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Alternative Foods To Compete with Mainstream Products

Mauricio Brito - Heartbest Foods


Antonio Gozain By Antonio Gozain | Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst - Fri, 01/14/2022 - 10:47

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Q: What differentiates Heartbest Foods from other companies focused on plant-based products?


A: First, we believe that our know-how developed in San Luis Potosi, allows us to have unique control of our food technology-based innovation. Then we relay in our supply chain and IT platform for proper data-driven decision-making. The development of our teams is also a key feature: Today our teams perform and keep pace with teamwork and a result-oriented attitude, with a working modality that matured rapidly over the past year. Finally we have evolved the strategy of our brand positioning to support our products. The combination of those factors makes us unique and puts Heartbest in a favourable position to consolidate as a relevant player regarding production, quality, and fulfilment rates to our clients, market and venture capital initiatives.


Q: What challenges did Heartbest’s supply chain face during 2021?


A:  The main supply chain challenges were having an adequate level of stocks within a mix of external conditions as the pandemic “new normal” changes in consumer habits and supply chain constraints. Heartbest is academic in its approach to those situations. We move efficiently thanks to proper forecasting, working capital management, and precise planning to incorporate our innovations into our business as usual, while developing our base of providers to sustain our business continuity.


Q: What role does the company want to play as Latin America pushes toward sustainability?


A: BlueHorizon, one of our investment funds, has important sustainability and environment initiatives. Heartbest is part of a program in which all variables regarding sustainability are taken into account. Our goal is to be a key player in this regard in Mexico, consolidating our footprint and then expanding across the Americas.


Q: How did Heartbest’s footprint grow in 2021?


A: We are present in over 800 points of sale, including the main retail in Mexico. In terms of points of sale, Heartbest’s strategy during 2021 was more about strengthening our product portfolio, adapting the operation to a new normal, and understanding the key levers influencing our sales speed per point of sale.


Q: What is the outlook for the vegan and vegetarian markets in Latin America and what new opportunities could open for Heartbest in Mexico?

A: There is a large and growing market opportunity for dairy-free alternatives. In this segment, we have seen a constant interest with the entry of new competitors increasing the base of product offerings which has helped to grow the category. On the other hand, the consumers have become more conscious about their health and wellness, environmental impact and animal abuse, so they are constantly looking for alternatives.


Also, a comparison of dairy-free alternatives adoption rates in US, Europe and some other countries in Latam, indicates a gap to be close in Mexico hence it also means an opportunity for growth.


Those factors are driving an interesting market shift from dairy to dairy-free products. At Heartbest we embrace the new challenges and kept focused on consolidating our positioning in all the relevant categories where we participate as plant-based milk, cheese, spreads and others.


Q: What is the outlook for the food tech ecosystem?


A: The food-tech ecosystem is impressive, with a large number of companies innovating, both in B2B and B2C, with alternative products. The alternative product market is evolving with a much better product offering to vegans, flexitarians and those with food intolerances. In the B2C context, the real opportunity is to become relevant, versus mainstream players and compete directly with traditional products. On the other hand, several B2B companies provide services, such as blockchain and traceability systems, that will be crucial from a quality perspective. The food-tech ecosystem is growing rapidly and presents great opportunities for everyone involved.


Q: Last year, Heartbest attracted considerable investment. How has this fundraising helped the company?


A: It is virtually impossible to launch innovative products at the right volume and time, without investment to cover aspects such as R&D, quality, industrial testing, vendor development, equipment and the subsequent working capital.


For instance, the expansion of our cheese and milk portfolio was created after we opened to investment. The investment is equally important to improve our capacities and develop the team to have the right people with the right skills.


Having expert partners with a global scope willing to work with us raises our confidence. Working with investors also opens the door to potential partnerships and collaborative projects with other companies within our ecosystem.


Q: What kind of partnerships will help Heartbest Foods compete in the mainstream market?

A: At Heartbest we committed our business model with the mission of upgrading people live’s throughout our plant-based products. We believe that developing the category, creating awareness, and increasing the trial, with product innovation, availability and product competitiveness will contribute to consolidating our mission, then at the end of this journey consolidate the dairy-free / plant-based category as a mass market on its terms.

For this purpose, we believe the following actors will be crucial for that goal and support the growth of a promising market opportunity able to deliver great, tasty and healthy products for every occasion:

  1. The competition will be always good. It will be beneficial for consumers in the first place. It also drives the inherent market growth. We are happy to see how the competition helps to raise the bar, providing the opportunity to face new and different challenges that will need to be solved, to reach our mission at the end of the day.
  2. Partnerships with the retailers and wholesalers in the country are also crucial. Start-Ups companies such as Heartbest operate under different challenges compared with the mainstream food production companies. We must keep in mind that a win-win relationship at our scales creates jobs and a virtuous circle for the economy while providing better products to our communities
  3. Fundraising will remain an important factor too as explained before

Vendor development to provide materials and services in quality, time and quantity in line with the size of our operations in every stage of our strategic plans, this it is required to achieve proper economies of scale and therefore attractive point of price for our end-consumer.

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