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    36 min read

    [S2:Ep #11] Food service evolution and edible insects in the next gen proteins space

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    Game-changers present purposeful initiatives in next gen food. Tommaso Di Bartolo, founding partner of Awesm Ventures, along with industry fellows MJ Kinney, Food Product Development Scientist, an expert in Food & Beverage Industry and next gen proteins, and Nathan Preteseille, Consultant in Agriculture and Food ASEAN and Europe, hosts two passionate entrepreneurs in the next gen proteins space: Esra Serbes, Entrepreneur, Biologist, founder of Naturansa and Funa Foods; and Jonathan Netzky, Engineer, food production expert and Co-Founder/CEO of Local Alternative Foods and NexVeg.

    TopFloor: Where handpicked startups present sector-specific innovations to a jury of industry fellows


    In Season 2, recognized world-class Researchers, Scientists, Faculty Members, Senior Executives, Experts, Chefs, Investors and Entrepreneurs from around the globe, engage in strategic exchange of views and share startling intel on viable transformative innovation in Agriculture, Food and Beverage, zooming in the next gen proteins space.

    Topfloor is where inspiring and passionate game changers, visionary entrepreneurs share startlingly impressive intel on food of the future with a panel of experts.



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    With Special participation of



    [Industry Fellows] Topfloor: S2:E11 

    MJ Kinney

    Nathan Preteseille

    MJ Kinney
    Nathan Preteseille
    Food Product Development Scientist and Plant-Based Protein Expert
    CConsultant Agriculture et Agroalimentaire ASEAN et Europe

    [Startup Entrepreneurs] Topfloor: S2:E11 



    Jonathan Netzky-


    Esra Serbes
    Jonathan Netzky
    Founder at Naturansa and Funa Foods
    NexVeg by Local Alternative Foods - WFPB Certified Proteins and Sauces - Craft Batch - Allergen Free


    Serial entrepreneur w/ 2 exits, author, advisor, faculty, investor.
    Tommaso Di Bartolo


    Key points:

    • Cricket powder
    • Alternative products on the market
    • Clean, healthy and sustainable protein



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    Episode's 🔖 Transcription

    Tommaso: And we are live. Good morning. Hi everybody. I say good morning because based here in San Francisco, 8:30am PST but obviously it's fair to say good afternoon, or good evening depending on where you're tuning in from or dialing in. Very excited to have you here today. On our current episode of Topfloor, which is already Episode 11. 


    Cricket powder in the next gen protein space


    Tommaso:  I would like to start calling on stage Esra Serbes. Please take it from here.I'm really curious to hear what you guys are doing. 


    Esra: I'm the founder of  Naturansa, I used to work on gene cloning and protein engineering when after I became aware of the meat production and how sustainable it is, and this is how I found Naturansa. And the reason was that according to the calculations by 2050, it will require 98% of drinkable water and a landmass larger than 140% of the years for animal farming which is insane. So these numbers will increase dramatically unless we can come up with an alternative. That's why the transfer produces for now which is a meat alternative.


    Using cricket powder, we improve efficiency, sustainability and nutritional content of our products while we are meeting plant based consumer trend because we are also plant based producing a plant based product, we call it good for us which for me and good for the world because cricket powder is a complete protein which includes all nine essential amino acids, and contains two times more protein than meat, and four times more protein than the leading alternative, which is plant based and has 30 times for more beat valve than even meat. And the cricket production uses 250 times less water or two times less land, and four times less time to produce the same amount of protein than even soy I'm not even comparing with animal farming. 


    During COVID what we noticed that we needed a non perishable protein source to divert other solutions for everything else. But we couldn't find non-perishable protein content which is high in protein. So we came up with this pivot, which we created a non perishable meal kit they want our consumer can prepare in a home in minutes. And it's a ground beef alternative, which basically you can our consumer can do anything that you will do with ground beef, but they can just make it anytime they want without refrigeration. And it is free of hormones, antibiotics, GMOs and it's very low in sodium. We don't use ingredients like modified starches or canola oil, palm oil or potassium chloride, or even major flavors and plant based diets and awareness around sustainable two are changing the consumer behavior we are seeing very somewhat increases in the market, especially during COVID. 


    The plant based sales in groceries raised up to 260%. And now the consumer is more looking also for the health and nutritional part of it. That's why we sold the gap in the market and we produced tuna and the market share is the size of the total addressable market is 1.7 trillion. And thanks to beyond meat and the company is like beyond meat and impossible burger. People, not just the vegetarian or vegan people tend to go more plant based but also because they replicated the taste of meat. Meat eaters are also interested in the plant and plant based industry which makes the alternative protein companies taking more and more shares from these $1.7 trillion markets, we are first going to launch our product in our e-commerce website. And we will have both one time purchase as well as the subscription model. And V shaped the subscription model Aaron's replacing one other four meals of meat of yours. And once we achieve that, actually, only in California for a year, we will save 4 million cows, the carbon emission of 2 million cars, and 50 million of household water and the landmass is equal to South Carolina. Let's make an impact. And you can just subscribe to our newsletter so you can learn as soon as we launch our product, which is going to be very soon. Thank you.


    Farming crickets 101


    Nathan: working in Southeast Asia, I'll say on the alternative protein side, I have been especially focused on insects. And so I'm actually a bit curious about at what stage of the cricket value chain you are actually working? You're also taking care of the farming side of crickets?


    Esra: We used to actually farm back in Turkey. This is how we started. Then we launched our product in pet foods and then we received investments to come to the United States. Right once we came to the United States, we noticed that starting with human food is so much better for us then we didn't want to both focus on the farming as well as our CPG product. Because what we notice is there is no one brand which is conquering the market in CPJ in the United States, I think we are so focused on how we can form insects very efficiently that we are missing the biggest part of marketing it. Because once we publish our brand, we have the IP, which we build for two years by receiving a government grant from the government. We have been through that process. But I think, as I mentioned before, we see a lot of marketing activities that we needed, like when you look at the plant base, that success didn't come one day, one year, or like 10/15 years. They are putting in so much effort, not just r&d, but the marketing. So I think in segment history, we are so focused on focusing on the efficiency of the production, but we aren't missing the marketing side that we want to fill the gap in. 


    Nathan: I'll take  the opportunity to ask the second question actually. If I understand correctly, you are actually formulating a complete product with cricket powder, and also plant based protein and the product? How flexible are you to respond to your consumer needs? Do you have a defined formulation based on the American consumption or requirements of protein? Or what are your targets to formulate your products? And how is that adaptable live engine? 


    Esra: So what we formulated is taking the actual meat is our marker. But what we didn't put, for example, GMOs in it to fake meat tastes, we don't want to use any ingredient, which is gonna harm our consumer. Also we want to provide a complete diet for them that is different from plant based. So we are flexible in case like if it's a good thing for our consumer, like we have high fiber, they are not only focusing on replicating the protein content, we are bringing very like instead of what if I start very putting psyllium or like old fiber, those kind of good content to our product. So we are flexible in case if they are healthy and are being produced ethically that's the other thing that we are looking for from our suppliers. 


    MJ: I'm curious, just to clarify, you have powdered ingredients. And it's a combination of cricket powder and plant proteins, correct?


    Esra:  It's not just protein, like the whole, like, there's fiber in it, there's fat in it, like everything else…


    MJ: So you're using a whole milled form of crickets as opposed to like an isolated ingredient?


    Esra: We were about to launch it as a frozen burger patty, like other plant based. The difference is going to be we will have cricket powder as well as we will not have other things that I think they are using. Like very high sodium and those other things that are unhealthy in the plant based products. But during this period, during the pandemic, what we have noticed was the market share demand increased a lot. But people were not able to either grocery shops couldn't get them because there was a disruption in the supply chain, and people couldn't store them because you need refrigeration. And people didn't want to go to grocery shopping shops, but there was not available ecommerce, getting the meat or plant base which is affordable. So we sit down and think how we can produce something for people, they can actually get it in an affordable way and can store as much as they want. And they can prepare at home because we have seen everybody baking at home. 


    So I was like okay, the consumer behavior is changing. People are more open to spend time on cooking. And so that's how we came up with the powder mix. But the only thing you make is like the difference. You have the powder, you have the oil mix, you mix them together and you put the water in and then you just refrigerate it and eat whenever you want. Basically it's a plant based product like other plant based just we are letting our consumer and to make it at home as well as they can season it and do whichever they want from it.


    MJ: And there's a lot of parameters and to work on there and a major adaptation to your original plan. Congrats on figuring all that out. And I think ambient storage and the supply chain makes a lot of sense from a sustainability point of view as well. 


    I am curious because I haven't worked with cricket powder before, outside of like bars and beverages I haven't worked on it in a plant based meat type application. Can you highlight some of the inherent characteristics that make it perhaps beneficial or leading beyond what plant protein ingredients can traditionally offer? And I'm especially curious to know how it behaves when being cooked things like brownies or aroma.


    Esra: From the first question, the things that you can have with cricket powder are the essential amino acids, so we can provide them all in one product, and there is B12, without harming. So there is a difficult point some people think that insects feel pain, which they don't. But without hurting the animals, you can actually gain the animal protein that our body needs without using so many supplements and other things, which could also be high B12, which is 40 times more than animal products. So we can store that in the burger. But because it has almost 70% of protein, we cannot eat 70 gram protein just from one product during our die one day diet. That is why we are mixing it with other plant based products as well as bringing the texture into it. That is why we are using everything together. We cannot just feed people with 70% of protein. Not everybody is really calculating what they are consuming per day. When it comes to the taste we are because we mix with something which you can sometimes even feel the pea protein more than others. But our flavor is what we use. We also created our spice mix that is bringing the spices that you would normally feel taste in meat products. But we are keeping it subtle, the way that our consumer can personalize it as well. 


    MJ: I was just curious if there was something that it had as far as an inherent functional ability. And I know this will vary by ingredient. But yeah, with browning and aroma, I was wondering if there might be an advantage there.


    Esra: I think it's kinda like the cricket powder functionality. Yes, I think they're things helping but our focusing focus was not the functionality of the cricket powder, but more the nutritional and sustainable side of it.


    MJ: And I just want to touch upon something that was said earlier, it disturbed me a little bit, you had said that there's no pain cost to insects as a part of their processing. And I don't know if that can be proven or not. But I very much approached it from an animal welfare point of view. And I don't know if that's something you're advertising, but it's not something that I find convincing at the consumer.


    Esra: We didn't put it anywhere, but I want to actually write a blog post about it. You cannot really prove it, you cannot as well as you cannot prove the plants don't feel the pain, neither same experiment and same experiment was done. They reacted the same way. Because the thing we call it it's pain is different from a feeling or a reaction to it. But the basics so I have talked to a bit so many academicians, including here in the Boston area. I have a condemnation, friends from neuroscience coming from the same school. And we talked to them as well. And I'm one out. As I mentioned, I want to touch on those in a blog post. They agree that they cannot really feel the pain the way the cows can feel. But the most basic answer for let's say, like a public counselor, the reason that we have pain is sensing the danger for our survival. And if you're talking about insects, which live three days, they cannot even feel the pain, they cannot learn and avoid those dangers. As well as they cannot recover from that pain. It doesn't give them any advantage in their survival journey. That's why it doesn't make sense for insects to feel that pain. They are like stuck in a place that they cannot run away. Why in evolution should they feel the pain if they cannot even react and if It's not going to provide an advantage for them in their survival?


    MJ: That's an interesting perspective. And it's okay that I don't think that we'll see eye to eye on this. I just wanted to voice that concern.


    Esra: No, I totally understand. I'm sure we will hear it from so many people. And, again, we don't need to convince everyone, this is my perspective. And this is coming from a science background that I have and coming from, and different parts of the science, not just like neuroscience, but when you are talking about the science, it's all other things like I think evolution makes so much sense in this concept. And again, not everybody has to agree with it. And we are not trying to sell the product to everyone, we are actually not even trying to target vegetarian or vegan people, because they're only doing the right thing. We are here trying to incentivize animal animal production, like red meat production. So that's why I don't feel any reason to try to convince everyone.

    Tommaso: I have a follow up question here. The market is already challenging when on itself because it's new and needs a lot of evangelization of marketing in order to get people ready to embrace more and more this cause or to go mainstream, especially when you are in the shelf. You are now challenged. The question here really is, as a startup, you have all hands full with all kinds of priorities all in parallel, right? What are your ways, your educational strategy, your go to market? How do you think about changing to behavior one, the product on itself, which is new? Secondly, the way that you consume your product, what you have in mind on how to surpass basically these challenges?


    Esra: People are open to education, more than ever, because we have noticed this year about climate change more than ever and that our health is so important. The nutrition that we need to receive from what we consume is so important. So I think it's a very right time to launch such a product. And as I mentioned, people are more open to cooking at home. But we are not just relying on the b2c consumer. There are so many things going on also in the supply chain that come to restaurants or hotels, but we are not talking about this right now. Because they're older, they're having their own issues. I hope they're gonna answer soon so they can keep their businesses but once we come to that point, also. So during the pandemic, we are going to focus on ecommerce, let's summarize it that way. People have more time to cook at home. And if there is a more affordable, but much healthier and more sustainable product, I will as a consumer, I will definitely get that one, especially when I have time to cook at home.

    Tommaso: How have you been valid? One thing is having an assumption, which is saying, because the product is not on the market, I say "Hey, I think that they will have been validating right now". What was the process like?


    Esra: So we have been doing feedback sessions, we created our consumer journey, which I would like you to be a part of as well, if you want to try the product, you can, I can send you email the link, and I can send you the sample. So once we send you the sample, you are going to go through receiving it and having the information help to cook it. And then we would like to see what you created with it. And then at the end of it, we have a customer interview with you, our team will have like, depending on your availability, but around 2030 minutes of interview session or if you prefer a feedback session. So we have been doing these interviews. We did it before we created the product, but also during this period. We are also questioning it and they're all encouraging. We are having a hard time receiving negative feedback so we can improve our products.

    Tommaso:  I have only one final question before we switch to Jonathan. So as an entrepreneur, what is your priority number one, in a 90 day plan from now up to the end of the year? 


    Esra: I want to  hear as much as I can from the consumer. It's very important for us to improve as much as we can before our heavier launch vehicle, which is going to be in January. But we are still in the process of launching. 

    Tommaso: How are you empowering the consumer to bring you the feedback? What did you feel? What's the flow there?


    Esra: I mean, if you ask people their thoughts, they are  willing to give you the feedback. It's basically we didn't have any hard time and we are using the advantage of people having more time than ever.


    Tommaso: Okay, perfect. Awesome. Well, you heard it. Thank you so much, Ezra, entrepreneur, biologist, founder of Naturansa and Funa Foods. Thank you so much. Congratulations on your endeavor. 


    Alternative production 

    Tommaso: Well, Jonathan, please start sharing your screen if you want to present something, right?


    Jonathan:  Hello, everybody. Thanks for being here. I'm Jonathan. I'm the founder of Local Alternative Foods. By degree I'm actually a mechanical engineer and by passion, an agriculturalist. with an emphasis on food and local commerce. We kind of combined my backgrounds into the next batch product lines that I'll be sharing with you today. Think of next veggies being well, two meat replacements. What grass fed beef is as compared to mass produced Keiko beef, meaning next vege is about better products as a result of a better process. 


    So it's clear that the booming market for meat alternatives remains quite far from addressing the real concerns that consumers are now voicing the latest plant based demand creators claim it's frankly all about taste, price and convenience, yet consumers are informing themselves. And they're keying on the importance of clean whole food ingredients that they understand the relationship to their health and environmental benefits. This left a gaping hole for better products that can meet that demand. And now my company works almost exclusively in food service with chefs and restaurant tours, who have an even different lens on the challenges in plant based dining. And most of them have considered veggie burgers. Unnecessary evil, they are historically made from substandard ingredients, and they lack the current culinary versatility to support their well curated and otherwise predominantly real food menus.


    So our prospects and clients are sharing that the new age of fake meats are actually competing directly with ground beef. Well, while that's their intention, this challenge is one of the highest profit converting items to the restaurant. And with some of these products costing 400% more than ground beef, and only having a shelf life of two to four days, the resulting waste due to spoilage and is further decreasing the profit potential and it's really nullifying their value proposition to many operators of every scale. 


    So if we look at the market opportunity overall, you know, based on the current studies that you can see presented here, there's at least a $35 billion market for plant based meats coming to the table. And while proof that you know tremendous demand exists for better products that can solve these problems. I'm going to break this down further in a few minutes to the market that we really see and first understand as well that these indicators are based exclusively on ingredient isolates, concentrates and protein flowers. It isn't hard to see that the ingredients used to make meat alternatives other than the oils, well that they simply aren't ingredients chosen for use in our homes or in fact even in commercial kitchens. They're heavily processed to meet the needs of industrial scale production equipment. They also help build good looking nutrition panels. Unfortunately, they're not highly nutritious diverse products, just good nutrition panels. None of them serve as a specialty or highlight ingredient capable of drawing attention to a menu item. More often than not, they're actually pushing away discerning data be added as an allergen or an unknown ingredient that they're not familiar with cooking with the core meat alternative ingredients are far from what anyone would define as clean and every step in transforming an ingredient from its natural grown form into a heavily processed ingredient that you see here has indomitably destroyed flavor and nutrition while creating waste and increasing the carbon footprint. 


    We've worked with several American Culinary Federation certified chefs, leading hospitality chefs to elevate the plant based center of the plate protein beyond the veggie burger. Together with them, we've really solved for top shelf quality, culinary versatility, and food service profitability. We've not only chosen ingredients for flavor and protein quality, but for inherent social responsibility as well. You know, the temporary beans that we see here are indigenous to the Sonoran Desert. They're dry farmed on federally impoverished lands. And these beings have actually been studied for their ability to reverse the diabetic condition. And one of the most diabetes play communities in the world, at the same time is being touted as a most sustainable and humane protein source on Earth. 


    That's a menu highlight that our customers are really getting leverage out of. So we welcome everyone to eat the non allergen and the first certified whole food plant based ready to cook protein lines that are designed for food service, we call it next fetch. The key, like anything else, is using the best ingredients that offer the greatest impact. You know, here we're highlighting hemp, really for its ability to contribute to 16 grams of complete protein in a four ounce patty, and its ability to offset carbon, as hemp can sequester more carbon during its rapid growth cycle than any other plant on Earth.


     So how do we bring together delicious, wholesome and profitable? Well, frankly, it's not by spending energy isolating the constituent fats, fiber and protein, we keep the grade ingredients in their whole form and use our proprietary micro batching IP to extol all the flavor, nutrition and binders needed to really machine or hand form the raw products that you see her on the table. This highly disruptive processing technology we call f cubed. It's designed to process fresh Whole Foods at any scale is now simultaneously producing three product lines in five different flavors on a single scalable production work cell, you know by purveying processing and distributing and a lean discipline. Next, batch accomplices optimal nutritional outcomes, we have 95% conversion of all incoming weight. That's the best ingredients and their packaging to our finished goods. And the resulting waste is just 0.5% of everything that comes in our door. 


    Most importantly, these are products that anyone would eat, and enjoy while they're striving to a carbon and water neutral footprint to achieve, you know, true sustainability. It really does come down to choosing the right whole food ingredients and lightly combining them. We're creating a paradigm shift in the industry, a shift from the notion of being more sustainable than something else, which is really just a marketing spin on saying Well, we're doing less harm than something else to a reality of do no harm or do good. You know what some companies they're claiming a 90% carbon reduction over beef one of the most polluting carbon polluting industries on Earth, the overwhelming use of refined oil and heavily processed isolates results in a carbon footprint that's actually 90% greater than that of next veggies 100% whole food, hemp and seed line.


     We're seeing the value of this in food service as the first legit chain just salad just two weeks ago published the first carbon footprint menus throughout every item in all 50 plus of their locations, allowing diners to actually choose not just on nutrition or appearance or ingredient lists but on the carbon footprint of their food. Let's also be very clear that there's overwhelming bona fide medical evidence that whole food plant based is healthier than eating whole food animal forward diet and has far healthier outcomes than heavily processed plant based diets. So if you know, product and process hopefully now understood, you know, let me further delve into the market opportunity we see. There's solid evidence that we are out in front of the whole thing. plant based opportunity in protein, including the fact that it's not yet even considered in the indicators of the future protein production or demand. So in a growing, you know, trillion plus dollar meat marketplace, there's a clear opportunity to claim a swath of the vegan vegetarian and flexitarian market with Whole Foods, plant based proteins.


    I present the value added whole food products that solve for true Sustainability, and a healthy yet delicious lifestyle. It just five to 10% represents 100 to $200 billion market opportunity, knowing how the next page really performs in the marketplace, as we've talked about working in food service, you know, the consistent answer is about twice as well as other plant based products that compete for the same spot on the menu. You know, in fact, this story that you're looking at here is one of a company that attempted to find profits, with both the leading fake meat products for a year each. And then with a nut burger after that, next veggie replaced that nut burger and outperformed all of them doubling their category revenue for the restaurant chain. 


    So where are we headed, while beer is what we're after, for the next 15 months. The values for the size of the market here are actually because I don't feel a great level of confidence in some of the studies that I reported as relates to whole food plant based, this is actual data from our annual sales where we took the average value of an account in these markets, and we multiplied it by the number of opportunities in each market. So and by the way, that not COVID adjusted this. And we all have to respect that, you know, Harvard just put out a study that shows that the food industry has been hit three times harder in terms of job loss than any other industry via COVID. So you know, having sold as well as part of our proof of concept into university, k 12, hospital, corporate banquets, and catering and even grocery for CPG products. With the right investment at this point in time, we actually understand how to accelerate our expansion into those markets, simultaneously, to the targeting that you see here. So you know, the big, big picture for us going forward, you know, back in Q1, we actually expanded our facility, from the proof of concept to address national opportunity, and march was on pace to more than double the tour in 2019. And will on the 13th finish, I won't forget it Friday, the 13th of March, we didn't see another diamond revenue for the rest of the month. 


    Yet, our unique production systems allowed us to continue to serve the same quality and on demand consistency, to the degree that several clients, even one of our distributors, came to us in the last two months and complimented us for being the only vendor they have that's maintaining that level of supplier integrity since the onset of the pandemic. So you know, at this point, I'm actually overjoyed to share that we just got our September numbers through. And we're actually back to growth we're 9% up from last year, September, and believe that COVID will actually render in 2021 menu changes to be the most health and sustainability focused opportunities in our history. And so we're now tracking the forecast for 2021 of 300 to 1,000% growth, achieving that will position us to build out our cell based modular f cubed lean production system, actually into shipping containers as its originally been designed for so it can go anywhere in the world. 


    We'll create new recipes based on the local and regional ingredients and flavors present in each of those markets, as we've done here in the southwest, with a temporary bean and other ingredients. And that'll really allow us to close the gap between agriculture and consumption, offering Queen clean quality proteins regionally, and affordably around the world. One step in one day at a time.


    In the market


    MJ: Thank you so much for providing us with that depth of knowledge when it comes to your products. As a product developer, I'm often looking right at the products. I really appreciated seeing the labels, the gritty declaration, and I noticed something off to the side right corner, which was SOS for no added sugar, oil or salt. And I have come to find in my own work as a public consultant that this is something that's rising in popularity as far as a formulation priority. So I'd like to know a little bit about why that may be as well as any facts or figures you can share about the size of that population that's interested in that kind of declaration. And if you see it being possibly the next level of clean label for the food industry.


    Jonathan: I believe I probably have more hours of feet on the street than a lot of people towards that question. So, you know, what we really came to was over the past year, we made an effort prior to COVID. Actually, we made an effort into the CPG realm. And in doing so, the product lines were already free of added sugars and added oils. So that product really just removes all of the seasoning, including the salt, in that one flavor variety from that product line. And so what we understand is, this is really based on a nutritarian diet. That diet was founded by john Mackey, the founder of Whole Foods Market, and a doctor by the name of Dr. Joel Fuhrman, in pursuing that market, we found it to be from an e-commerce perspective, a digital perspective, almost miniscule, not viable for National Business through fulfillment centers at this point in time. 


    Now, that said, the product has a dual purpose for us, if you recall, I we're really 100% still focused on food service and return to those roots, this product gives us the ability to give one of our formulas to the chef, allow them to create their own seasoning blend, and then give that back to us so that we can make the seasoning blend in the product for them reducing labor in their kitchen, to put out the high quality whole food plant based form. At the same time, it's actually a delicious product. And without any seasoning at all, all of those Whole Foods come together and create a lot of flavor. So the reality of what we are seeing in the marketplace, rather than an out word or an outcry for an SOS product. We've actually seen live kindly, one of the largest, you know media organizations in plant based after a very long time and many discussions with them we had in the last few months, they put out a segment called nutritiously and nutritiously is exclusively dedicated to whole food plant based. 


    What I believe to be the case is that whole foods plant based actually eliminates the oil without eliminating the salt, which is much harder for us to do and still maintain delicious food. And so the whole food plant based is starting to gain some energy. And I've seen that in five or six other places where we're literally the only whole food plant based certified product in the world for an international organization of wf the only other food item even certified is a farm that sells blueberries. So it's not something easy to do and be able to scale to a viable quality quantity of product in the marketplace. When you know the market for something like SOS right now is very niche, very small. And I think I am very focused on prevention and curative lifestyle medicine.


    MJ: So if I understand correctly, your SOS is actually kind of like a blank canvas approach to your first service clients. They can customize their own life and ingredient blend into and that you would later customize for them on a commercial scale, as well as big as SLS offering to the consumer. Am I right?


    Jonathan: It is very much so the dual reality to it. And you know, we had an account that was created that makes homemade sausages and they wanted to actually deep fry one of our products and they made it spicy Italian blend. And the word for them to mix it in was difficult. They asked us to take over. And that was really where the SOS product you know was innovated from.


    MJ: Quick question. You're able to share your minimum order quantity for customizing something from your SOS blend for a food service partner?


    Jonathan: I absolutely love that question because based on the way that we do our lean manufacturing, our minimum order quantity is a single 24 pound case, we can make in any flavor at any point in time. And so it's really been a premise for us to be able to work with any scale of opportunity. From You know, we've innovated products for residential dining at one of the top five largest universities in the country. Our number one flavor was actually invented one case at a time working with the restaurants throughout all of the Grand Canyon, which arguably has the most diverse audience for taste testing in the worker on a seasonal basis, and so that ability to drive our products forward and not have minimum quantities, opens our doors up to every caliber and scale of client.

    Tommaso: Nathan, what are your thoughts?


    Nathan: Maybe linking back to the previous presentation, I will have a specific question and a quick one on nutritional aspects, Actually, there could be some potential lacks of any kind of nutrients in your products, compared to what we spoke about before insects and the presence of essential amino acids, B12, that is not often present in plant based diets. What are your views on that? And how do you compensate for that potential in your products?


    Jonathan: We've had to address that directly. The hemp and seed line you see there, we're using the top three forms of complete protein in the plant based world. And so from a complete protein perspective, all the essential amino acids are there. In our temporary beam line, we actually found that the temporary beam was lacking in lysine. And so as part of the formulation, we also have Navajo blue corn available in great abundance in our region. And it's very high in lysine. And so we've been able to balance out the amino acids so that it's transparent, really, to the end user of the product to get a full and complete protein profile. 


    Now, B12, on the other hand, is another question and it's not something that we've addressed by adding it to our product. We have gone one to two a second degree. And it's something that I haven't presented here, except if you read the details in the last slide. And that is as part of transitioning. As a part of our testing in the consumer world. We wanted to create a product that was easy to ship anywhere. And in doing so we also wanted to meet the number one demand that we've had from our food service client base. And that is cheese, can you give us a dairy free non allergen plant based cheese. And so where we've addressed the B12, is by making a whole food, plant based vegan, cheesy sauce, and Nacho sauce that contains nutritional yeast with the supplements of B12 in it. And so it's not directly being added to any of our proteins. But it is something that we offer, you know, as a supplement, and we believe that our client base is either flexitarian, where they're already getting B12. Or they're conscious of their need for it. Great, thanks a lot. And for the record in food service, I cannot share a restaurant with you that actually serves bacon but has not served our product with bacon and cheese on it. It's just part of the way people choose to eat. And you know, we believe if we can replace that giant hunk of meat with something that's more ethical. We've made incredible strides there.


    Making connections


    Tommaso: I would like to bottom line like we usually do here at Topfloor, where the mission is not just to convey to the world share with the world, big brains of entrepreneurs, scientists and others and make this topic more tangible but also to create connections. 

    Now my question here is MJ It started with you curious to have some more insight on how to mix the product from Esra, yes or no?


    MJ: I'm always interested in continuing conversation and as your I would very much enjoy reading your blog piece when you are done writing it or while you are writing it.

    Tommaso: MJ, How about Jonathan, more periods to add more information there?


    MJ: Yeah. Well, you know, Tommaso,you do a really great job of bringing in interesting people to have conversations with so yes, of course, I'd be interested in having a conversation again with Jonathan.

    Tommaso: Nathan, what are your thoughts? 


    Nathan: I would say MJ said everything. I mean, you're doing a great job, actually. And I'm pretty happy to continue the conversation and have been working more on my side on the alternative protein from insects. So it's pretty interesting to continue the conversation with Esra, but I was really also pretty convinced by Jonathan, job and presentation as well. So happy to connect and discuss further. That would be great.


    Tommaso: I usually wrap up always with a quote that really, and not only touches my heart but something that I learned to craft over the last 20 years of startups here and there which goes like this:


    Tommaso: “Never forget where you come from, it keeps you humble. But where you come from, cannot limit you where you want to go.”


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