It seems like there is a new plant-based food company popping up every other day now. A testament to the growing popularity of choosing more plant-based options over meat and dairy, the plant-based food sector is estimated to be valued at $5 billion – and continues to grow. It may be common place now to walk into your local grocery store and see an amalgam of bottled fresh-pressed juices and a variety of dairy-free milks – in every flavor imaginable, but if you look back two or three decades, this notion was virtually unheard of.
Greg Steltenpohl, co-founder of Odwalla and Califia Farms, is one of the original plant-based visionaries who believed that bringing high-quality, sustainable products with wholesome ingredients to customers was an imperative. And bring such products to the masses, he did.
There are few people like Greg who can so fully understand modern culture and note the trends for not only what kind of food people want – but the food that they, and the planet so sorely need. Perhaps it’s just this knack that has enabled Greg to grow two extremely successful businesses without losing sight of the heart and values behind the mission of making, simply, better food. Decades into his career, Greg still puts the importance of the end consumer and how products make them feel ahead of unmitigated financial growth, and going even a step further, he cares about the people who helped make the product along the supply chain and how their practices impact the planet.
Some might call this dedication to doing as much good as possible, “idealism” but considering how closely tied our food system is to our well-being, and the well-being of the environment, Greg’s tenets for business very well may be ahead of their time. After all, if businesses want to be truly successful, long-term sustainability and consumer trust are major players in that – and you can’t very well be contributing to diet-related disease and environmental collapse and expect to keep cashing in forever.
In a recent episode of #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias, Nil sat down with Greg to get more of his visionary insight into the plant-based food world. In their conversation, they dive deep into Greg’s thoughts on why we need to shift to a primarily plant-based food system, the great opportunities companies have to do so – and what it means to compete in this changing marketplace. To Greg, it seems that good business and good motives are one in the same and he openly shares tips and advice that he thinks new companies – or all companies for that matter – should follow to guarantee lasting success.
Some of Greg’s ideas for how businesses should be run may be ahead of their time, but he has been on the pulse of burgeoning trends for the bulk of his career. During the interview, Greg talks about his predictions for how technology will change to make consumers more engaged with their food. From the advancement of “functional foods,” that are developed to fit how a customer wants to feel after eating them to tracking systems that can show people exactly where every single ingredient in their food came from, down to who grew it and how Greg’s ideas for the future are both exciting and incredibly inspiring.
It seems that Greg has always had a flair for picking up on trends that would come to shape the future of the food space, so you’ll have to listen in to the entire interview to see what’s coming next.
You can listen to the full episode on the following platforms: iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher.
If you like this episode, be sure to subscribe to the #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias podcast for new episodes with food industry leaders, health, and sustainability experts, as well as entrepreneurs and creative minds who are redefining the future of food.