Accelerator and incubator schemes can propel startups into success, with many entrepreneurs benefitting from advice given to them by seasoned mentors. PepsiCo’s Nutrition Greenhouse has grown in notoriety over the past year, and has expanded its focus beyond European startups to launch in the US, also.
Following Yofix’s win in the Nutrition Greenhouse programme, we spoke to CEO Steve Grun about the brand’s reason for entering the scheme, what this means for the future of Yofix, and how their product line has been positioned within a clean-label space.
Why are plant-based dairy alternatives becoming more prevalent in the market, and how is Yofix different from other products in the space?
More and more consumers are aware of the health benefits of plant-based dairy alternatives, not just lactose-intolerant and vegan consumers. This means plant-based products have seen a rapid growth in the last few years.
There is also a growing population of consumers such as vegans and flexitarians, who avoid or reduce the consumption of dairy products because of ethical and environmental issues.
Millennials and their younger peers, Generation Z, have always known plant-based dairy-free products, and are key demographics for new products. However, the long artificial list of ingredients of some plant-based dairy alternatives can put off some consumers.
Most often in order to get to dairy-free yogurt alternatives with great taste and texture, ingredients like gums, thickeners and other non-clean-label ingredients need to be added.
Yofix has developed a unique clean-label formula with a short list of all natural ingredients. Our yogurt alternatives line has an excellent taste and texture.
The ingredients used in our products are simply grains, seeds, live cultures and fruits. Yofix delivers the prebiotic & probiotic health benefits without dairy or soy carriers. Our fermented products have high nutritional values and a sustainable production process. All raw materials utilised in production remain in the final product.
“Our fermented products have high nutritional values and a sustainable production process,” says Grun.
Why is it important to be ‘soy-free’? Why is this a selling point for you?
Soy remains a controversial ingredient as many consumers avoid soy products due to negative implications on their health and the environment. Soy is linked with being a GMO crop, which may explain why consumers would avoid soy for ethical reasons. Additionally, soybeans are rich in isoflavones, a form of plant-based estrogen, which has been linked to adverse health.
Whereas most plant-based yogurt alternatives in the market place are based on one single ingredient (soy, almonds, cashews, coconut or oats), Yofix’s formula includes five basic ingredients: oats, lentils, sunflower seeds, sesame and coconut: the “Bio 5 formula”.
We don’t use added sugars, preservatives, flavourings or colours. Yet our product has the texture and great flavour of yogurt.
Yofix is not high in fat and contains proteins, calcium, iron and fibres naturally, without the need for fortification.
What are your reasons for marketing to Israel as a separate consumer base for your Only line?
The launch in Israel is the first nationwide commercial launch of our yogurt alternatives line. Yofix launched the plant-based yogurt line in Israel last month under the “Only” brand in three flavours to target the rapidly expanding demand for vegan, flexitarian, and lactose-intolerance populations.
What sets Nutrition Greenhouse apart from other accelerator schemes?
It is different from other accelerators I know, as the six-month programme happens in a virtual way. This remote accessibility means you can easily combine both the managing of your start-up in your home country while attending the programme at the same time.
It was great to be able to be in regular contact with our Pepsico mentor, Alina Imbrea while I was in Israel, where Yofix is located. This is one of the many advantages of this amazing programme.
Have you learned any important lessons from the scheme?
During the programme, we had the opportunity to collaborate with experts from some of PepsiCo’s leading brands to help us achieve accelerated growth. The programme included practical workshops and training designed to address early-stage business issues and immediate market challenges such as corporate structuring, marketing positioning and branding.
I have learned so much from the PepsiCo experts during the programme, but equally from the other nine amazing start-ups involved in the programme. This extraordinary networking opportunity between start-ups gave us all so many insights and understanding for a lot of the similar challenges we face. We are still in contact today and hopefully also in the future.
What does the future hold for Yofix in the aftermath of participating in the Nutrition Greenhouse?
Yofix will be launched globally in the near future, with a focus on Western Europe first in 2019. We are currently developing new plant-based dairy substitutes for yogurt drinks, cream cheese, coffee creamers, milk and even ice cream.
Our proprietary manufacturing technology and formulations are highly flexible and require minimum investment for versatility. We are open for strategic partnerships in several countries.
Steve Grun was talking to FoodBev Media’s Harriet Jachec.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019