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Meet the Founders of Higher Nature Tempeh

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Tempeh is a scrumptious plant-based meals made by fermenting complete soybeans so that they grow to be much more nutritious and versatile – it’s beans made higher. Not simply one other meat different, tempeh has been a staple in Indonesian delicacies for over 300 years, and now Higher Nature Tempeh is the UK’s fastest-growing and highest-rated tempeh model.

An award-winning B-corporation that’s at the moment overfunding on Seedrs, Higher Nature Tempeh goes from energy to energy and so they have formidable plans for the long run. We sat down with its 4 co-founders, Elin Roberts (CMO), Christopher Kong (CEO), Driando Ahnan-Winarno (CTO) and Fabio Rinaldo (COO), to seek out out extra.

Meat substitutes and protein-based merchandise have had a difficult previous 12 months. How do you expect market development will look, and the way do you propose to take care of this? 

The meat-free class has admittedly shrunk over the past 12 months, however not practically as a lot because the media has made it appear! In line with NielsenIQ knowledge, there’s been a 1.5% YoY drop in whole unit gross sales which is hardly the “loss of life” of the trade because the media has been portraying. Whole worth gross sales have really elevated by 7.6% YoY (a number of that is down to cost will increase, nonetheless). 

The shrinkage of the meat-free class is basically attributable to the price of residing disaster and this drop in quantity gross sales shouldn’t be distinctive to the meat-free class – all branded FMCG classes are feeling the squeeze. Meat itself had a really difficult 2022, with contemporary meat experiencing a 11.1% worth decline. That stated, provided that inflation is plateauing and shoppers have tailored to the brand new regular, there are causes to be bullish that the meat-free class will return to development in 2023/24. 

The enterprise alternative for meat-free merchandise within the UK and globally remains to be large. Within the UK in 2022, 7.2m folks stated that they adopted a meat-free food regimen – a determine which had elevated 40% within the 12 months prior. There has additionally been a major rise in flexitarians which, in accordance with YouGov, now consists of 14% of the UK inhabitants. This pattern shouldn’t be distinctive to the UK; plant-based meals are anticipated to make up 7.7% of the worldwide protein market by 2030 with a worth of over $162 billion, up from $29.4 billion in 2020.

Extra details about the efficiency of the meat-free class within the UK may be discovered right here in The Grocer’s Focus On Plant-Primarily based Meat Report which was revealed mid-August 2023.

With many various manufacturers of tempeh, tofu, and different meat substitutes in the marketplace, are you able to inform us why Higher Nature Tempeh is, nicely, higher? 

At first, we’re targeted on distinctiveness and differentiation, relatively than crowding an already widespread class. Most manufacturers within the meat-free/plant-based house intention to duplicate animal merchandise and centre their message round being a extra sustainable choice. 

However, our focus is creating the healthiest meat-free meals that also style scrumptious, however received’t style like meat. With a meals as naturally nutritious and versatile as tempeh, we’re in a robust place to determine this rising class and never get misplaced within the crowd. 

In comparison with different tempeh companies, our success is primarily attributable to 3 core elements: the energy of our workforce, our product vary and our model. 

We’ve assembled a stellar band of tempeh fanatics joined by a mission to assist folks stay more healthy lives. Outdoors of the core full-time workforce, now we have surrounded ourselves with a superb roster of freelancers and advisors who can every boast a long time of expertise spanning all-things FMCG from Gross sales & Advertising to Management & Tradition.

From the workforce stems our category-leading product vary. We’re proud to have the UK’s highest-rated tempeh vary judging from our Trustpilot and Amazon evaluations. Our merchandise have additionally received revered trade accolades: our BBQ Items not too long ago received a Nice Style Award, our Curry Items is a Finalist in The Grocer’s New Product & Packaging Awards, and our Natural Tempeh received Silver within the Nourish Vegan Awards.

Constructing off the most effective tempeh vary in the marketplace, we’ve established the strongest model. As talked about, when creating our model, we didn’t need to get misplaced within the ever-growing crowd of meat-free merchandise. As an alternative of following a lot of our rivals and shouting about being meaty and sustainable, we give attention to what makes tempeh distinctive: its unbelievable well being credentials. Our model is all about celebrating the enjoyment of consuming nicely, mirrored in our tagline is “Life’s higher with tempeh”. Tempeh isn’t attempting to be meat – it’s a naturally nutritious and scrumptious meals that anybody and everybody can take pleasure in and add protein, fibre and gut-friendly prebiotics to their food regimen. 

It’s thrilling to listen to that you simply intend to launch a spread of ready-to-eat merchandise, akin to burgers and veggie balls. Has it been tough to strike a steadiness between presenting tempeh as a meat-substitute or as a supply of protein in its personal proper? 

Thanks – we’re very enthusiastic about this! 

Not likely. We’re very clear on what we’re and what we’re not. Our primary purpose is to supply our clients probably the most pure and nutritious merchandise in the marketplace. Proper now, which means our merchandise won’t style like meat. If that’s what you’re in search of, we’re not your model. That’s been an important lesson for us to study: if you happen to attempt to please everybody, you find yourself pleasing nobody. 

Nonetheless, accessibility can also be essential and as tempeh shouldn’t be an particularly well-known meals within the UK, we need to current it in additional pure, nutritious variations of codecs individuals are conversant in like veggie balls and burgers. In order that they really feel extra assured to prepare dinner with it, what to serve it with, and so forth. 

Nonetheless, we make it very clear that these nuggets and burgers won’t style like meat. Once more, that will not attraction to everybody however from our analysis, we all know lots of people are in search of merchandise like this – pure, wholesome, handy and scrumptious. 

It’s all about managing buyer expectations. We’re additionally engaged on our “Tempeh 2.0”, a brand new method of creating tempeh, which can create a genuinely meat or fish-like product in an all-natural, nutritious method. As soon as we’re proud of the standard of those merchandise by way of a style and dietary perspective, we’ll talk otherwise. However not till then  – precisely managing our buyer’s expectations comes first.

While tofu and tempeh differentiate massively, they’re related in that they’re each made utilizing soybeans. Do you may have any plans to develop a line of tofu or different meat-substitutes sooner or later? 

We don’t, for a lot of causes: 

  • We’re all about serving to folks stay more healthy lives, and we expect tempeh is uniquely and finest positioned to take action, as it’s the world’s most naturally nutritious plant-based protein. Tempeh has round 50% extra protein than tofu, 7 instances the fibre and being fermented, can also be way more simply digestible and crammed with prebiotics in contrast to tofu. 
  • Tempeh is an Indonesian meals and now we have proud Indonesian roots, with one in every of us (Driando) born and bred in Indonesia and all of us very captivated with giving again to Indonesia together with donating 1% of our gross sales to an Indonesian not-for-profit preventing malnutrition. 
  • We’re consultants in tempeh, with Driando having finished a PhD on tempeh and its optimistic impression on human well being and our NPD on tempeh being world-leading. 
  • The potential for tempeh is sort of limitless, from enjoying round with its fermentation course of to reinforce its dietary properties, to turning it into an enormous vary of merchandise – it should hold us very busy! 
  • We don’t need to lose focus – once more attempting to please everybody means you don’t please anybody.

While tempeh is undoubtedly higher for the planet in comparison with animal merchandise, do you may have any insurance policies or initiatives in place to ensure Higher Nature Tempeh is the best choice in terms of a sustainably-produced protein product? 

For certain! There’s masses we do to attempt to be as ethically and environmentally sound as doable however we’ll share the highest three: 

  1. We’re a licensed B CorpTM with a rating of 99.7 – making us the highest-rated meat-free model within the UK. There’s nonetheless much more to do however it’s a superb start line and an awesome reflection of our dedication to doing enterprise for good. 
  2. Our complete tempeh vary has both a really low or low carbon ranking, verified by My Emissions in a farm to fork evaluation. 
  3. We donate 1% of all our gross sales to not-for-profit YUM, to assist sort out malnutrition in Indonesia, the house of tempeh. 

You’re crowdfunding for £400k+ and already have a backing of £1 million + from angels and VCs. What do you propose to do with the cash you increase? 

We’ve a number of plans and ambitions for the long run – two of those being increasing our distribution and our vary of merchandise. We need to broaden our retail distribution within the UK and Germany, launch within the US and broaden our foodservice distribution. We additionally need to launch our hybrid ready-to-heat and meat-free snacking ranges, whole-cut meat alternate options made utilizing Tempeh 2.0, and our substances vary.

What’s your imaginative and prescient for Higher Nature Tempeh in 5 years time? 

We plan to be one of many UK and Europe’s main meat-free manufacturers, with tempeh a mainstream meals and us having an in depth vary to go well with a variety of events, from ready-to-heat, ready-to-eat to snacking. We plan to be quickly rising within the US and contemplating which different markets we are able to broaden into. 

In the event you needed to convert one individual to tempeh, what Higher Nature Tempeh product would you employ and what meal would you make them? 

Nice query! We’d most likely use our Natural Tempeh and make Tempe Kecap – a deliciously candy, sticky and crispy dish from Indonesia, served with rice. It’s a surefire winner. 

What has been the best studying in your journey? 

There have been so many learnings, however the biggest one needs to be: your individuals are all the things. That’s not simply your workforce, who’re extremely essential, but additionally your clients, companions, community, buyers, advisors and so forth.

This implies: taking the time to nurture these relationships, giving as a lot if no more than you’re taking, listening to know to not reply, receiving and giving constructive suggestions gracefully, reflecting on how one can talk higher, being open, genuine and clear and remembering that initially, we’re all human beings who need to really feel heard and supported. 

As soon as you are able to do that, all the things turns into a lot simpler. Individuals need to work with you, enable you to, join you with others, your workforce works extra successfully and joyfully collectively, you develop a lot extra in your position and you are feeling a lot much less alone on this weird expertise of founding a enterprise. 

What motivates you? 

Our core mission: to assist folks stay more healthy lives. Whether or not that’s the substances going into our merchandise, donating 1% of our gross sales to YUM, how we shield our workforce’s wellbeing, the content material we share on social media or how we work with our companions. Individuals’s wellbeing all the time comes first for us. 

As a part of this, after all now we have an enormous love for tempeh and the position we expect it may possibly play in reaching our mission. That’s why we’ve set ourselves a really audacious (however life like) purpose of getting 500 million folks consuming tempeh by 2030. Our unwavering perception that tempeh will grow to be a mainstream meals and the optimistic impression it will have on folks’s well being may be very motivating. 

Is there one explicit high quality that your speedy workforce shares, aside from a love of tempeh? 

To be “better-bound”. It’s a time period we’ve coined and it’s one in every of our core values. It means to all the time try to do issues higher – to advertise wellbeing higher, to be extra moral, efficient, artistic, joyful and so forth. As a part of this, we give ourselves and one another house to make errors, be susceptible and we actually attempt to embrace failure as a technique to study and develop. We predict it’s the one technique to actually discover a higher method and is without doubt one of the most important causes we’ve skilled the success now we have. 

You’re all nonetheless so younger, and I do know that you simply turned down job provides or gave up your jobs to work on Higher Nature Tempeh. Was there a specific second that made you realise this was what you wanted to give attention to, and in that case, might you share this with us? 

The second was totally different for all of us, nonetheless by the point all of us got here collectively we actually knew that is what we wished to give attention to. And the truth that the 4 of us had such differing and complementary talent units, personalities and experiences, however have been bounded by a ardour for wellbeing and love for tempeh, made this even clearer. 

We knew we had an enormous problem forward of us, launching a little-known meals into the mainstream isn’t any imply feat, however we knew we have been the folks to do it. That perception has by no means left us, regardless of the various challenges which have come our method operating a enterprise by means of Brexit, a pandemic, cost-of-living disaster and way more. So that actually tells you one thing!

You’ll find out extra about Higher Nature Tempeh’s workforce, technique, merchandise and marketing campaign right here

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