75 episodes

Edible-Alpha® is your source for actionable insights into making money in food. Hosted by Tera Johnson, we talk to a wide range of stakeholders about what it really takes to grow a successful food business. Learn more at www.edible-alpha.org

Edible-Alpha® Podcast Edible-Alpha® - Tera Johnson

    • Business
    • 4.6, 14 Ratings

Edible-Alpha® is your source for actionable insights into making money in food. Hosted by Tera Johnson, we talk to a wide range of stakeholders about what it really takes to grow a successful food business. Learn more at www.edible-alpha.org

    Scout Canning Makes Shelf-Stable Seafood Sustainable

    Scout Canning Makes Shelf-Stable Seafood Sustainable

    Adam Bent of Scout Canning talked with Tera about shaking up the stale canned seafood category and taking on the problematic industry by operating sustainably.

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Transforming ‘Waste’ into Wow-Worthy Beverages

    Transforming ‘Waste’ into Wow-Worthy Beverages

    Tera chats with Paul Evers of Riff Cold Brewed Coffee about the importance of branding and connecting with consumers, turning otherwise-wasted ingredients into value-add products and reducing the coffee industry’s carbon footprint.

    • 47 min
    Reshaping the Supply Chain for Max Efficiency

    Reshaping the Supply Chain for Max Efficiency

    Brad Rostowfske, of Raise the BAR Innovation and FaB Wisconsin, sits in with Tera for an in-depth discussion on the food and beverage supply chain before COVID-19, currently and going forward. They discuss the many preexisting pain points and inefficiencies that the pandemic has now exacerbated and map out a more dynamic, interconnected, transparent system for the future.

    • 1 hr
    How Self-Manufacturing Helps Food Brands Be Nimble

    How Self-Manufacturing Helps Food Brands Be Nimble

    In Edible-Alpha® podcast #68, Tera talks with Kate Flynn, cofounder and CEO of Sun & Swell Foods, a Certified B Corporation based in Santa Barbara, California that offers organic whole food grab-and-go snacks and pantry staples. They discuss the challenges and benefits of being a mission-based brand, self-manufacturing and shifting strategies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Kate and her husband, Bryan, started Sun & Swell in 2017 to fill an unmet need for simple, nutritious grab-and-go snacks made with organic real-food ingredients. Just two years earlier, Kate had overhauled her diet, started eating clean and began feeling better than ever because of it. Frustrated by the lack of suitable snack foods on the market, she and Bryan took to creating their own and sharing them with friends, eventually landing wholesale accounts. Though Kate was initially dead set against continuing to self-manufacture, they struggled to find a fitting co-packer for their precise specs and small volume, so they continued handcrafting their products in rented commercial kitchen spaces.

    Though Kate felt great about providing consumers with healthy snacks, she was never quite comfortable with Sun & Swell’s contribution to the single-use plastics problem. A few years into the business, she learned that compostable packaging technology was available but little used, so the brand took a leap and transitioned to the eco-friendlier solution.

    They discovered that some of the challenges presented by compostable packaging made it hard to move product through traditional food distribution channels, but rather than abandon it altogether, they opted to limit sales to select channels of distribution, such as e-commerce and corporate offices. Even though this choice has complicated operations, Kate firmly believes that compostable packaging’s ecological advantages make it worth the hassle—and she acknowledges that self-manufacturing has enabled Sun & Swell, which now has its own facility, to go this route.

    Self-manufacturing has also proved fortuitous as the coronavirus pandemic has played out. When half of Sun & Swell’s wholesale business froze in March, the company was able to pivot more easily. Along with ramping up their existing e-commerce business, they revamped their product portfolio to deliver all of their snacks in pantry-size bags. They also begin selling their ingredients in bulk as a new product line of ‘pantry staples’. Thrilled with the success of the bulk business and the fact that it allows them to carry out their mission in a bigger way, Sun & Swell is now adding ingredients beyond those used in their snacks, sourcing directly from family farms.

    Although Kate wasn’t keen on continuing to self-manufacture in the beginning, she is grateful for the opportunities it affords Sun & Swell, especially in surviving the pandemic and setting themselves up to thrive in the future. Because as she and Tera discussed, nobody knows what the world will look like once the virus threat lessens or how this experience will change consumer shopping patterns long-term.

    • 51 min
    Building a Beverage Brand, from Foraging to Financing

    Building a Beverage Brand, from Foraging to Financing

    In Edible-Alpha® podcast #67, Tera chats with Rachael Young, founder and CEO of YAYAYA, an Austin, Texas-based beverage startup centered around the caffeinated plant yaupon. They discuss the ups and downs of bringing such a unique product to market and scaling a beverage business, including the challenges of raising capital.

    An ethnobotanist and avid forager, Rachael discovered and fell in love with yaupon a few years ago. Native to a handful of southern states, the plant contains caffeine and is rich in the feel-good phytochemical theobromine. Native Americans used yaupon as a tea-like beverage, calling it “the drink of social wellness.” But once Europeans settled in the U.S., it all but vanished from consumer consciousness—expect among cattle ranchers and farmers in the South, who view the plant as a prolific, hard-to-eradicate nuisance.

    After researching brewing methods and tinkering in her kitchen, Rachael developed a delicious beverage that provides a “gentle uplift” as opposed to the jolt delivered by energy drinks. Confident that others too would love yaupon once they learned about and tried it, she launched Texana Tea at Central Market in May 2018—still foraging, brewing and bottling by hand. Aiming to expand beyond Texas, Rachael rebranded the company as YAYAYA and relaunched in May 2019.

    Scaling up has had its challenges. Rachael’s first experience with a copacker didn’t go smoothly, and she’s been told several times that the education curve for her product is too high and she’d need $100 million to really make work. Whole Foods Market picked up YAYAYA for its Southwest region, but the March 2020 launch into the chain landed right in the thick of the COVID-19 outbreak. Rachel was also slated to pitch at Natural Products Expo West, but the pandemic derailed that opportunity.

    Despite these setbacks, YAYAYA has sold well at Whole Foods, Central Market, convenience stores and other accounts, and Rachael remains as passionate, driven and excited as ever about bringing yaupon to the masses. Given consumers’ shifting shopping patterns amidst the pandemic, she’s also working on building e-commerce.

    Next, Tera and Rachael tackled the topic of raising capital and how it can be tricky to find investors whose vision aligns with a founder’s. Entrepreneurs in tech-heavy markets such as Austin also often find that the local investment community isn’t well versed in making money in food. And while there has been progress in investing in female founders, women still have a harder time raising than male entrepreneurs. Tera stressed the importance of financial literacy and knowing all available financing options as key to overcoming these barriers.

    • 1 hr 12 min
    The Inside Scoop on Selling Online Today

    The Inside Scoop on Selling Online Today

    Matthew Starr, founder of Rally Energy, joins Tera to help guide food brands looking to launch online or shift a some sales to ecommerce. They go over where to start, what platforms to explore and how to attract loyal customers.

    • 1 hr 33 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
14 Ratings

14 Ratings

Charlene Andersen ,

Great for all types of food businesses

I've been an advice listener to Edible-Alpha for over 2 years and look forward to each podcast. The information Terra shares and her guests is insightful, valuable and I'm always learning. While based in Wisconsin and sometimes focused for that region you will always here information you can put in place or share with others.

JD Kath ,

Great listen!

Love the focus on the entrepreneurs who are changing the ecosystem!

Susan Weiner ,

Food Entrepreneur Must Listen

This is an excellent podcast for food entrepreneurs: part inspiration, part nuts and bolts, part strategy. I eagerly await every new episode because I know I'll learn something. Too often entrepreneurial podcasts are done by celebrity hosts that don't really know what questions to ask (think How I Built This) or former venture capitalists who say ridiculous things like "you have to have the very best people in every position" (think Masters of Scale). Tera's podcast is awesome because she's built an incredibly successful food business of her own, she's done a tremendous amount of food entrepreneur consulting, and she knows that most of us out here have a passion for our product, and we're just trying to figure it all out with the skillset and budget we have. She's trying to help us where the rubber meets the road to help us get traction in growing our business. Awesome!

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