The OG of plant-based, co-founders of Hungry Planet, Inc., Jody Boyman and Todd Boyman join Elysabeth Alfano on The Plantbased Business Hour. They discuss their long journey in plant-based: the good, the bad, and the future of food.
Specifically, they discuss,
- Why, after so many years in R&D, did they launch this year in CPG/retail,
- Their prolific product line,
- How they developed food service and with what messaging to chefs,
- Their thoughts on clean ingredients and labels,
- Their relationship with Post and what is has meant for distributions and the $25 million raise,
A clip and transcript from their long-form conversation is below. The podcast is here.
Elysabeth: Just generally speaking, and I get the comment a lot and you probably do too, “Oh, I don’t want to hear about version 2.0 or 3.0. My food isn’t a cell phone.” What do you say to that?
Todd Boyman: Yeah absolutely, I agree. Food should be a cultural experience. It should nourish your body and your soul. It should help regenerate the planet and it isn’t all about the features out there. I think the way we really thought about it, you know, there’s the saying that a problem well defined is half solved. We spent a lot of time thinking through “what’s the problem we’re trying to solve?” And because this all started so long ago, there was neither a market for it nor anybody clamoring saying, “Hey, when are you going to get this to market so we can have outside investors?”
We didn’t have any pressure to get something to market. We really could take the time to reflect on what the problem is we’re trying to solve. And the mission of our business is to bend the curve on personal and planetary health, full stop. That is the mission of our business. So, if you take that seriously and you say, “Well, how do you do that using plant-based meats?” we think is one of the most effective levers to make that change. There’s all sorts of data to support that.
We step back and see that this is a global issue. Globally pork is the most consumed meat on the planet, then chicken, and then beef. Then you have crab, turkey, lamb, and all these others. So, if we want to look at this holistically and say we want to bend that curve globally, we need to address all meat types and it’s not just planetary health but it’s personal health. So, in that initial matrix of what we were trying to solve it was the nutritional component that was really important. It was less about the science, and it was more about we define that as the center of the problem that we want to solve.
So, when you start building out that matrix of what you’re trying to do you say, “Okay, it’s plant-based: check. It’s taste and texture: check. It’s the right natural taste: check.” It’s also the nutritional piece. You’ve got to get that right and you start with that and then once we’ve figured that out, we lay onto it, “Does it handle store preparation and cook like conventional meat?” Because you can’t come up with something that suddenly is going to break the supply chain or suddenly chefs, whether professional or at home, are going to say, “Well, what do I do with this?”
So, it was a multi-dimensional problem that we set out to solve, but we had the benefit of time and no pressure to get [to market]. So we could get it right the first time and deliver exactly what we are unveiling now for people to explore and hopefully include in their diet.