In this episode, we’re joined by Andrew Runette, Operations Manager at Pod Foods, and the Founder and CEO of Natural Food Solutions, an operations and strategy consulting company to CPG brands and food-service businesses.
First and foremost, Andrew started his career as an Italian-trained chef, then worked his way up the ranks at Whole Foods for 14 years, leaning into his experience in CPG as a consultant.
In addition, he now helps brands avoid the common operations mistakes he sees them making.
Importantly, he talks about powerful trends he sees in the marketplace and how brands are capitalizing on them.
Last but not the least, Andrew also shares some valuable tips on how to reduce costs when launching a new CPG product or food service business.
Listen on Apple Podcasts here or Spotify here.
Ken: Welcome to the Physical Product Movement, a podcast by Fiddle, we share stories of the world’s most ambitious and exciting physical product brands to help you capitalize on the monumental change in how, why and where consumers buy. I’m your host, Ken Ojuka.
In this episode, I speak with Andrew Runette, Founder of Natural Food Solutions. An Operations and Strategy Consulting Company to CPG brands and food-service businesses. Andrew started his career as an Italian-trained chef, then worked his way up the ranks at Whole Foods for 14 years, leaning into his experience in CPG as a consultant.
He now helps brands avoid the common operations mistakes he sees them making. He talks about powerful trends he sees in the marketplace and how brands are capitalizing on them. Andrew also shares some valuable tips on how to reduce costs when launching a new CPG product or food service business. Lots of great stuff in this episode. Enjoy.
Alright, Andrew. Hey, thanks for jumping on. Welcome to the podcast. How are you doing?
Andrew: Good. Good. Thank you for having me.
Ken: Yeah. Hey, so from the top, we’d just like to kick it off with, um, with a quote, but that’s impactful to you or something that you, you like to live by. Do you have one in mind?
Andrew: Yeah, it’s from, uh, my favorite chef, um, Anthony Bordain.
Um, it’s a simple one. It’s your body is not a temple. It’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride. I think life is all about just enjoying the ride.
Ken: Perfect. Yeah. I love that. So for people who don’t know you or your company, do you mind just telling us a little bit about your background?
Andrew: Sure. I trained under an Italian chef, uh, in Pittsburgh where I’m from back in the end of high school and college, um, found a whole foods market in 2003.
Uh, worked my way up the corporate ladder, if you will. Um, and moved out to the west coast and sued thousands. Uh, I was with Whole Foods for almost 14 years and then left, uh, in 2016 to go to a few failed startups, um, and then started my consulting company at the same time. And I’ve been consulting in the food space for.
Um, a little over about five years now. So, um, I hope CPG brands, uh, get into food service, um, and vice versa. So, um, health, food, service brands as well, kind of pivot in the CPG. Um, but I’m more on the operations side and I’m really good at financial score startups in the CPG space.
Ken: Awesome and you’re in LA now right?
Andrew: Yup. In LA a little south and Formosa beach yeah.
Ken: Okay, very nice. Um, well I, I’m just curious, uh, Italian trained chef. Tell us a little bit more about that experience.
Andrew: Sure. Uh, I worked in a little tiny market, uh, on Reynold street and Pittsburgh, and it was purchased, uh, while I was working there. Um, uh, gosh, in like 1998, I believe by an Italian chef.
And he, you know, we kind of found a liking to each other, uh, and he just started training me. Um, and I trained under him for about three years. And then I became sous chef in one of his restaurants for about a year. And then I realized I didn’t love the nightlife of the restaurant world. Um, so that’s when I decided to make the move to Whole Foods Market.
But, um, yeah, it was a, it was a cool kind of out of the blue experience and, you know, um, didn’t really know what I was going to do with my career at that point in high school. But, um, he really showed me a lot, made me fall in love.
Ken: Cool. And in your bio, you actually talk about, you know, um, uh, being interested in food from a pretty early age, from about 12 years old.
Um, how did that passion start? And, and, uh, I guess how, how did it evolve over there?
Andrew: I don’t know exactly how it started. I’ve been asked that before I started washing dishes at that market and I was like 12 years old. So I think just being around food and just being interested, I just remember always like super my fingers through, you know, whatever mixing bowl it was and tasting the flavors.
And I was like, ah, man, this is. You know, I’m just interested in it. And then, I just asked to start prepping vegetables and, you know, cutting potatoes and onions and celery and carrots, whatnot, um, for whatever the market was making for that week. And I think that’s kind of where it started and where it came from.
Just kind of being around food. My mom wasn’t like the biggest shack or anything like that. So she cooks, but, um, yeah. Yeah. I think that’s where it started.
Ken: Sure. Sure. And, um, tell us a little bit about the transition over to whole foods. You know, what, what took you there? And then, you know, you stayed there obviously 14 years.
What, what was your role there?
Andrew: Oh, I had many, um, the transition was nice because I was getting paid more, um, and only working 40 hours a week instead of like 60 or 70. So that was really nice. Um, but I saw, you know, I saw, and I was, I mean, I’m 21, 22 years old, like having a nice work life balance was, was cool.
Um, college wasn’t my thing. So, um, you know, I, I. It was, it was, it was interesting. And then I realized I can move up in the company. I mean, I knew, I knew how to move out of Pittsburgh, which I wanted to do anyway. Um, but it was, it was a good kind of stepping stone to get out of Pittsburgh and, you know, have a job.
And my cousin actually had moved . Basically, my brother had moved to, uh, California about a year before me. I went out and visited him, landed an interview while I was visiting him and then got a position. Um, probably within like a month or two, I was part of the opening team of the Valencia store, which is like an hour north of Los Angeles.
And I thought I was close to the beach, but that’s back in like MapQuest days. So you couldn’t, you couldn’t really see where you’re moving. Um, but held a lot of roles. I opened about 35 or more stores, uh, with whole foods and that’s kind of how I. Worked my way up. I started opening stores just as a cook and then, you know, just as I can train her on the, on the sandwich station.
Um, and then folks, you know, some of my work ethic and, you know, knowledge and such. Um, and then I moved all the way up to what they call it, like an associate director position of food service, um, which associated prepared foods, coordinators. Here’s the title. Um, and that’s, you know, kind of one of the supporting roles for overseeing all of the prepared foods department.
Um, and that was about eight years long. I did that. Um, yeah.
Ken: Nice. Uh, and then, uh, you know, you moved on to a couple of startups. Um, just want to get an idea of, of, you know, maybe a couple of lessons that you learned from, from these startups. You mentioned that a couple of them failed, you know, some of them, sometimes those are the best learning experiences.
What, what did you learn? What did you observe?
Andrew: 800% are. Um, it is what I learned in what I’ve just learned. Just throughout my career and working with different startups, just different companies, especially consulting in the last few years is just a team. The team is the most important thing. It really is building a solid team, um, and finding the right people like don’t just hire to hire, um, you know, don’t just hire based on people’s resume.
You know, um, and just one of the startups that failed was based out of Miami. And it was, it was basically just a clash of personalities. This is what really ended up happening and the funding person pulled the plug just because people weren’t getting along. Um, and not seeing eye to eye on a lot of things.
That’s, that’s probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned is just building a really solid team foundation. Um, you know, it doesn’t, the product is important of course, but the team is what makes that product.
Ken: Yeah, understood. And, you know, I’m sure most people don’t set out to build a terrible team, you know, or a bad team, you know, what are, what are, what are some things to look out for?
I mean, I think you mentioned, you know, just getting along, you know, being able to, to, you know, work effectively together, you know, are there, are there any other things that you see in good teams or high functioning teams?
Andrew: Uh, it’s just, it’s kind of just personality, um, you know, and just hiring for personality that fits the team’s personality.
So I think it’s taking a step back if you’re the founders and looking at, you know, what will compliment the founders, right. And what will compliment everybody else on the team? I mean, the skillset of course is important. Um, You know, it’s it’s, I think that’s just the, just finding that, that mashing, you know, um, and it’s not always going to be easy.
I mean, it’s going to take some work and some team building. Um, but I think that’s the key I really do. Um, Spencer, John Mackey had always talked about the CEO of Whole Foods. It’s like, you know, teamwork and hiring the right people, you know, to fit into a situation, you know?
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, let’s, let’s jump to, you know, what you’re doing now with natural food solutions.
Can you tell us a little bit about, um, you know, your services, what you provide and, um, and maybe a couple of examples of what you could do for a company?
Andrew: Sure. Um, yeah, so I’ve had the company for about four years. Um, you know, it’s been, it’s been a rollercoaster ride of just kind of finding my niche in the industry.
Um, but I I’ve, I’ve found it in the sense of, I just love helping startups and I love guiding them. Um, so that’s, that’s really what I do. And it’s, you know, I’m, I’m a bit of a Jack of all trades, but I really focus on. Operations and financials and those two, how they go hand in hand. Um, and, um, I’m really good at both of them.
And I’ve built out kind of a CPG startup, financial temper. Um, that can be altered or just kind of a plug and play, uh, type of template. Um, and then, you know, I’ve, I’m just good at operations and just really figuring out what the best path is operationally, you know, whether it’s finding a co-packer or, you know, introducing some of the other right packaging company or, you know, just really putting the pieces together.
It was really tough in the, in the first, you know, year or two of, uh, of a CPG.
Ken: Yeah. Let’s, let’s talk a little bit about, you know, the financials, um, you know, what, what are some of the mistakes that you see startup companies making as they enter a CPG?
Andrew: I think the biggest mistake people make is just giving away margin dollars too early.
Um, and. Just going with something because they see the, uh, you know, the big shiny sign on the front door type of thing, you know? So they get asked to go into whole foods or something like that, or, you know, sprouts or, you know, some of these larger natural retailers. You know, they just give away too many margin dollars and don’t know exactly what that negotiation looks like, because it is a negotiation.
It’s not like, you know, here’s my cost of the cost of my cost of goods. And here’s what I’m going to give to you. You know, you really got to dial that in. And I think the second part is, is not knowing how to negotiate when you get into the co-packer side of things and the co-manufacturers, um, and giving away.
You know, not giving away dollars, but more or less, um, how do I put it? You know, it just, just not negotiating with the co-manufacturer, you know, um, and looking at kind of what the, what the cost of goods looks like and just kind of, okay, this is what you’re giving me, then, you know, that’s what I’m going with, but you know, there’s a negotiation there too.
Ken: Sure. And would you say that’s true for even, you know, new brands that are. That are pretty small. Maybe don’t feel like they have a lot of leverage in that negotiation. Um, you know, I talked to a lot of brands who are just, just happy that somebody will make their product, you know, they’re so relieved to find that co-packer, that they, um, you know, pretty much settled as you’re explaining, you know, w what points of leverage or what things do you think that they should make sure to negotiate?
Andrew: I mean, it really varies from brand to brand and like what you’re making, because a lot of it’s seasonality sometimes, you know, like I’ve got a client now where we’re, um, you know, we’re going to pitch whole foods probably next week. I’m hoping. Um, but you know, the last few months has been working with a co-manufacturer and really finding the right one.
Um, I think that’s key that people miss finding the right manufacturer and not just going with the one that you find first, you know, um, just having a little bit of patience and I understand sometimes, you know, you, you just have to move. Um, but I think that’s pretty key and finding the right, you know, the right person to work with.
I mean, it goes back to what I was saying about hiring, you know, um, just finding that right.
Ken: Sure. Sure. And I think that makes sense. What you remind me of is, is, um, a quote that I heard from the guy named Dan Kennedy. He’s like a marketing guy. Um, and he talks about how the worst number in business is one, you know, anytime you just have one of something you’re vulnerable, you know, and, and I definitely see that with, with co-packer, you know, like you’re saying, somebody finds a co-packer and they feel just, okay, this is my guy, and I have to make it work.
Whereas, you know, if you look at all your options and look around and really try to find multiple. Co-packers then, you know, whether you’re getting a good deal or, um, you know, you’ve got a plan B in case, you know, plan a fall through.
Andrew: Yeah it’s just like building a house. You know, if you’re getting your paint done on the outside of your house, right.
You know, you want to get a couple quotes, you know, you don’t want to just go with the first painting, you know, and look at the reviews and talk to them. You know, I mean, it’s, it’s just, um, but I see it happen more often than not, unfortunately, where, you know, people were just in a bind and brands are just in a bind and they have to, they kind of have to jump because they’re on a deadline too.
Ken: Sure. Yeah. So what are your thoughts about, um, you know, some of these early brands, um, you know, trying to see if they could make this product themselves, you know, even just manufacturing or doing the initial batches in house, if they can, um, you know, what are your thoughts around that strategy?
Andrew: I think that’s the best way to start you know, it’s interesting with the change in like the direct to consumer area of things and, you know, obviously needing a longer shelf life on certain things, but. You know, if you’re making something, I think that’s the best place to start, you know, especially now with the, the shared kitchens and kind of the ghost kitchens that are out there that are pretty affordable.
Um, you know, and even like shared commercial kitchens that like food trucks, you know, those brands can get into there and use those kitchens, you know, mess around with things and really figure out your plate, you know, your flavor profiles, um, for exactly what you’re. You’re trying to do, you know, so I think that’s a good place to start for sure is, you know, and you just have a little bit more control.
Ken: Yeah, understood, I mean, you could, you could start with smaller batches, you know? Sure. Your margins may not be dialed in, but in the very beginning, you know, you’re, you’re not as concerned about that. Um, you just need to make sure you get the product right. And so being able to iterate quickly is a huge, huge advantage.
Um, then you mentioned flavor profiles, but you know, even just, you know, iterating on stuff like packaging, um, and, and. You know, flavors of course, but, um, even just products, you know, like how do I, what do I name this product? How do I test that this name is resonating? You know, um, those types of things, you, you want that control to be able to iterate quickly.
Andrew: Yep, exactly
Ken: Yeah. So you mentioned ghost kitchens. I mean, for, for people who aren’t familiar with that term, you know, I know what you’re talking about, but maybe you could explain a little bit about that trend in the industry and, and how, uh, you know, a new CPG brand would be able to get into one of those are fine one.
Andrew: Sure. Um, there’s a place here. I’m going to plug them. Um, but, uh, in LA I think they’ve opened up like 10 now. And I think they have about 15 or 20 kitchens of different sizes in each one. It’s called cloud kitchens. But anyway, the point being is you can rent them for pretty cheap. Um, and you can even test things on.
You know, a door dash service or, you know, they’re completely connected both digitally. Um, you know, but also like just knowing people on that side of things. So you can rent their kitchen just to test things, but you can also rent their kitchens to test even the delivery side of things, side of things.
So, um, I don’t think they have, I think some of them have like just minimum, you know, maybe a month or two, but then that’s probably a perfect time to test. But yeah, that industry is just going crazy. Not many restaurants are using it. You know, I see a lot of food trucks pivoting out of it, you know, out of the food truck thing, just into that, especially with all the things that went down in the last year and a half, but yeah, exactly.
Ken: Yeah, it seems like COVID COVID was a huge accelerant for that industry. Um, just, you know, being able to, to get food delivered to your home. And so to your point, you know, I think a few years ago, the big strategy, if you were starting a restaurant was let’s launch a food truck, you know, that’s a cheap way to do this or cheaper way to do it.
We can test out, you know, our concept. Um, but I think cloud kitchens that are proving to be an even better way to do that. Yeah. Yeah,
Andrew: Celebrities are using it, which is crazy. And it’s really cool. It’s a really cool concept, but I see a lot of opportunity for brands in the CPG space doing that for sure.
Ken: Sure. Do you mind explaining that just a little bit?
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, just like I was saying, I mean, I think it’s just a great place to test. Um, it may just be aware of, you know, pivot, um, you know, as well and add another revenue. Right. You know, like say you’re, I don’t have a good example, but you know, maybe even if you’re making a good sauce, right.
Um, any type of sauce, you know, say like an Indian flavored sauce that you’re already in some grocery stores, but you know, why not use that sauce to deliver it, you know, to people’s houses to be a cloud. You know, um, yeah. I just think it’s a really cool vessel for lots of different opportunities. And I don’t, I don’t think a lot of people have done it that way yet, or looked at it that way, you know? Yeah.
Ken: Yeah. I mean that, that concept, you know, it still kind of blows my mind, right. That you can have a restaurant that’s completely virtual, right? You don’t have a, you know, you don’t actually have a storefront or, um, you know, a dine in, um, part of, part of the restaurant. It just exists. On, you know, something like Uber eats or door dash, you know, you name it, you know, let’s say, let’s go with that Indian food restaurant, you name it, you know, whatever you want and you test out this concept and if it hits you expand on it, if it doesn’t, you know, you can quickly pivot into Korean food or, you know, like some, some other niche food. Um, I think, I think it’s fascinating.
Andrew: Me too. I’ve looked into it in depth, even for myself, you know? You know, I’ve always been interested in opening, something like that, you know, but the capital behind it is this huge, you know, but this, this makes it a lot more accessible, you know?
Ken: And so the, the advantage to, to a CPG company, you know, that’s, that’s brand new out of the gates.
You know, let’s say that you’ve got a concept for like a protein bar. Um, so you could rent one of these spaces and instead of, you know, delivering food via door dash or something like that, um, you would actually just use their commercial kitchens to come up with your first prototypes. Um, even your first initial runs, uh, of this protein of the.
Andrew: Yup, exactly the things that are cooler space and storage and all that stuff, you know? Um, yeah, I’m pretty sure they have the whole nine to, to be able to do all the things you need to do to, to become a brand.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, and just to completely land the plane, you know, this helps, it helps you to not have to invest in real estate, not have to invest in expensive equipment, you know, freezers, fridges, you know, all the things that you would need in order to actually produce this stuff.
Andrew: Yeah, exactly. Like you set up your protein bar and you’re, you know, say you want to do it. Um, You know, you’re going to do it like, uh, like direct to consumer, right? You could produce those protein bars in one of these kitchens, you know, probably freeze them if that’s the way you’re going or even refrigerate them and send them out that way.
Right. You know, you don’t have to like have your own manufacturing, you know,
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. I think, I think that’s a, that’s a huge, huge advantage that, you know, wasn’t available even just a few years ago. Um, so let’s talk just a little bit about iteration on the, you know, on the go to market, you know, what, what are some of the mistakes that you see when people, you know, let’s say try to enter a grocery or, or, uh, re retail, you know, what are some of the mistakes? Um, people typically make.
Andrew: Um, just not having everything in line. Um, and I see meaning like not projecting their inventories correctly, you know, selling out, um, which is, which is okay to do in certain cases. If you know, you’re going to sell out and you’re kind of want to draw people in that way, but that’s more on the direct to consumer side of things.
Um, but you know, just not planning inventory. Um, I see happen a lot and I’ve seen happen a lot over the years. Um, and that’s, uh, you know, that’s just not knowing the industry and not knowing what you can ask the buyers at the grocery stores. I mean, they’re, they’re, they should be giving you a lot of these, a lot of this information and projecting inventory for you, but, um, you know, projecting sales with you as well.
Um, but sometimes they don’t, or the brands don’t ask the right questions, you know? Um, so I think it’s just, you know, talking to someone like myself or talking to other brands, um, on their journey, um, you know, is, is a huge kind of way to be ready for getting into a retailer. You know, if you’re getting into any kind of regional, you know.
Natural grocery store. Um, most of them should be able to give you that information, but, you know, I think that’s the biggest mistake I see is just the inventory side of things.
Ken: Sure. Yeah. And, and obviously we do too as well, you know, running software company that manages inventory, we see the inventory mistakes, you know, um, pretty much every day.
Andrew: No, I was going to ask you that I know you’re interviewing me. You probably see that. too, you know.
Ken: And especially, I think, I think people are okay at the finished good inventory, you know, and in a lot of ways that’s a lot easier to manage. I think where it really gets complicated though, is, is when you’ve got, uh, these raw materials, especially raw materials that go into several different products.
Um, and maybe you, you’ve got, uh, one supplier, you know, again, You know, previous comments about just depending on one, you know, I think you’re vulnerable. Um, but that’s, that’s what leads to the stock-outs it’s generally not that you just ran out of the finished product while you did, but the reason you did is because of, you know, one of the, you know, the 20 or 30 raw materials that go into this product and, you know, you just, weren’t keeping a close enough eye on that, you know, and that’s what caused the problem.
So anyway, that’s, that’s the kind of thing that we see almost on a daily basis. Um, so I want to double, double tap, um, you know, double down a little bit, maybe drill in on the, uh, example of, of launching a protein bar company. You know, so let’s say that you’re consulting with, with, with somebody who is doing that.
You know, they’re looking at, uh, you know, possibly DTC, um, or they’re, you know, they’re trying to get into grocery store and they’re just trying to think of like, what’s the best, best path forward, you know, to, to start to actually get some sales. Um, what, what would be your advice to somebody in, in, in those shoes?
Andrew: Um, having a plan, um, and you know, just what I mean by that is, you know, having a plan. Okay. Here’s my target customer. Here’s where they shop. Um, you know, what does that grocery store look like? What do I need, you know, for that grocery store to get into that grocery store, number one, but what is their shopper look like?
What are their busiest stores? Um, I mean, there’s, I feel like a million questions that I have listed out that I, you know, I share with brands. But yeah, just, just having, you know, having a plan. I think that’s the thing people miss on sometimes is they’re just kind of flying by the seat of their pants, you know, and then, you know, but having a list of questions to, you know, going back and asking the buyers, um, and knowing, you know, so you’re approaching bars.
So when one or the reset. For these different category reviews, right. For each grocery that you’re trying to get into, you know, when are their resets? I mean, like, say, take, for example, I don’t know the protein bar off the top of my head, but a good example is the juice company I’m working with right now is we have to have the pitch stack over to the buyer, uh, today.
Um, and then I’m assuming we’ll have a pitch. Within the next two weeks, but we won’t be potentially if it’s approved, we wouldn’t be into any whole foods market until end of October. Right. So, you know, just understanding the, the drawn out, um, kind of category reviews and granted whole foods is a much bigger company and some of the re regional groceries.
You know, just really knowing all of these ins and outs of getting into a grocery store. So, you know, just sitting down and planning on how you’re going to figure all these things out.
Ken: Sure. Um, and you know, you mentioned talking to the buyer, I mean, how would somebody even get in touch with, with a buyer or go about finding buyers for these different stores?
What’s the best way to do that? What’s some, um, one of those lines.
Andrew: So the advice I give is it’s tough to find who the buyers are. Um, You know, I, I’ve always been a big proponent of creating relationships, you know, and as a brand and continuing those relationships. So I say, go into your local grocery store, talk to whoever manages the departments that you’re trying to get into.
Talk to them, talk to the local store, talk to the store manager, you know, take some product, you know, sell your products on the local level. Um, is hands down the best way to go. Um, if you don’t want to do that, which I think you should, but you know, um, LinkedIn, I mean, it’s probably one of the best ways to find out who buyers are and then talking to other brands.
I mean, even if you’re a competitor, you know, talk to talk to your competitors, you know, I mean, I talk to occasionally talk to me. You know, competitors in the consulting world. Cause there’s numerous of me, you know? So, um, just creating, you know, many relationships, um, in that, in that realm so.
Ken: Understood. Yeah. Yeah. That’s some good advice. Um, let’s um, let’s switch gears just a little bit. Um, you know, I kind of want to talk about trends and maybe, uh, uh, You know, the effects of, of COVID and kind of what you’re seeing in, uh, in the brand, uh, CPG space. You know, we, we did talk about, about one, you know, with these ghost kitchens and that how, you know, those have expanded, and those are great opportunities for CPG brands.
Um, you know, what, what other trends have you seen just in general? Um, you know, with, with CPG brands, maybe how they should go to markets and things they need to take into consideration that maybe they didn’t before. Um, just the effects of COVID on the industry in general. Do you have sure.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, GT D direct to consumer, I think is, is a must in this day and age and CPG.
You know, I think it’s, it’s, it’s a way for you to not only be able to talk directly to your customer because you really can’t do that necessarily being in a grocery store. Um, you know, but I, I think direct to consumer is just a must for really any brand, but specifically CPG. Um, you know, I know it might be tougher on the fresh side of things and the, you know, the frozen side of things can get a little more challenging.
You know, if you’re, if you’re a shelf, stable item, you know, direct to consumers, it’s huge. Um, you know, and it goes along the lines of, you know, with COVID and how, you know, these brands, you know, these grocery stores saw their online sales skyrocket, you know? Um, that’s just, I think it’s probably leveling out, you know, you’re starting to see that trend a bit, um, especially as things start to reopen, but, um, Yeah, I think just the digital, the digital age isn’t going anywhere.
Um, so I think that’s a, that’s a must for brands. Um, and if you’re not, you know, if you can follow the plant-based trend and like the ferment fermentation trend is going to be huge, I don’t see that going anywhere. I mean, I’m sure you’ve seen the news about Tyson and the CEO, you know He’s
Ken: Oh, you mean like the impossible burger and things like that?
Andrew: Yeah, exactly. I mean, and plant-based in general, I mean, you know, you’ve got burger Kings in Europe that are opening up just plant-based. Um, you know, you, you’re just seeing plant-based, fast-food pop up all over the place. So if you’re a brand and you can.
Create another product. That’s plant-based I mean, ride that wave, you know, I don’t see that going away at all. I only see it growing, you know?
Ken: And then can you mention just a little bit about fermentation, you know, what you meant by that trend and you know, kind of the opportunities. Sure.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, kombucha is, um, you know, taken off in the last six years. I’d say, um, We’re starting to see, uh, different proteins coming out of fermentation, um, which is really interesting and cool.
Um, you know, like there’s a company, I think they’re based out of Canada called Perfect Day. I mean, they’re making dairy out of fermentation processes, you know, so. Um, which is really cool. Um, you know, just, I mean, even like kimchi, you know, the different types of kimchi and pickling and things like that, all that is still super trendy, you know, so.
Ken: Okay. So I think, uh, I think that’s a good overview of some of the, some of the trends. Were there any other trends maybe that you wanted to mention?
Andrew: Uh, I mean, I think food service I’ll go back to that. You know, I think food service is going to come back really strong. So if you’re, if you’re a brand that can pivot to food service, um, you know, like you can go back to the Indian thing, um, you know, say you’re a CPG brand with an Indian flavor, jarred sauce, figure out how you can, you know, make a bulk pack of that and get it into food service places, you know, or just sell your product.
Restaurants to use, you know, or food trucks or I dunno, there’s so many different revenue streams that you can go after with food service. Um, it’s much more wide open than, than getting into a grocery store, you know, so.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Well, we’re about at time. Um, so I wanted to just shift over to the quick fire round.
I’ve got four questions for you and, uh, just want to, I want to get the first thing that comes to mind. Um, what is the one tool or resource that you find extremely valuable in your job today?
Andrew: Sunsama, it’s like a kind of to-do list app that I absolutely love. I have been using it for about three months now. Um, it really organizes my day, puts a nice focus onto my day, connects to my calendar, connects to my Trello boards. Um, yeah, sunsama
Ken: Sunsama. Okay. I’ll have to check it out. What’s a book? What’s a book that you can recommend to the audience?
Andrew: Find your why by Simon, Sineck sitting right in front of me. I’m about halfway through.
Ken: I’ve actually got it on audible, but I haven’t listened to it yet.
Andrew: And it’s awesome. I think it’s a journey that everybody should go down is finding your, why.
Ken: What’s one piece of advice that you would give to your 21 year old self?
Andrew: Um, man, invest more by real estate.
Ken: Especially at these prices right now.
Andrew: Yeah, exactly.
Ken: Yeah. Well, and I’m not sure it’s nuts in California as well.
Andrew: Yeah. The median prices are ridiculous now, like 200 grand in two years or something like that.
Ken: It’s like, I can’t remember the movie. Um, but there’s some movie where somebody goes back in time and he says, plastics, you know, invest in plastics or something.
Maybe today today’s might be, if you went back in time, let’s say you went back 10 years, say buy Bitcoin, you know.
Andrew: Seriously, you know, yep exactly
Ken: Who is one person in your field of work that you’d love to sit down and take lunch?
Andrew: I’m going to go. I’d love to sit down and talk with them.
You know, she’s, uh, she seems like a really cool person. We’ve talked briefly, but, um, you know, I just enjoy what she’s doing, what she’s putting together and how she’s helping grants. She’s doing a tremendous job.
Ken: Nice. All right. As we wrap up here, um, just want to, um, give you an opportunity to just tell us a little bit about your services and who, you know, who should contact you.
You know, who’s, who’s sort of your ideal client.
Andrew: Sure. Um, yeah. Again, my company is natural food solutions. I’m really good at helping brands pivot from CPG and the food service. I talk a lot about that and I have kind of throughout this interview. That’s one thing I’m really good at helping brands pivot, just really strategy on finding different revenues.
Um, and then on the revenue side, I’m really good at just financially modeling. You know, we’ve got a template that I have for brands that is a full-blown planning template for TNL. You’ve got your costs and calculators. You’ve got your promotional calculators. You’ve got your sales planning calculator by retailer and kind of by revenue stream.
So, um, that’s, that’s been. Pretty helpful to a bunch of the brands that I’ve worked with that use it, um, you know, and my current clients. So yeah, those are probably my two best services that I offer.
Ken: And yeah. And, um, just, you know, I’d plug, you know, just a wide, um, you know, breadth of knowledge about the industry and experience in the industry, you know? So you don’t feel like you’re, you’re kind of just feeling around in the dark, you know, as to how it goes forward.
Andrew: Yeah, exactly. I love helping brands.
Ken: What’s um, what’s the best way to, uh, get in touch with you. If somebody wanted to reach out to?
Andrew: Um, my website, uh, it’s natural dash food solutions.com and then my, you know, Instagram, uh, and then LinkedIn, LinkedIn is probably the best way to find me. Andrew Runnette. You know, I’m somewhat active there, so.
Ken: Awesome, Andrew. Hey, I appreciate it. Um, I think this has been a good interview. Um, I’d actually like to do part two here. Um, you know, um, you know, maybe in six, eight months as people will come out of COVID and, and talk a little bit more about some of the trends and some of the opportunities. I think that, that, uh, that would be really helpful to listeners.
Andrew: Yeah, same Ken, this has been awesome. Thank you very much. I’d love to do that. Absolutely.
Ken: All right, Andrew. Hey, thanks a lot. We’ll talk later.
Andrew: All right. Thank you. Bye-bye
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