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Building the Food and Beverage Company of the Future With Greg Steltenpohl of Califia Farms

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Meet the Food Visionary Who Is Now Working to Build a Plant-Based Food System

In this episode, I speak with Greg Steltenpohl, co-founder and CEO of Califia Farms.

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About Greg Steltenpohl

As co-founder and CEO of Califia Farms, Greg’s mission is to innovate delicious plant-powered foods for mindful nourishment. He has led the company’s rapid growth as a leader of premium, natural beverages that make it easy for consumers to go “plant-powered” and live dairy-free, without compromise, from Almondmilks to Aguas Frescas to Cold Brew Coffee drinks. 

As the founder and former CEO of Odwalla Inc., the leading U.S. supplier of fresh juice and nourishing beverages, Greg led the company through its transformation from a small start-up to a publicly held corporation with an average growth rate exceeding 50 percent per year. In building the Odwalla brand, Greg was a pioneer in employing ideals of environmental sustainability, employee empowerment, creative corporate culture, and community-based marketing. After Greg’s departure in 2000, Odwalla was sold to Coca-Cola and remains one of the fastest growing brands in the Coke system.

Prior to Califia, Greg was the co-founder and CEO of Adina for Life Inc., a venture-backed startup focused on building a fair trade brand with a good for you, good for the planet mission in the natural beverage category. Together with Visa Founder Dee Hock, Greg was also co-founder and Chairman of the Interra Project. Interra supported localized markets for sustainable products by aggregating the buying power of the like-minded consumers through loyalty-based payment card networks.

Why You Should Listen

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.

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, 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.

In this conversation with Greg, I get his visionary insight into the plant-based food world. We dive deep into his 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.

Greg also shares 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.

People/Companies/Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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