, Alpha Foods' new e-commerce platform will meet these customer needs in an easy and convenient way. As of today Alpha Foods has raised a total of $41 million. Cole Orobetz: Hi … 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.”. And everyone’s eaten a, well not everybody, but many people have eaten burritos. But to address your question, absolutely tasting is believing, and getting product samples in front of people, ensuring they’re prepared properly is really the first stop. And maybe I should be aware of something different. 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. There’s plenty of connotations, but how did it come about? Support the show-----> Fabian Geyrhalter: Welcome to the show Cole. Let’s talk about the importance of branding for a little while here. 320 Pine Ave, Suite 1010Long Beach, CA 90802562.432.7627, Strategic Clarity + Verbal Clarity + Visual Clarity, Now we will have time to ponder, to read, to listen, to absorb, to grow. Add to cart Details Over 98% of our content is editorial and independent. Concepts, and there was at one point it looked like we were going to be a space company sending things into space. Yeah, another story I guess with some roots that were prior to us actually starting the company. You have staples that people understand. So it’s not like they go into a garden patty that’s called Garden Patty. I think one important step is to really in the beginning look at the brand strategy, to really refine what is the brand, what does it stand for, what is the mission, what is the vision, what is the positioning in the marketplace, what is all of that together with the agency so they can actually then derive something. And another factor too is that there were empty refrigerated coolers that used to have chicken, and beef, and pork-, And turkey, and all the meat that people would be used to seeing. It had to be delicious and accessible to the masses – so price and format had to be convenient. When did you feel that? Cole and I talk about how a blizzard and a vegan bagel dog got him into the business, why he had to re-name his brand for the Chinese market, how ‘familiarity’ is key to convincing meat-eaters to try plant-based varieties of their favorite foods, and how it took them hundreds of logos and four agencies to arrive at their very first logo – all because the brand strategy phase was missing upfront. 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. ... said Cole Orobetz, CEO of Alpha Foods. And the more we realised how educated the consumer base is – people were learning a lot about soy production – we have been proud to say that all our soybeans are ethically sourced from the United States where there is no deforestation to be concerned of. But let’s talk about Asia for one more second because I think it’s fascinating from a design, and branding, packaging perspective. 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]. Beano also works on sugars categorized as oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. 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. Nothing was alarming, but they started to educate me on the heaviness of meat in my body, and what it does to my ability to be in a rested state. 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. So think your biggest thoughts and try and build something that can reach the biggest number of people. Over the years, I have seen some smaller brands and companies struggle to be big enough to be relevant. With such broad appeal, Cole’s products are the newest, most versatile and exciting addition to your menu. And it’s true we are a vegan food company. How do you get their attention, and how do you convince them that it’s safe to try, and that they won’t be disappointed. EP052 – Cole Orobetz, Co-Founder, CEO, And CFO, Alpha Foods. But one of the entrepreneurs that I had met during that time Loren Wallace was the founder, and CEO of Good Karma Foods. Yeah, I wish we wouldn’t have had more time, and resources in our early days to focus on data, and that’s the honest answer is consumer data is very expensive. Green Queen is an editorially-driven media publication. Join Fabian’s monthly mentorship circles while supporting the show. Founded by Cole Orobetz and Loren Wallis in 2015, Alpha Foods is backed … But generally speaking we’ve been very strong in Asia starting with Hong Kong down to Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and mainland China. Cole Orobetz, the COO and CFO of Alpha Foods, joins NOSH's Editorial Assistant, Erin Cabrey for a Livestream Studio interview at NOSH Live Summer 2019. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. 10/10! They just don’t believe that the industry is here to stay. First and foremost, when we were sourcing soy, we made sure to use non-GMO soy, having in our minds the practices that come with GMO soybeans. Start listening. Another problem we faced is convincing consumers that plant-based is a buyable food option. I travel a lot, so my lifestyle requires plant-based to be as convenient as possible. And I always love to at least talk about this a little bit because I think it’s inspirational for other founders to hear about the road not always being perfectly smooth. And one of the exciting things for us was the partnership with KFC in Hong Kong with our Alpha Chicken Nugget. For Alpha we wanted to create a really inviting brand, and message to our consumers that plant based was approachable, and not scary, and that they didn’t have to make extreme lifestyle shifts to enjoy the product. Alfalite Plain Sample – Makes 1L (1/Customer) $ 1.00 1.00. 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. launch Happy Nuggets across Green Common stores. And if you have directional intelligence that the sector itself is doing well, well there’s an opportunity there. That being said, it is now becoming more a part of people’s vocabulary. So we definitely saw a huge spike in sales for the first few weeks. Going all the way back, on your website there is an our story section but it is really not as much of the heartfelt founding story than a mission, or a purpose statement which in itself is very important. Copyright © 2020 FINIEN. So I wanted to put this in there. Where you would only eat it if you’re stuck in a blizzard. I threw these things in the freezer, and yes they were a vegan bagel dogs which is a vegan hotdog wrapped in a bagel. 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. It then evolved into a consensus that this would be well-received in Asia. Cole Orobetz, Co-Founder, CEO, And CFO, Alpha Foods. Instagram would be number one but we’ve also seen an uptake in Pinterest as well as Facebook groups for sure. 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