Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Amy Keller, Co-Founder of Climate Candy, located in Hermosa Beach, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Climate Candy has set out to solve the climate crisis by preventing food waste by upcycling perfectly good fruits and vegetables to create FAVES, a candy that's good for people and the planet. FAVES makes both healthy choices and climate impact more accessible. FAVES offers a full serving of fruits and vegetables - including sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets! And the best part – all you can taste is a sweet fruity treat! This is stealth nutrition at its finest. Climate Candy works with local farms to procure imperfect produce that would otherwise go to waste.
Tell us about yourself
I am a seven-time Ironman and climate activist who strongly believes in finding a way to merge my passion for environmental issues and health. I was determined to create an alternative to traditional sugary treats that would make a positive impact on people's lives and health while also contributing to the planet.
Growing up, my family owned Spangler Candy Company, the makers of DumDum lollipops. However, I wanted to create a business that aligned with my values and vision for a sustainable future. That's when I came up with the idea for Climate Candy.
I wanted to provide a way for people to indulge in sweets and enjoy the same pleasure that traditional candy brings while also reducing the environmental impact. I knew that there had to be a better way to create delicious treats without harming the planet.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The way we eat and produce food is a significant contributor to climate change. 10% of all greenhouse gas created is from food waste. We use FAVES as an educational moment around what is in your food and the need for people to get their 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day and to discuss climate change in an accessible way through the candy. 25% of perfectly imperfect produce goes unharvested on farms. Unharvested produce wastes vital energy and contributes to climate change. Climate Candy rescues unharvested fruits and vegetables from farms and gives them new life as FAVES fruit chews. Food is the single strongest lever to optimize health and environmental sustainability on Earth. This requires a substantial shift towards plant-based dietary patterns and a 50% reduction in food waste.
More than 20 billion pounds of produce go to waste each year simply because they are excess or not perfectly shaped for grocery stores. Meanwhile, climate change is escalating, and people are going hungry. This is unacceptable, wasting so much food, all while running out of land, water, and healthy soil.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Increasingly, we expect our professional endeavors to line up with our values, interests, personal histories, and beliefs. I wanted to have a clear and deeply satisfying answer to the question, "Why did you spend all that time and effort producing that product or service or starting that company?
When I decided to create Climate Candy, I determined I wanted it to make a positive impact on people's lives and health and the health of the planet. This business idea is consistent with my values and lifestyle, and it contributes to my personal goals and dreams. It directly and positively affects lives beyond mine, and the world will be better off if I succeed. It will have a positive environmental impact.
As a seven-time Ironman triathlete and having a career focused on climate change, I found that I enjoyed setting a goal and beating it. This is a very complicated world, and people will only remember so much about us, so we need to be really clear on what we stand for. This is a world that is evolving faster than ever; we must rely on our mission to unlock differentiation through our unique power to move people's hearts and minds in a positive way. You may have the greatest product in the world and the greatest ideas, but if people can't understand the problem they solve, they'll never buy into it.
With the rise of health concerns like obesity and diabetes that inhibit the growth of the candy market, manufacturers have come up with sugar-free and low-calorie candies to tackle this situation. At Climate Candy, we observed these improvements but realized we have a much bigger challenge to face because we are not just trying to make zeroed-out labels or alternative sweetener candy - we are redefining the category of healthy candy to include high nutrition content.
Our goal is to recreate candy using fruits and vegetables while keeping all the nutrition intact. We have tested dozens of recipes, form factors, and flavors of candy that can be congruent with our mission. And most importantly, they all had to achieve high run rates at full-scale factory operations to be sure our positive environmental and social impact was maximized.
When we started, SQF audited facilities and high run-rate equipment were not ready for this challenge in the US. A huge differentiation we achieved in the candy market was engineering equipment that can handle plant-based fibers and a product that provides that stealth nutrition through candy. We realize that the really exciting businesses are innovative and differentiated in categories that have yet to be disrupted, and that is what we are bringing with FAVES. Climate Candy is part of a broader category with a lower carbon footprint, sustainable packaging, and upcycled ingredients.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First, we address production and distribution, where nearly 2/3rds of food waste occurs. Local sourcing of ingredients to the manufacturing and distribution locations improves the carbon footprint of FAVES dramatically.
Second, we improved basic food safety standards. Higher standards extend food supplies and prevent waste.
Third, we focus on consumers. The result of all these strategies is that more people can be fed, nutrition will improve, and there will be far less stress on our agricultural resources, urban landfills, and the global environment.
Food is the number one cause of poor health. Our world is overfed but undernourished, calorie-rich but nutrient-poor. Nearly 870 million people in the world are undernourished, and 9 out of 10 people don't eat enough fruits and vegetables.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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