Manifesting a Mission: NOSH Live Winter 2017

Entrepreneurs arrived to NOSH Live Winter 2017 hungry for industry information and were able to fill up on a buffet of insights, knowledge and networking.

From investors and innovators to entrepreneurs and industry veterans, CPG’s best and brightest came together at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 30 for Project NOSH’s biannual business conference. Presentations ranged from how to find profit in mission-based businesses to how to best work with investors, and networking breaks echoed with actionable advice and stories from market leaders.

The morning kicked off with a presentation from John Foraker, co-founder and CEO of HPP baby food brand Once Upon A Farm and former CEO of leading natural food company Annie’s. While on stage he noted that when he embraced the concept of mission at Annie’s, the company saw a major boom in sales and a deeper connection with consumers. It was then, he added, that he realized mission’s impact.

“The business model is the engine that drives and pushes social impact so you have to get them both right,” Foraker said.

The idea of staying true to mission continued to resonate throughout the day. Adnan Durrani, CEO and founder of American Halal Co, Inc., maker of Saffron Road, spoke about how he tried to carry his company mission with him as he looked to connect with potential investors. Chronicling the journey of his mission-driven company, Tyler Merrick, founder of natural confection brand Project 7, discussed the good, the bad and the “F5 Tornado” moments that occurred while learning how to balance mission, good business practices and product quality.

Adapting to consumer preferences was also a repeated theme during NOSH Live. Neil Grimmer, who disrupted the baby food industry with Plum Organics, spoke about how he is using individualized data from blood testing to customize nutrition as the CEO of Habit Inc. And just like diets are not one-size-fits-all, Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert spoke about how retailers need to be more flexible regarding product categories and how they allow their consumers to shop, too.

“The more we try to fit products into a box, the more we will fail,” Lempart said. “The industry needs curiosity.”

Distribution and snack guru Michael Renkosiak advised attendees companies on how they can best utilize the offerings and promotions of their distributor in order to have the most impact in today’s changing retail environment.

So what’s driving this industry-wide evolution? Changing consumer preferences, according to investment banker Janica Lane, a managing director with Piper Jaffray. During her presentation Lane noted the ongoing shifts are the biggest threat identified by most CEOs, and are affecting how brands and retail channels operate. Kathryn Peters, EVP of retailer services at SPINS, and Brian Reed, principal of market structure at IRI, discussed how data providers have started to look at categories beyond the term’s traditional definition. Benjamin Levy, VP of Echo Capital, and Sabrina Merage Naim, a principal for Echo Capital, took a deeper dive into millennials specifically, looking at data to show how this generation is changing the industry and in turn the investment community.

For investors, personalization, data and mission carry different weights. Many investors base their decisions on their gut feelings and personal relationships. Brett Thomas, cofounder of CAVU Venture Partners – the investment firm that recently helped back industry darlings such as Hippeas, Bulletproof, One Bar and Vital Proteins – shared how his firm decided which companies to invest in and what entrepreneurs can do to make their businesses more appealing. Alison Ryu, managing director of CircleUp, spoke about how CircleUp’s newest platform Helio is using predominantly data to determine where to place their dollars.

“Heuristics and bias aren’t just unfair, they lead to less informed investment decisions,” Ryu said during her presentation.

Still, there is a role for human relationships and emotion in CPG, according to Mark Sisson. Sisson brought NOSH Live full circle with his presentation on how his passion and purpose for living a healthy lifestyle helped him create booming paleo-inspired brand, Primal Kitchen. The longtime fitness blogger said his established community of readers were crucial to his success.

“I really believe that 100 well placed bloggers and influencers is worth an email list of 300,000 people,” Sisson said.

Pitch Slam NOSH Live Winter 2017

TRIBALÍ Foods cooked up a victory at the Winter 2017 NOSH Live Pitch Slam.

The California-based company brand of frozen, grassfed and finished beef and chicken patties won the third annual Pitch Slam, sponsored by ADM, based on what judges said were strong flavors and intuitive packaging design that served as a “road map for the mind.”

“The winner was the one that had the most uniqueness, and looked like it had market potential and could resonate with consumers – that was important,” Greg Fleishman, one of four judges during the slam, told NOSH. “TRIBALÍ has ancestral recipes that they modernized to a format that people are consuming every day right now, so bringing that to a dinner party or a lunch party was awesome and that hadn’t been done before today.”

TRIBALÍ’s line of meat patties are paleo certified, Whole30 approved, and Non-GMO Project Verified. Current flavors include Mediterranean Style Beef, Umami Beef, and Chipotle Chicken, made with free range chicken. The products retail for between $11.99-$13.99 per box of four patties and have secured placement in the South Pacific region of Whole Foods, Lassens, and Erewhon.

TRIBALÍ was not the only brand to grace NOSH’s stage. Other competing companies included Dream Pops, which produces a line of “superfood ice cream” popsicles; Go Roam Free, a 100 percent bison cut meat snack brand based in Montana; Funny Farm, a goat milk focused brand with lines of cheese popcorn and mac and cheese; and One Culture Foods, an Asian inspired cooking sauce maker that recently extended its offerings to include Asian noodle cups.

“The winner was the one that had the most uniqueness, and looked like it had market potential and could resonate with consumers – that was important,” – Greg Fleishman, one of four judges during the slam