The top podcast for food and beverage professionals, BevNET’s Taste Radio features interviews with the leaders and rising stars of our fast-evolving industry. The shows also include discussion on emerging trends, innovation and news of the week from our regular cadre of hosts from the BevNET and NOSH teams.
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Meet The ‘Cult Leader’ Who’s Forecasting The Future Of Food And Beverage
Andrea Hernandez is one of the most respected influencers in food and beverage, but it’s not a title she covets. She’d rather be called “cult leader.”
A former marketing executive with over a decade of experience in the food industry, Hernandez is the creator of Snaxshot, a multifaceted digital platform that has followed and forecasted some of the most notable trends in the food and beverage industry over the past two years.
Launched in 2020, Snaxshot’s popular blog and newsletter are known for their well-researched and witty content. Both are ad-free and community-funded, and while Hernandez often highlights brands aligned with her perspective that food and drink should be delicious and uncomplicated, Snaxshot’s independence provides her with a platform to be candid, and, occasionally, controversial.
Over the past two years, Snaxshot has become a valuable and influential resource for entrepreneurs, industry professionals and consumers. Its newsletter has over 35,000 subscribers (affectionately known as “snaxbois”) and Snaxshot and Hernadez combined have tens of thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram.
In this episode, Hernandez spoke about the emergence of Snaxshot and its content strategy, why she’s uncomfortable with her anointed role as a “trend oracle,” her bone to pick with functional foods and beverages, how she defines “a great product” and her take on several noteworthy trends.
We also sat down for a conversation with legendary musician, actor and entrepreneur Steven Van Zandt, who spoke about the launch of his new wellness brand Little Steven’s Underground Apothecary, which markets natural consumer products designed to alleviate everyday stresses and ailments.
1:00: Andrea Hernandez, Creator, Snaxshot – Hernandez met with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif in the Bowery neighborhood of Manhattan, where she compared the chilly weather of New York City with that of her home base in the Honduras, discussed her non-traditional job title, how Snaxshot acts as a check on the “commodification of wellness,” its readership and how they interact with the platform and why she prepares new content in the style of and old “sitcom variety show.” She also explained her role as an intermediary versus an industry predictor, how she defines an emerging concept and a great brand, why the market is the ultimate validator of trends, the power of great branding and great quality and her aversion to functional ingredients in sweet treats and desserts. Later, she shared her thoughts on better-for-you-sodas and candy, keto products, gut health, non-nutritive sweeteners and plant-based meat.
45:51: Steven Van Zandt, Founder, Little Steven’s Underground Apothecary – Our next guest for this episode is well-known to fans of Hall of Fame artists Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band as well as the iconic television show “The Sopranos.” Steven Van Zandt is an accomplished musician and actor who recently added entrepreneur to his resume with the launch of Little Steven’s Underground Apothecary, a brand focused on natural and holistic remedies to everyday stresses and ailments. The company markets boutique teas, coffees, lollipops, and other products infused with organic ingredients, including ginger, turmeric, kava, maca and Manuka honey. The brand donates 10% of all profits to TeachRock.org, a non-profit that uses the history of popular music to create engaging, multicultural lesson plans for history, social studies, language arts, music and science classrooms.
Brands in this episode: Liquid Death, Ghia, De Soi, Parch, Three Spirit, Oatly, Prime, Recess, Graza, Little Debbie, Oreo, Dunkaroos, Sundays, Rip Van, Bai, SmartSweets, Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, Actual Veggies, Nutella, Lay’s, Goldfish, Pop-Tarts, Little Steven’s Underground Apothecary
It’s Time To Make It Happen.
On the cusp of BevNET’s winter conferences in Santa Monica, the hosts spoke about how attendees can utilize the variety of resources available at the events and leverage connections with the BevNET team to engage with like-minded founders, industry executives and investors. They also hinted about a mystery speaker that no one will want to miss and riffed on some of their favorite new products sent to the office in recent weeks.
0:45: Prep Work. An A-List Mystery. And The @BevNETMike Award Goes To… – Ray got it right (finally!) to kick off the episode before Mike and Jacqui shared their favorite parts of the winter events. The hosts then spoke about early-stage founders that were doubted when they launched their businesses but have since created iconic brands. Ray offered his (potentially TMI) pre-event grooming habits and discussed his love for a limited-time “boozy” ice cream and spicy varieties of plant-based chicken nuggets, Mike munched on meat sticks, bars and tamales, John highlighted honey-sweetened shots and non-alcoholic wine and spirits brands and Jacqui snacked on nuts and sipped on a canned cocktail.
Brands in this episode: Athletic Brewing, Liquid Death, Jeni’s, Grillo’s, Uncle Nearest, Chomps, BelliWelli, Fillo’s, HoneyDrop, SomethingElse, Golden Rule Spirits, Jukes, Dr. Praeger's, Pocket Latte, Velvet Llama
$35K To $35 Million In 3.5 Years. This Is The Story Of Bachan’s.
There are fast-growing brands, and then there is Bachan’s.
Launched in 2019, Bachan’s markets a line of soy-based condiments that it describes as “Japanese Barbecue Sauce.” Admired for their versatility, the products are commonly used for cooking barbecue and also as a marinade, finishing sauce and in stir-fry. Founder and CEO Justin Gill developed the brand based off of a family heirloom recipe and named it as an homage to his grandmother.
Bachan’s fanatical consumer following has driven its ambitious retail strategy. Its four flavors – The Original, Hot and Spicy, Yuzu, and Gluten-Free – are available at over 11,000 stores across the U.S., including Costco, Whole Foods, Publix, Sprouts, Target, Kroger and The Fresh Market.
Nationwide distribution has sparked surging revenue. Just three-and-a-half years after its debut, Bachan’s expects to generate $35 million in sales by the end of 2022. Investors have taken note: in September the company announced a $13 million Series A funding round led by private equity firm Sonoma Brands Capital. The investment will be deployed to expand Bachan’s retail footprint and develop new products.
In this episode, Gill spoke about how the brand’s rapid start was fueled by six years of preparation and planning prior to its debut, the intentionality of the brand’s label and package design, why he credits a focus on high quality ingredients as key to consumer loyalty, his thoughtful approach to demand planning and how the company evaluated potential investors.
0:45: Justin Gill, Founder & CEO, Bachan's – Gill spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about his passion for surfing and background in jiu-jitsu before discussing how a heritage trip to Japan and Cambodia impacted his decision to launch a food brand. He also spoke about why he felt Bachan’s was “pretty buttoned up” upon its launch, going for an iconic look with the label design and how the description of “Japanese barbecue sauce” is both familiar and specific. Later, he explained why he’s focused on sustainable growth, how Bachan’s has dramatically scaled production while maintaining product quality, how risk-taking paid off amid a supply chain crisis and why the best investment deals are ones in which no one gets exactly what they wanted.
Brands in this episode: Bachan’s, Huy Fong, Krave
Consumers Crave An Immersive Experience, And All The Details Matter. Tacombi Has Shown The Way.
When Tacombi founder and CEO Dario Wolos reflects upon the origins and development of his Mexican-inspired restaurant chain, he gets a bit nostalgic.
Launched out of a retrofitted VW bus parked on the shores of Playa del Carmen, Tacombi was born out of Wolos’ passion to share Mexican culture through authentic food, hospitality and experiences.
Sixteen years after selling its first taco, Tacombi is in the midst of a major expansion during which it will open at least 75 new locations across the U.S. over the next five years. The growth plan is supported by a $27.5 million funding round that the company completed in December 2021 and was led by Enlightened Hospitality Investments, the growth equity fund affiliated with restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group.
Meanwhile, Tacombi’s consumer packaged goods brand, Vista Hermosa, which markets tortilla chips, corn and flour tortillas and a new line of frozen burritos, is rapidly expanding its retail footprint to over 800 stores including Whole Foods and Bristol Farms.
Tacombi is Wolos’ life’s work – he conceived the concept as a teenager – and although the new restaurants and retail expansion will bring his vision closer to reality, the journey and experiences that came with it have come to define who he is as an entrepreneur and a leader.
In this episode, Wolos spoke about how he applied learnings from the early days of Tacombi to its current business operations, how the timing of Tacombi’s launch and development in the U.S. has benefited its growth, why he described the creation of a CPG brand as a natural evolution for the company and the decision to align with Danny Meyer and Enlightened Hospitality.
0:45: Dario Wolos, Founder/CEO, Tacombi & Vista Hermosa – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif met with Wolos at Tacombi’s “oficina” in New York City, where the entrepreneur spoke about setting down roots in the Bowery neighborhood, Vista Hermosa’s new Burrito Bueno line, what spurred his decision to exit a hot market for startup tech and why he chose to launch Tacombi in Mexico. He also explained how the diaspora of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. helped generate greater interest in the country’s cuisine and authentic food, why sourcing high quality produce is challenging and yet key to Tacombi’s menu strategy and how the creation of Vista Hermosa aligned with the restaurant’s focus on authenticity and premium ingredients. Later, Wolos spoke about how Tacombi is attempting to reach consumers at every touchpoint, including online, how the company was bootstrapped until the deal with Enlightened Hospitality and why he reflects upon the past when considering the accelerated pace for opening new restaurants.
Brands in this episode: Tacombi, Vista Hermosa
The Underestimated Value Of Showing Up. And How A Little Oomph Goes A Long Way.
In this episode, the hosts explained why founders who regularly attend industry events are often better positioned to support their brands than those who don’t, riffed on the impact of sleek and clever packaging and marveled at a sparkling water brand’s latest LTO.
This episode also features an interview with Michael Lewis, the founder and general manager of oomph!, a new brand of low-sugar, functional candy chews and gummies that is backed by venture capital firm Science Inc., an investor in Liquid Death and Dollar Shave Club, among others.
0:45: No, These Are Not Dad Jokes. Long Lists Getting Longer. Some Standout Package Design. – Ray got the show going with a few truths before he, John and Mike spoke about why networking opportunities at BevNET Live and NOSH Live are unlike those at other industry events. They also highlighted a new olive oil brand with a catchy name and unusual label, why Ray was particularly impressed with a recently launched plant-based breakfast sandwich, an RTD cocktail whose package resembles the shape of a CD and a collaboration that, TBH, is pretty special.
20:20: Michael Lewis, Founder and General Manager, Oomph! – Lewis met with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif at Natural Products Expo East 2022 where he spoke about how Science Inc., which developed and incubated oomph, evaluated the opportunity for better-for-you candy, why the venture capital firm saw him as the right person to lead the charge, how oomph is applying learnings from early customer feedback into its marketing and communication strategy and why innovation is top of mind.
Brands in this episode: Dream Pops, Single & Fat, Ferm Fatale, Alpha Foods, Graza, Brightland, Cocchi, Whitebox Cocktails, Sap’s, Aura Bora, Chubby Snacks, TBH, Transcendence Coffee, oomph!, Liquid Death, SmartSweets
Business IS Personal. And It’s How Sahra Nguyen Is Reshaping An Industry.
Sahra Nguyen is a born storyteller. Her latest opus is helping change the way the world perceives Vietnamese coffee – and a lot of people are listening.
An award-winning documentary filmmaker, Nguyen is also the founder and CEO of Nguyen Coffee Supply, a direct trade specialty coffee company based in New York City. Launched in 2018, the company’s mission is “to diversify the coffee industry, increase the visibility of Vietnamese producers and transform the landscape through sustainable coffee farming.”
Nguyen Coffee Supply buys certified organic coffee beans directly from a fourth-generation coffee farmer in Vietnam and roasts them in small batches in Brooklyn. The company primarily markets whole Robusta beans in a variety of styles and taste profiles, along with brewing tools and a recently launched line of ready-to-drink coffee.
The products are almost entirely sold direct-to-consumer via the company’s website; however, the brand is gradually making its way into brick-and-mortar retail. Earlier this year, Nguyen Coffee Supply raised $2.6 million in seed round in support of new distribution, innovation and marketing initiatives.
In this episode, Nguyen spoke about the company’s origins and why she is adamant about changing the narrative around Robusta beans, why incorporating her personality and background into brand communication and products is both challenging and highly effective, and the one word that drives the company’s innovation strategy.
0:45: Sahra Nguyen, Founder & CEO, Nguyen Coffee Supply – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif met with Nguyen at a shared roasting facility in Brooklyn where they riffed on their Boston roots and favorite cocktails before the entrepreneur explained the “two-pronged light bulb moment” that led to the development of Nguyen Coffee Supply. She also spoke about why early communication about the company was focused on Vietnamese culture, how she convinced the specialty coffee industry to embrace Robusta beans and how she measures the impact of social media. Later, she explained how she become more comfortable with being the face and primary communicator for the brand, despite being an introvert, the company’s effective PR strategy and goals for B2B and B2C audiences, and how a keyword analysis helped Nguyen Coffee Supply determine the most important elements of the RTD line.
Brands in this episode: Nguyen Coffee Supply, La Colombe, Chobani
Insightful and entertaining!
Love hearing these valuable conversations and getting to pull back the curtain on what goes into building and growing a successful CPG brand. A must listen for any entrepreneur!
Loved it and great insight
Must listen if you are an industry participant
The bevnet team does an incredible touching on poignant topics while providing some humor along the way. Great show.