On this episode, we have Chris Langwallner who is the Co-Founder and CEO of WhatIF Foods.
WhatIF Foods is supporting regenerative agriculture with their BamNut Milks & BamNut Noodles all made with the bambara groundnut as the key ingredient.
In this episode, we learn about Chris’ grandfather and upbringing in Austria that inspired him to “leave the world better than he found it,” the incredible regenerative ecosystem being built around the Bambara groundnut stretching across multiple continents, and what it means to truly be a “planet-based” brand.
😍 What are BamNut Noodles and BamNut Milk?
🙏 How Chris’ Austrian town and grandfather inspired him
🌏 Chris’ career in food across the globe
😡 Our huge combined problem of land degradation & deforestation
🤩 The game-changing Bambara Groundnut
🇺🇸 Why they chose the US as their 1st commercial market
🧪 The massive R&D lift to commercialize new crops at scale
🤝 Their amazing work with farmers in Africa
🤯 Upcycling Bambara waste to create biochar and renewable energy
🔑 Gen Z spending and voting power is the key to a regenerative future
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ReGen Brands Recap #44 - Cultivating The 'Regenerative Intersection' With The Bambara Groundnut - (RECAP LINK)
Disclaimer: This transcript was generated with AI and is not 100% accurate.
Kyle Krull - 00:00:15
Welcome to The ReGen Brands Podcast. This is a place for consumers, operators and investors to learn about the consumer brands, supporting regenerative agriculture and how they're changing the world. This is your host Kyle, joined by my co-host ac who's going to take us into the episode.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:00:33
On this episode, we have Chris Langwallner who is the co-founder and CEO of WhatIF Foods, WhatIF Foods is supporting regenerative agriculture with their BAMnut, milks and BAMnut noodles all made with the Bambara ground nut. As the key ingredient. In this episode, we learn about Chris's grandfather and his upbringing in Austria that inspired him to leave the world better than he found it. Plus the incredible regenerative ecosystem being built around the Bambara ground nut stretching across multiple continents. Man, this episode was a good one. Y'all we learned all about the amazing forgotten crop. The BAMnut. How, what if is improving communities in Africa with its cultivation, biochar Regen certifications, retailer, relationships, and so much more. Let's dive in what's up everybody. Welcome back to another episode of The ReGen Brands Podcast.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:01:05
Really excited today to have our friend Chris from WhatIF Foods with us. So welcome, Chris.
Chris Langwallner - 00:01:34
Hi, everybody. Hey, I'm looking forward to this session. I can't wait to get started.
Kyle Krull - 00:01:40
Thanks, Chris. We're excited to have you. Um If anybody couldn't tell that a CS intro was a little bit lower key today, it is 6 30 in the morning for today's recording. Um So shout out to Chris and Anthony for being here to accommodate my work schedule um doing this one early. So thank you both for that. I really appreciate it. Chris. We're excited to connect before we dive too deep into the origin story. Give us a quick lay of the land. You know, for those who are unfamiliar with WhatIF Foods, what sort of products do you produce? What flavors are they? What categories are they in? Give us like the lay of the land.
Kyle Krull - 00:02:01
Chris Langwallner - 00:02:13
a company that basically produces Planet Based Foods. We have two major categories that we have uh products for one is the planet based bum nut milk. Uh You can find us roughly, there are about 1000 stores throughout the US, predominantly east coast as well as uh west coast a little bit in the middle. Uh And then we have our noodles category which you call here, the Ramans and uh those are available online predominantly. Uh We have scaling capacity and we look forward to actually bringing them to you guys uh through our offline sales as well. Hopefully very, very soon.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:02:49
Love it. Love it. We, we have not had the products. I'm looking forward to it. I've heard amazing things. You did not. Yeah. Yeah.
Chris Langwallner - 00:02:56
My mistake I should have sent to you.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:02:58
Now. We, it's, it's been, it's been crazy as in, I'm recording a podcast at my girlfriend's place in California. Crazy lately. So I'll, I'll fall on that sword and say life's just been wild. Um, but Chris, we're, we're super excited to have you. I think you have one of the most interesting business models and stories and business, you know, businesses to just chat about on this podcast. So really excited for you to share that with everybody. Um Take us through, you know, just how this all got started. I know you have some interesting Austrian roots that kind of have sub subconsciously inspired it. Then you've had some interesting professional journey as well that, that were a part of it. So how did all this get started,
Chris Langwallner - 00:03:37
I guess. Uh Yeah, I got all started back home in Austria about 20 kilometers or probably 15 miles north of uh of Salzburg. Uh I grew up in a, in a, in a village setting of about 700 people and this sort of community uh was deeply embedded around the church. There was the butcher, there was uh the major restaurant or pub or inn, however you wanna call it, it basically the hangout place for all the folks uh opposite neighbor to us. Uh The bakery and the mayor and then the school and my grandfather was a huge figure in that community. Uh a, a man who had the backs of his fellow folks out there. And um you know, reflecting quite a fair bit about what influenced my journey uh profoundly. I'm always, my grandfather always comes up, he always pops up. Um I had the pleasure. I was about 13 or so when he passed away. Um But I remember him vividly. Uh he was probably the Netflix of his days uh in the community. He planted stories.
Chris Langwallner - 00:04:23
He made sure the next episode comes. So it was amazing as a grandchild to see him going out and planting a story. And he knew this is a lie and then he comes back and the box is friends. They always come back to him. So uh I loved it. I loved it. He knew what he does, but these folks who know him for 50 years didn't. But here's one thing that um that really popped up in the very recent past frequently.
Chris Langwallner - 00:04:49
And that is that my grandfather, he always said to us uh Children, he said, you know, to leave the world a better place than how you found it. And to me today that that sentence is so deeply ingrained in, in, in how I'm thinking. And today, if you look at the definition of regeneration, which is creation of more life, leaving the world a better place than how you found it is something that actually really resonates with me a lot. And I think this is where I really get the motivation from. And so it's about this community setting, people having each other's back, um, really being also, uh, a shaper and a mover in a way my grandfather and therefore, uh, taking people, uh, on the journey with him as well, that really, really shape. Yeah,
Anthony Corsaro - 00:05:44
that's really cool. Love that. And I can certainly relate to that. There's uh there's certain things about our family legacies uh that we can't explain that, inspire us to, to be certain ways and do certain things. It's, it's a beautiful thing. Um How, how has that translated into your work and how, you know, give us a little bit about your work background and what led to what if
Chris Langwallner - 00:06:07
unconsciously um probably more than two decades ago, more than 20 years ago, my wife and I made a decision to leave Austria uh behind for two years. That was 20 years ago in order to, in order to explore, um you know, in order to explore. And actually the first stint to the UK, I worked in Bristol for a huge multinational to start with after getting going in the industry, originally looking into seasonings and spices and so and so forth. Um And, and my wife and I left because we wanted to actually grow our careers. And English is an important part. We Austrians are lazy with regards to that. So therefore picking up English uh on, on the street uh in Bristol was a hell of a taking. It took me about six months to get there to be understood. And uh it was fantastic from there. Uh 9 11 shaped, of course globally, the world. And uh so it did uh shake my career. It gave me a total different new path.
Chris Langwallner - 00:06:55
And um at that point in time, there was an Austin entrepreneur who knocked on my doors and um I happened to help him turn the business around in Russia. So I've worked there for three years. Um I saw the wild side of business, uh quite frankly. And in 2005, I then decided to get it with my wife that we want to make an impact. And we knew at that point in time, nobody is waiting of Chris in Europe doing another season in sort of uh company because we wanted to do it entrepreneur as entrepreneurs. Uh And so we had decided to actually go to India and start a business in India.
Chris Langwallner - 00:07:31
And uh I'm, I'm looking back today and seeing, oh God, 2005, 2006, we relocated, we had two little Children, they went to local schools and it was a fantastic journey. Uh We ran into the financial crisis. Um We run into the Arab Spring. Our core market was the Middle East and then it was the Arab Spring and then our core market uh broke away. So it was challenging like how but here you are, this is where you learn the that you need in order to build businesses. Uh Nothing comes for free. Nobody is waiting for you. It's a big, big uh a big, big learning. Nobody is waiting for you. You think you have the best product, you think you have the best strategy, you think you have everything you need. Nobody is waiting for you.
Chris Langwallner - 00:08:13
Here you go. A big, big, big learning. Yeah. And um and from there, I just love building this business today. It is India's largest seasoning company, uh pro producing tons and tons of excellent products and um employing hundreds if not 1000 people. And all of those folks have had a fantastic opportunity to grow their own career. And that's what I call impact. You know, I'm a huge fan of impact through work, through jobs, through regenerative economies rather than through charity. I don't like charity at all.
Chris Langwallner - 00:08:42
I think it leaves just false hopes behind. And uh uh and that's what I unconsciously also built some somehow in, in India. And by the way, my joint venture partner, then a gentleman known as CV, Jacob um started again a business 51 years ago, done fantastically well um and built also the, the business in a, in a, in a community setting which again influenced me very well. So CV Jacob and my grandfather they had so much in common though. They never met each other. Um, and yeah, that shaped me, that shaped my, my outlook then lived a little bit in China and then I moved to Singapore and, uh started the journey towards water food about nine years ago.
Chris Langwallner - 00:09:27
And here I am Chris,
Anthony Corsaro - 00:09:39
how many different countries have you lived in?
Chris Langwallner - 00:09:41
Uh, I don't know. Um, I don't know that,
Kyle Krull - 00:09:47
I mean, that was England, India, Singapore, China, us, at least that's five plus Australia up to seven at this point. Um which is wild. Yeah, I, I want, I mean, there is a lot of questions I want to ask you and I really just appreciate the way you sort of like molded what was happening geopolitically almost with your career and how they kind of pushed you into different areas. Um That was really fascinating to hear. Um But I'm curious. So you, you are obviously a seasoned professional which uh that's pun intended there with seasoning companies. Um What, what made you, what was you most interested in coming to the US market and starting this, this regenerative brand here in the United States? And at what point in time did this like concept of soil health and regeneration from like a food perspective?
Kyle Krull - 00:10:19
When did that get on your radar? And what was sort of like the, the the moment like II I need to be a part of this industry and I want to be a part of this movement
Chris Langwallner - 00:10:48
um more than 10 years ago, probably even longer. I was deeply worried about stg 15. So life on land and soil degradation. So it was when I did a science incubator, that actually is the precursor to body foods. When we, when we walked through the world and we touched the soil and then you see literally just being dust, being left after all the nutrients being extracted by current agricultural practices, my heart broke apart. Again. My grandfather pops into mind because he was the one who knew his farm very, very well. He could go out and he saw indicate the plants and he knew what to do. He knew what sort of uh systems he has to put in place in order to rejuvenate and restore a particular parcel of land. And today who does that, which farm is out there?
Chris Langwallner - 00:11:24
Small holder farming communities too because they have to, they cannot sit on large scale tractors and move around and so and so forth. And the regen movement does that again, you know, the regen, the regeneration movement actually goes out and and and touches the soil, smells it and so and so forth. And you see that in many, many videos and clips out there on social media. So 10, 15 years ago, I started to really be worried about the soil decoration because here's a simple logic at this moment in time, we lose about 20 soccer fields or 25 soccer fields worth of arable land. At the same time, we are destroying equal amount at that per minute. At the same time, we are destroying about, uh, 25 soccer fields worth of primary forests.
Chris Langwallner - 00:12:05
So we are deforesting to make fresh land available for a system that degrades land and leaves, uh, 25 soccer fields behind. That is just bloody insane.
Kyle Krull - 00:12:26
Yeah, exactly. That, that is a wild statistic and I appreciate you bringing this to the table. I I just want to say that one more time. So you're saying that every minute we're destroying 20 to 25 soccer fields worth of soil and 20 to 25 soccer pitches worth of forested land. Is that correct?
Chris Langwallner - 00:12:43
Yeah. Yeah. So one is to make new land available for our existing agriculture and we with, with soil degradation, we leave passes of land behind unproductive. And the big challenge here is this with degradation of soil and soil health. Community health goes down to the the drain. Why? Because a farmer doesn't have the opportunity to parcel his land up, put it in a hole and go to the next farm. It doesn't work like that. A factory setting. You can do that, you can actually parcel up your assets and bring it to a new production location. The farmer can't. Right. So here is the problem if you, if we do not bring proper food systems to these folks that actually can help restore the production capacity of the land at the farm.
Chris Langwallner - 00:13:16
We set people in motion, we find them uh at the borders as migrants and this is sometimes a white elephant in the room. Um But to me, it isn't because it's just a natural conclusion. It's an unintended consequences of land degradation and we see it everywhere in the world, uh particularly in Africa, in Asia and other parts. So it is um the 10, 15 years ago for me was to basically say, look, if you wanna come in with a new diversified diet that for me is the best, um is the healthiest way of eating is a diversified diet. So, if you want to bring back nutrients that we need, in order to replenish the nutrients for on a day to day basis, might as well diversify our diet away from 12 crops and five animals that make more than 75% of all food that is being consumed and the big four do away with them. And, and I said is degraded out of the land. It sits there. Idol folks can't produce on it. Therefore, it doesn't yield them any income. So might as well go out and try to find a crop that actually restores that um production capacity.
Chris Langwallner - 00:14:22
And that's how I got going. And that's what that was the thought process. Uh that basically made me alert to looking out for opportunities such as the bum uh and, and here we are probably 567 years later um having launched in the US.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:14:55
And this is, this is gonna be a really interesting episode for our audience because I, I bet a lot of them have not heard of the BAMnut before. And I know there's, there's a, but that's the colloquial name that y'all have created to make it a little more easier on the palate and, and more marketable. Uh I think you told me Chris on the previous call. It's the babara nut is the, is the full, full name. Um But man, this, this plant uh it seems almost too good to be true. It seems so so cool and special for what I can do from an agronomy perspective and from a nutrition perspective. So, um we're gonna talk about this for a long time.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:15:27
I know Kyle is gonna have 17 follow up questions but just give, give people a feel for what's going on with this plant where you, where y'all are doing this work with the farmers, what you're doing with the farmers. And let's just talk about the agronomy piece and how it, how it helps with the land first.
Chris Langwallner - 00:15:46
Probably I get into answering this question by just um quoting the Rockefeller Foundation because they have said that nowhere in the world we are growing enough legumes. Uh Neither do we consume enough legumes. And if you go to a backset of the envelope calculation, you would actually quickly realize that by growing an equal amount of legumes that we actually grow zero carbs, we would, we would stop needing synthetic fertilizers because nitrogen fixation would happen naturally. Um And the religion movement exploits that idea anyways. And, and, and here we are. So the ground is a legume that fixes nitrogen, particularly in combination with biochar. Uh It over almost doubles it in one in one cycle. And it is a crop that is actually uh humbly comes from um today, Mali at a tribe called the Bambara tribe. Um basically the Bambara tribe cultivated it the first time and therefore folks in and around West Africa refer to it.
Chris Langwallner - 00:16:31
Hey, this is the Bambara bean from the Bambara folk. They also speak a language called Bambara and Mali. Today, if you travel towards east, there's Burkina faso and then south of it is Ghana and this is where we are operating currently. And uh it's a fascinating hardy crop that survives. Um very, very harsh conditions is heat tolerant, is drought tolerant. It needs very little water, it needs water for termination. So you have to hit the monzo. Uh But thereafter, it doesn't like too much water either.
Chris Langwallner - 00:17:03
Um Otherwise it doesn't do well. Neither does it like too good soils. So you really need to go uh with the on, on, on poor soil.
Kyle Krull - 00:17:27
Anthony Corsaro - 00:17:29
Yeah, that's awesome. Actually though we need, we need more things that don't like good soil, right. That make
Kyle Krull - 00:17:36
it better. I mean, it, it immediately makes me think like, you know, once you fix all this soil, you got to come up with a secondary product line to, to, to cultivate this, this regenerated soil, right? Um So it,
Chris Langwallner - 00:17:48
that's exactly what it is.
Kyle Krull - 00:17:51
Love that. And so it sounds like you are from like a product development perspective, right? You're looking for degraded land first, then figuring out what sort of crop you can grow in, that degraded land to have the type of impact you want to have. And then part three then becomes, how do you bring that product to market and especially with something that's brand new, that's not that I had never heard of before. Um walk us through that a little bit. What does that look like? You know, you have this incredible product. What did the R and D phase look like? How did you decide you wanted to do alternative milks with that versus some other application?
Kyle Krull - 00:18:17
And again, I wanna bring it back to like why or, or I guess preface that question with is the us your your primary marketplace here? And if so why?
Chris Langwallner - 00:18:33
So let me start answering that question because you asked me that before and I forgot to answer. So apologize for that. Um Look, the United States,
Anthony Corsaro - 00:18:41
we ask a lot of multi question questions, Chris. So we make it challenging. So we apologize for. Yeah, you make it
Chris Langwallner - 00:18:45
challenging. I have a little look at here. I should actually look down and see if I answer it or not. But yeah. So uh why do you s it's actually quite simple. The US is a huge consumer. The United States is receptive for the idea of a business like ours. And you guys are movers and Jake, what happens in the U in the US is going to be replicated elsewhere in the world. So in order to drive for us, in order to drive impact, you might as well go to the US and leave a footprint however big or small it is leave a footprint behind for us then to start replicating it elsewhere. So the US is leading in many, many aspects of the world and we also see it is leading in the regen movement and uh here I am, you know, trying my best of luck sometimes it's a little bit like a and exploration. Um but uh it's a fantastic journey and to be honest with you, I feel welcome. That's the, the, the most amazing part of it is that I feel just welcome every day everywhere I go beat New York, beat Los Angeles or be it here in Phoenix where I am right now. Uh The doors are open and uh and that's super cool.
Chris Langwallner - 00:19:42
That's really, really cool. Yeah. So what was the other question? I should get the other question.
Kyle Krull - 00:20:00
It's all good. No, I appreciate the perspective. Um and I, I guess I want to spend a little bit of time there. You know, as somebody I, I've spent a little bit of time traveling, not nearly as much as you have, but I will often feel like us is behind in some capacities, especially when it comes to, you know, I spent time in Australia and New Zealand and the dairy industry and some of the meat quality things there. Um, I feel like we're behind in some aspects. So it's really interesting to hear your point of view, especially because you are so well traveled and you spend so much time working in these industries in all of these different places. Um And yeah, just to get like AAA Foreigner's perspective on how the US can impact the rest of the planet. I think that's really, really interesting. Um So the, the other question I asked was, you know, you from a product development perspective, you find the degraded land, you find the right crop to grow in that degraded land. How do you then bring that product to market?
Kyle Krull - 00:20:36
How did you start exploring the different categories that you could potentially use that, that nut in? Uh why did you end up in play based milk, walk us through that process?
Chris Langwallner - 00:20:59
Um Here we go. And that actually needs me to explain why we call the company Body Foods. The, the the process that we adopted as a science incubator was always a lead question with what if, what if we take the deep fryer out of making instant noodles? What is the new horizon that opens up? What can we do if we don't have 20% of palm oil in the noodle um in the ramen because we're not deploying anymore. So those were essentially science and probing questions as to what could a new horizon look like? How could it look like? How could the universe unfold? Um And in the work that we did as a science incubator, we always started with what if questions and a what if questions, a set of, what if questions then get you into basically throwing a particular product into the lab slash kitchen and almost like do cooking competitions and say what is possible with this thing?
Chris Langwallner - 00:21:34
You know, how do we, what comes out and then you create um also for IP purposes, you create a ton of different recipes and you nail it down and say, hey, this is really, really working well here. This is not so good over here, but this one is just fantastic and that gets us always going every time we explore something like that, we, we as, as foodies uh in, in the back home in Singapore where we have our central R and D or the more fundamental R and D we do thought we do things like that. So that is basically the way to get basically to explore different categories. And then um our third pillar of regeneration, which is replenishing the nutrients we need on a day to day basis. Uh asks us for a gives us a mandate to basically rethink the production process of the ingredients to start with. Look, the reality of the fact is that nobody has done Bambara ground on, on any significant scale.
Chris Langwallner - 00:22:35
We are the first one who is taking the Babara ground into a significant scale and therefore, production processes don't exist. So we are the first one who takes the Bambara beans botanically, they are beans. We take the beans and we convert it into a set of ingredients that then ultimately become part of the dough structure for the ramen or is then being uh the the the foundational base for the portfolio of our milks and that had to be invented. Um And it sounds easy. You take it in a minute down. You are there. No, not as easy as that if you do, right? If you do that. Yeah, it is not.
Chris Langwallner - 00:23:13
If you do it that way and make milk at it tomorrow, you have a jelly in the fridge. So um there are significant challenges that then have to be resolved. But I wanna really what I want to get to with this is probably a little bit about how we uh we, we knew from literature that there is a fantastic um fiber fraction in the ground complex complex carbohydrate is less fibers plus all the essential amino acids, 25 20 to 25 protein, good quality fatty acids. That's why it's a complete crop, a complete food in its own way. But we knew, and we suspect it is a probiotic. Now, we know it's a probiotic. So we knew that there are, there are complex carbohydrates in there and that fascinates somebody like me who loves systems.
Chris Langwallner - 00:23:57
Because if you put just one prebiotic fiber into a product as an ingredient, you're just helping one microorganism species in a microbiome. But if you take it from a whole plant, which has several different versions of a prebiotic fiber and fibers, you are helping the entire microbiome to be healthy. So we knew it. And then my folks including market who was very stubborn at that point in time, market also happens to be my wife. She has, she sat down and she said, please get off my hook. I don't want to refine this plant.
Chris Langwallner - 00:24:35
I don't want to segregate the protein away from the fibers and the carbohydrates. I wanna keep it together and I want to find a process that allows me to actually then rehydrate the product into a milk without losing a single beam. And that was the big breakthrough. And if you look at our call outs with regards to the huge fiber content, the huge protein content, it is because we leave the bloody crowd intact. We don't segregate stuff, we leave it together. That's of course, a huge challenge from a, from a technology point of view and from a science point of view, it took us uh many, many hours and sleepless nights to get there. But, but today we are producing in millions of liters.
Chris Langwallner - 00:25:20
So um we have figured it out and uh I'm super proud of my folks who have been instrumental on that journey. How
Anthony Corsaro - 00:25:40
Chris, how are you, how's the marketing and the sales team communicating all this to retailers and to customers, right? Because it's a new, no, no one's ever heard of BAMnut milk or I'm sure the awareness is very low here in the US. There's this amazing nutritious, there's this amazing company behind it doing amazing work with farmers. Like how are you telling that whole story? I mean, the website is awesome.
Kyle Krull - 00:26:00
Just amazing branding. I was just gonna say that amazing branding. I mean, you guys are, you certainly don't look like a startup. It feels polished and professional and intentional in all of the best ways.
Chris Langwallner - 00:26:12
For sure. Thank you. Appreciate that. I will make sure my folks listen to this podcast
Kyle Krull - 00:26:20
because we're trying to increase our viewership. That's all we're trying to do, you
Chris Langwallner - 00:26:23
know? Yes. OK. You, you, you have me there. I I I'll help um getting this story out there is uh is, is very difficult, it is very, very, very difficult. Um It's a big lift because we are having an intention span of not even a second anymore. On all the social media, the channels are going wild. Um People are flipping over and then more than even more than that, we find so many people with try to communicate to are just given up. They're just hopeless. Those who really care about our planetary health and community well-being. Um If they don't see themselves with tools at the disposal to actually do something about it, they have given up. So it is really, really a big challenge.
Chris Langwallner - 00:26:57
However, what we understood, particularly talking to Gen Z and that's also the reason why we are, why we, why our design work is like that, you know, because we want to speak to Gen Zs is that look is the first generation that have been educated in kindergarten on sustainability. They are native in sustainability and they sniff through the BS immediately. So with, with, we don't have to communicate too much to sniff it immediately. Um And then when we started to go out and speak to them uh with our message that we are a planet based company all of a sudden there's a stop. What is that? OK.
Chris Langwallner - 00:27:39
And then, so that the, we believe that the widest store that we can push open for folks to come in is planet based. And honestly, I love it because when I started the brand work, I didn't wanna be known as a vegan brand, a vegetarian brand, a plant brand. I, I didn't want to be known as that because it is very niche and quite frank these brands in these brands tend to be exclusive to one particular segment, divisive exclusive. They can be read right bla bla bla. And in order to make an impact, we need to bring folks on the table, we need to generally, we need to start having a conversation that gets us forward and not and not what we are doing currently. So I didn't want to do that.
Chris Langwallner - 00:28:22
But what it actually did is in the first year when we started marketing the product in Singapore, I left and the brand left a vacuum in the media landscape and they actually pulled us in to. This is another plant based movement, a plant-based product. And it took us actually, I it took us some time to recognize it. But then when I understood it, I said, OK, we need to do a proper position in work here and take the brand into what work belongs to. And that is planet based because regeneration, regeneration in today's day and age is a global challenge. If we believe that the CO2 cloud up there in our atmosphere knows borders. We are wrong. It doesn't matter, the atmosphere goes around everywhere. So regeneration is a global issue.
Chris Langwallner - 00:29:03
We need to think globally sustainability. You might resolve challenges with communities locally, which we also do. But regeneration is a global issue. You think about water footprint. We've taken so much water out of this planet that it tilted 80 centimeters per hour. It freaks me out.
Chris Langwallner - 00:29:24
It scares the shit out of me frankly. And therefore, and therefore we need to start thinking totally differently. We need to start thinking how can we come together in order to resolve a global challenge that doesn't know boundaries and borders. How can we resolve that together through a total new system approach? And here we are.
Kyle Krull - 00:29:59
Well, I, I love that answer for so many different reasons and there's so many other pieces I want to like dive in there and unpack. Um I don't know if you've listened to any of our episodes previously or not, but you were really speaking Anthon as language in the, the big tent inclusivity versus exclusivity. You know, the, the uh I don't want to call it the enemy of regeneration, but big ag and industrial extractive agriculture is the problem. It's not meat based, it's not plant based. It's the processes in which we grow all of our food. So I love the way that you, you chose intentionally to not affiliate yourself with any of these exclusive movements. Um So I think that's really cool. And as you were speaking, I kept thinking intentionality.
Kyle Krull - 00:30:27
It's just like a recurring theme that keeps coming up the way, you know, obviously every company that produces food is producing it on the planet. They're all planetary companies, but reframe that the way you have and to make it seem like, again, intentionally that you're trying to focus on fixing the whole planet. Um, again, just really a kind of novel approach there that I really appreciate. I do want to dig into like one very specific question about like your loy. So I was just looking at your website in loys list of ingredients. Um It's very common in nut milks to have some relatively cheap oils added in there.
Kyle Krull - 00:30:57
And I'm noticing that you're using coconut oil, which I'm assuming there's a, there's a reason for that and I'd love for you to kind of dive in and tell us why you're choosing to use coconut oil, which is more expensive, higher quality and in my opinion, better for human consumption. So walk us through that choice
Chris Langwallner - 00:31:27
you, but it tastes good. I think that it is just a fantastic tasting product in particular in combination with the bum. Um because at the end of the day, if products are not tasty, folks will not adopt it, they may buy you once from a shelf because they're intrigued by the packaging. But the probability repurchasing becomes AAA huge issue. So at the end of the day, food has to taste nice. You know, if we are satisfied with what we have had and then reflect on OK, I've now actually done super cool stuff. I haven't made an impact with what I've just eaten. Then I would say my job take, I'm a happy man. I'm probably the happiest man on this planet. So the the the true answer is, I mean, we have tried all literally all oils out there that you can find out there.
Chris Langwallner - 00:31:57
And uh we have narrowed down to the, the coconut because it just is the the the tastiest product. And then it has super cool other uh functions in combination with, with, with the Bambara, like the form of it and so on and so forth. And if you also have paid attention to the list of ingredients that we have, particularly in our three milks, the barista the everyday in the area, uh we only have essentially three ingredients and one of, one of it is water, the bambara and then coconut oil and we distinguish the functionality and the purpose of the products through the process of the ingredient. So the barista is a super cool forming um uh product that is creamy and while the area really fantastic in smoothies and then in protein shakes and what have you that sort of applications. And uh we love it for that and we have designed it with the same set of ingredients using processes to get us there, which is another differentiation from other products that are out there because sometimes it's just a new brand. They fall back on the same supply chain as so many others. They have only a choice of so many ingredients from that set of suppliers and therefore they are just, you know, it's difficult for them to really innovate around that.
Chris Langwallner - 00:33:14
Our process is totally different to the bean from the bean into the ingredients and then ultimately into the milk or into the flour is a totally different novel process and it allows us to approach the ingredients list also very, very different. And uh yeah, it's a fantastic journey and coconut oil for a taste.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:33:45
I I wanna double back Chris real quick to the global impact framing, right? Like I think this is really cool because we have a supply chain largely based in Africa that's being commercialized in the US. And we have a gentleman who spends his time all over the place mainly in Singapore, mainly that's kind of, you know, the CEO and the founder of the company. I just think that's one really cool two. You shared some incredible stories with me around the the farmer livelihood, piece of this. You know how receptive that community has been in Africa to growing this crop? Like can you just share some of that with the audience and some of the success you've had with the farmers there?
Chris Langwallner - 00:34:22
Gosh, how, how long do we have? We have to talk hours and hours and hours that it's the community, the community and the community well-being. Look, let me just set the context, northern parts of Ghana as well as in in the Sahel region. Uh All of Africa um modern agriculture has left 40% of Children below the age of five, stunted behind the reason is that they are, they are growing food, they are growing crops that are exported. So we have products on our plates in the US and in Europe and anywhere else in the world that have been grown in these communities. Yet their Children get stunted, 40% of them below the age of five. And I I like setting this the context around this because Children below the age of five, obviously are not older than five. So something major has gone wrong in the last decade. So what is it that has really, really gone wrong?
Chris Langwallner - 00:35:13
And it's a direct correlation in my eyes to soil health. The moment the soil health falls off the cliff, the farmers can't produce the yields anymore. They need in order to pay their debt. If they cannot pay their debts anymore, then they are forced to sell out all the stocks that they otherwise have for their own consumption and therefore they are running out of food. So we're leaving not only poverty behind but increasing hunger through the existing system. Stop pause very doomy sort of a landscape right there. But here comes a company that works with something that is originally uh that originates there.
Chris Langwallner - 00:35:53
The and here we come and we go into this community and we go to the chief of the community and we say, look, you don't know us, we don't know you. We cannot expect you to trust us. Neither will we trust you. Initially. It's a two way stream, but here is what we would like to do. We would like to work with you equitably on the ground that is native to you.
Chris Langwallner - 00:36:21
We don't have to explain to you how wonderful the Baba ground that is for your soil restoration because you already know it. You would love to dig down deep, double down on it. And that was the entry point for us working with communities Scott and I at the Scott of the Pond Foundation. And I, when we started this work about uh two years ago, 8, 18 months, two years ago, uh we said first year, let us celebrate at 250 farmers. Guess what happened after four months of our work, our subscription list of farmers folks who wanted to work with it was 2000 just by going in differently. We do not have a contract with us.
Chris Langwallner - 00:36:56
There are, there are other folks go in there and make, make these farmers sign contracts that are sometimes as thick as this half an inch. These folks can't read it. They sign something. And then what do you do if that farmer defaults that contract? What are you going to sue him for that $1 a day? He makes, got to be kidding me. What is this all about? You know, this is just absolutely nonsense to me. So we went in there.
Chris Langwallner - 00:37:24
We asked the permission to work with the community through the chiefs, the chief recognized our sincere intention. And here we are in the middle of the community. All of a sudden four months later, we had 2000 people and then we found ourselves of and that was we did not know in the absence of proper food and listen to this. The Babara ground milk is not only a forgotten crop, but it has almost been eaten to extinction in certain pockets of West Africa. And the reason is because you have 40% of Children below the age of five being stunted. And hence, there is hung in the community.
Chris Langwallner - 00:37:54
And if you have a hungry family, you actually eat up the seeds that you otherwise use to plant for next crop season. Wow. So the seeds have been enough. So it was a tremendous heavy lifting in the first year to get our hands on seeds. We just got enough seeds for about 980 farmers to work with in the first year. But we did. So we distributed the seeds. Here's another fantastic story that I love to share.
Chris Langwallner - 00:38:23
We because we, because we kicked off the seed um sourcing a little bit late because we did not know we didn't. We underestimated that so much seeds have been eaten up already. So we actually distributed seeds a little bit late uh to certain communities and you know, some of them are really, really, really, really poor. And we don't have, we don't have an agreement with them. But guess what happened? Because of our approach.
Chris Langwallner - 00:38:44
If they didn't plant it, they didn't eat it. They actually brought the seeds back to us. They said sorry this year we cannot participate. Here is the seed bank, that's partnership, that is being honest with each other, right? And we basically love that story as much as we love the story where the farmers in the first year started to succeed in growing the Bama. So fast forward um through CASS I our local partner, as well as the foundation supervising everything that we are doing.
Chris Langwallner - 00:39:11
And thus we have about uh 15, 20 people on the ground. We go out with field officers uh to the communities, we try to help them figure out what's the best system we work with local universities as well, tap into talents there and what have you fast forward harvesting season at the harvesting season. We went back and we started to purchase these beans equitably. And that means we paid every bloody kilo that came out of our program. We increased the income on the farm by 300% at 2.5 acres. Wow, at 2.5 acres of one farmer growing it, we actually stop them from being in poverty. We actually take them out of poverty at 2.5 acres.
Chris Langwallner - 00:39:59
Um And that is our intention, our intention there is to go as big as we possibly can in order to stop poverty in order to help people uh in the masses to overcome this particular challenge. So that was before Christmas of last year. Guess what happened afterwards? Our telephones didn't stop ringing. My was called over and over and over again. This year, we are gonna work with about 6500 farmers probably even more. The starts are gonna be back next week. I'm gonna be in Ghana next week.
Chris Langwallner - 00:40:32
So I'll have the data next week for about 6500 farmers and the waiting list is north of, but it's not of 20,000 farmers don't want to work with
Kyle Krull - 00:40:59
them. Incredible and, and correct me if I'm wrong, not only is it the the paying the farmers, you know, raising the income level, you know, 3300% per acre or 2.5 acres. Um Sorry if I just butchered all those stats, but not only are you paying them more money, you're also helping them to fix their soil so they can grow other foods. Is that correct?
Chris Langwallner - 00:41:19
Absolutely. I mean, we don't do it. The Barbara does it. Um So, so the Barbara does it. The Barbara is a natural nitrogen fixing. So for a follow on crop. So if the Bambara has done its magic for 23 seasons on one particular field, the Barbara will do its magic will leave nitrogen behind. So the farmer doesn't need to apply so that the fertilizer for a minute or a corn. Uh After the Barbara said my chop is done, I want to go next to a field because this field is ready for something else. That's the there. But you are right. Uh We also work with biochar.
Chris Langwallner - 00:41:41
We are bringing biochar back into the system in order to help this degraded arable land to uh to store and retain the moisture, the spares water that it rains, keep it back because biochar by, by its own right is not a fertilizer. It decreases the carbon concentration. Yes. And over time it, it, it helps on that. But at the end of the day, it's a sponge. I call it a battery for soil nutrients as well as water.
Chris Langwallner - 00:42:11
And the more the more biochar you have in the soil, the easier it is for the Bambara to grow steadily over the, over the over the uh vegetative cycle. And we saw that in the first year, but just a little bit of uh a little bit of bio, we have seen up to 40% yield increase. It has nothing to do with genetics, nothing to do. It's just simply making sure that the plants have water throughout the season, uh as well as nutrients and it's a fantastic, easy way to fix it. And then, you know, if you think biochar through, you are essentially in the carbon industry because you are taking atmospheric carbon you remove it, you lock it permanently into biochar and you are basically sequestering uh carbon. And um and that's a fantastic, fantastic additional angle to what we're doing in terms of regeneration, regenerating as to what's broken. Um So we are in our, we are on a path to become a lifetime carbon zero company by 2040. We want to be there by 2030.
Chris Langwallner - 00:43:03
Uh We wanna have um enough access, carbon credits on the market uh in order to let others participate in our journey through them, offsetting what uh what, what they admit. Um And you know, it's, it's, that fills my heart to be able to actually talk about insetting in our business, which are the food supply chain can do that. You know, I, I don't know of any, you know, either you have a carbon play or you have a food play, but we do it uh essentially under one roof and that's just absolutely fantastic.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:43:51
It's amazing. It's, it's amazing to me how uh how far we've strayed from simple solutions like biochar, maybe not in its current form, but like some version of it has been around for a very long time and crop rotations have been around for a very long time. And like just doing those two basic things now you gotta have the technical assistance. So the farmers know actually know how to do it. You gotta have the seed you like there's enabling, there's enabling roadblocks I get that. But you know, a lot of the work that I think we're doing in a lot of the money and this is my personal gripe. It's like going to wrong super high tech things that I don't really know if it's necessarily what we need. Um And Chris correct me, if I'm wrong, I could be making this up and I'm working off one screen so I can't check myself my notes from our previous call. But you make the biochar from the like the the supply chain process of making the products, right?
Anthony Corsaro - 00:44:27
Or there's some, there's some sort of like upcycling component there. Am I, am I making that up?
Chris Langwallner - 00:44:44
No memories, doesn't failure. It's absolutely correct. But about a ground nut is a bean that essentially comes in, comes in a shell. Uh think of it very similar to peanuts though. The difference is that the Bambara has like one bean in one shell, peanuts have two. So the shell is a, is, is a fantastic raw material uh as a starting point for biochar and we want to do this at scale because what we also see is that there are, there are tons of other uh agri waste materials in the community that ultimately just rot and emit methane. Or if they, if if the pile becomes too big and the community doesn't know anymore what to do with it. They just lit it on fire and off it goes in flames and the carbon is back in the atmosphere. So there's another opportunity for us to basically go in, take this feedstock, um bring it into a centralized location, use proper machines. We are not there yet, but we started that journey. Um use proper machines to make high quality biochar.
Chris Langwallner - 00:45:32
And then here comes another one another layer that you can think through. Once you have that there is an it's an exothermic process. In order to have biochar at steady state, you need probably one third of the thermal energy back into the biochar paralysis uh process. But two thirds become available, you can harvest that make your electricity that you need in order to convert the beans into the ingredients portfolio. So you are basically self sustaining and self sustaining off the grid and that is our project there in as we call it. Uh That's why our next big face is coming.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:46:22
That is insane, man. Wow,
Kyle Krull - 00:46:25
Chris. If it weren't 7 22 in the morning, I might have comprehended more of that to be honest with you. Um But it sounds like an extraordinary process and I mean kudos to you for helping to the development of uh Yeah, I mean, you, you really just feel like such an opportunity, right?
Anthony Corsaro - 00:46:41
I mean, but but but to recap sorry to cut you off, it's basically it's a nitrogen fixing crop that has soil health principles that can be, it has a waste stream that can be upcycled in a biochar in a production manner that can create renewable energy. Like that's exactly what it
Chris Langwallner - 00:46:57
Anthony Corsaro - 00:46:58
Chris Langwallner - 00:46:59
is awesome. So I call it the regenerative intersection where soil restoration, renewable energy, carbon sequestration and well-being need that is to meet the regenerative intersection of these four dimensions of work that unfolds uh at water foods. Yeah.
Kyle Krull - 00:47:20
So I mean, no, no, it's all good. We, we spent a lot of time on the Agronomy piece, which is great. This is, this is like weird Rory four. Anthony has spent more time than, than me and I'm gonna bring it back to the brand side which is typically the opposite. Um We're doing all this amazing work, you know, you get this incredible brand, you've got some incredible products. Um walk us through what the journey has been like in the US retail marketplace specifically. How are you presenting this? How is it being received? What are the challenges you're running into and sorry, I'm I'm always guilty of asking like five questions at the same time.
Kyle Krull - 00:47:37
I was just counting them at three. And I want to ask one more like, how are you feeling about the certification space in the regenerative movement?
Chris Langwallner - 00:48:01
Sorry. What was the last question you asked? I couldn't hear you. How
Kyle Krull - 00:48:04
are you feeling about the certification space? You know, you, you're doing some incredible regenerative work? Yeah. Yeah. So what's, what's your take on certifications today? Is that coming in the future? How are you feeling about that? You know, walk us through that. Can we
Anthony Corsaro - 00:48:16
prompt you if, if you need reminders on all, all seven of those,
Chris Langwallner - 00:48:21
please have more more because you, ok, the process look about, um I think it was May last year. Uh you land at LAX and then you try to make your first contacts. Um Lucky enough I had a previous exposure to California. I, I did work in the valley um with folks so they have a couple of friends and you get going and you start, start somewhere fast forward from there. We have launched our, so May then in June we had the first container coming in. By the way, this is the tail end of pandemic. We tend to forget that the first container that we shipped into the United States was four months on water. Four months on water usually takes you five weeks. Ok.
Chris Langwallner - 00:48:55
So that was good because we had enough time to prepare ourselves.
Kyle Krull - 00:49:11
Chris Langwallner - 00:49:14
wasn't intentional. That one wasn't. But uh but yeah, you, you, you, you take it, you take it as it as it comes. So yeah, so we started off with our Shopify. Um We figured out the first distribution centers and stuff like that. So that was ok. We got going, we had breakdowns in the system, fixed it, bug fix, bug fixing. And um we have a, a location out of um out of L A and this is where we basically flew in and started going and then the work, the initial work that they do attracts people, some of them start buying. We had, at that point in time, we had a super cool CNN article that literally gave us a kickstart. We were just going live for Shopify. It really gave us a kickstart and all of a sudden you have a, a customer base and, and that was so cool because you have interactions and so and so forth. Um And then we went to the fancy food show in Las Vegas that was actually before May.
Chris Langwallner - 00:49:54
Um and the master broker spotted us, Mike Moss and he has done his magic and he said you, I wanna work with us and he's done his magic. He got us going, he got us started with his set of other friends. And um about six months after that, after us getting started, um we were successful on listing ourselves at Ke and UN F I uh two national distributors, which is also not so easy to get into. But uh yeah, and from there onwards, you, you go into more uh smaller retail chains. Um and you try to work your way through that system and see how this is all working. But today we are, I think in 14 distribution centers throughout the United States uh and are really, really ready to uh to double down in double down essentially in the, in that sort of distribution. Um It has been fantastic so far.
Chris Langwallner - 00:50:45
So I always say you can't work on velocity unless and until you are in the door. So we are in uh about 1000 doors by the end of the year, probably 1200 or so. And now we started diligently working on velocity. Uh We have some fantastic partners on that and we want to make sure that we are in the store for a long period of time rather than being listed in a short period of time. And that is the next challenge to overcome. Uh We are working on that.
Chris Langwallner - 00:51:13
Uh We have, you know, internally actually, Mike, the guy who brought us together, uh he calls it liquid on lips because the moment you actually taste our products, you are convinced it just tastes awesome. It is fantastic. The easiest conversion for us is just making them taste and then you tell the story and then you have probably better believers that we call them for a Lifelock uh time. So uh here we are, that has been the journey. I don't think there's anything unique. Uh We do not have the biggest uh marketing budget. We don't have the big box that actually forced you into the retail shelves because the retailers have to do it because they see you everywhere. Uh We're not operating like that.
Chris Langwallner - 00:51:53
We literally consciously also took the sort of uh sort of grassroots approach really come in, understand the law of the land, understand how it works. Uh going to smaller shops to start with, figure out how you, how you do that before you start really doubling down with big marketing budgets. Um And I feel that we are somewhat ready now uh on that journey. And uh it's fantastic. And then also I have to say ground, we are the only manufacturer of the ingredients. We have a network of co packers. Our noodles are manufactured in our own factory. So there's a finite capacity available to us. So we can't really go in with a big bank.
Chris Langwallner - 00:52:28
It's not possible. But as we are building now, you know, I spoke to 8, 980 farmers first year this year, 6800 farmers. So as we actually build our capacities on the back end side, we can actually look in the front and to say, so how are we approaching the next phase? Now? Is there now more National wide natural uh distributor or sorry, a retailer, the right partner for us. And here are super cool conversations, to be honest because the once you have a setting with uh senior management of retailers and buyers and you can actually then spend 15 minutes explaining the story. I I guarantee you they don't leave the table at 15 minutes.
Chris Langwallner - 00:53:03
They want to understand more and learn more. So that was great. Um Of course, um Expo West has been fantastic for us as well with regards to that journey, it was just absolutely brilliant. We love to do it again and again and again. And uh and here we are. So that's the, the journey in the United States. Uh This country is fascinating. Uh You have so many different nuances, you all, you all folks speak English. So that's the, that's the easy part of it all.
Chris Langwallner - 00:53:30
But uh then you have so many no answers, so many different habits, so many different beliefs and value systems. So it's, it, it's absolutely great. Um So II I just, I just loved it. I love the journey here. It's just absolutely amazing from one extreme that's called Africa with all the challenges that I've, that I've of the conflict that I've explained before and then you come into this part of the world and it's a totally different context. So it's uh it's fantastic to have this and Yang going on regeneration and certification in uh overall. Um I, I have a love and hate relationship with certifications and the reason is very simple. We try to measure everything. How do you measure trust?
Chris Langwallner - 00:54:06
So here is my take, unless and until we figure out what the right, what's the right thing to do? And we leave the certification space to only one vintage point, we will go down the same rabbit hole as the other certifications have done. Call it fair trade, call it whatever it might be. So my key to the regen movement is open your arms and welcome vintage points as wide as you possibly can think of regeneration, not just agriculture and what matters in the United States. Because regeneration is a global phenomenon. We need to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere globally. We have it's a mandate to help communities all over the world also in the US of course, um open up, open your arms. Welcome different vantage points. Welcome different view points.
Chris Langwallner - 00:55:10
Just don't drag it just to suit one particular um application for the lack of a better word. And that is my plea to it. Um We also are on our journey to actually be Roc certified. We have about 100 and 50 acres of um of our trial fields that we are doing. We are on the journey because it is mandated, it's easier to communicate. It's shortcuts you in the communication if you Roc certified.
Chris Langwallner - 00:55:40
Ok, please tell us know what that means and then they tick the box and they, and they can actually go to the next discussion point. It's all great. But that is then the efficiency. Ok. But the effective effectiveness is too, are we going to do the right thing that must be addressed over and over and over again and there's not just one right solution, there are many, many right solutions. Um And, and this is my take on certification in general, in particular in this new one that is basically also on the development, which is IOC
Kyle Krull - 00:56:23
first and foremost kudos to answering every single question I asked. Not in. So you did a great job. Um well, well done. Um And it's my, my bad for continuing to do that all the time. But I think I really appreciate what you said about the certification space and how you sort of advocating for both sides in a way that like the certifications are needed. They are a shortcut, not just for the buyers but for the consumers also so that they can really understand what this is and how they can adopt it. But at the same time keeping that sort of big tent inclusive rather than an exclusive approach and making sure that what we're measuring is really what matters and that we're not creating systems for the sake of creating systems or, you know, red tape for the sake of creating red tape that makes it more difficult to do what's needed to do on the ground, right? So I think um you said that really, really well and I just really appreciate that perspective. Um I, I think, you know, and, and this is a huge pivot transition or ac you got something else, you wanna add
Anthony Corsaro - 00:57:24
11 thing to add there, which would be interesting to get y'all's perspective because I'm not a brand operator, right? Like I'm very much in a uh removed macro generalist kind of like role in this space. But Kyle, you're selling the retailers every day, Chris, you and your team are selling the retailers every day and it almost seems like with other certifications, uh it's a binary proxy of trust and, and there's at least a heightened awareness of an, an initial meeting. So let me uh let me unpack that a little bit. Like I think the average consumer knows what NON GMO means when they see it unpack. I think the average consumer knows what USDA organic means. It, it might vary and there might be some nuance there, but they at least recognize that there, there's awareness, there's some sort of meaning we're nowhere near that for Regen with any of the certifications. And so it almost seems like the bottleneck is actually the retailer and the retailer is basically saying we need something that we feel like validates us and the claim that we're making and makes it a little easier on our side because we just know that the, the awareness on the consumer side is not there.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:58:10
So I think that's really an interesting bottleneck because that is flawed. If we design just around the retailer and we don't design for the end consumer, that system is doomed to fail. And we can talk a lot about what Kyle and I are working on in terms of that realm. But that was just a new insight that that whole dialogue brought into my brain of that's not, that's not a long-term solution. I don't think that's gonna work if we, if we design in that, you know, engineering capacity.
Chris Langwallner - 00:58:50
I agree with what you said. Um I absolutely agree. Any certification at the end of the day has to make sense to folks speed the buyer who is also a consumer, but of course, a little bit more educated consumer in average. Um, uh, but it has to make, make, make sense to the to the folk who goes into a whole foods or into a sprouts and it has to make sense there. Absolutely. People need to understand it. But there's also no, no help if then the certificate stamp uh becomes diluted to wrong messaging and there's another one. What does it really do? So um I keep on coming back, we have to make sure that a couple of things here.
Chris Langwallner - 00:59:14
Number one, we have to make sure that regeneration is not being dragged into the green washing space. If we make the mistake to let that happen, then it's um shame on us, shame on all of us who are in that space. Let it not be that way. Let it, let us, let us keep each other honest and let us also call out where PS is, you know, come in and call out where PS is. Uh because the last thing we need is that we exchange the term sustainability for regeneration and then we are in the same bloody green washing space. I would love, I would hate that, to be honest. So, here that's my opinion on that one.
Chris Langwallner - 00:59:49
And then with regards to overall any certification uh needs to make sure that we are doing the right thing, measuring the right thing, what really matters, what does move the needle, you know, having a little bit of an ample sort of a traffic light system on a product today just doesn't make sense. It just doesn't make sense. You know, because they are, they are placed within a category rather than over a diversified tire. So I would, if I could, I would not participate in Singapore, we have to. But uh yeah, so, you know, stepping back, taking uh taking almost back to 40,000 ft sort of view on things and making sure that, ok, now we know what we try to achieve here, what we try to accomplish rather than being the system expert and then just measuring because the system uh tells me I need to measure this. Like, um Ethan me has said a former CTO of Microsoft, we're living in a day and age where specialization is being rewarded, but it comes at a huge cost because more and more people know more and more about less and less and until they know everything about nothing and that's the wrong thing.
Chris Langwallner - 01:00:49
You know, we need to step back and say what is the right thing to do, you know how broad that what is it that we need to do and then start saying OK, for this is this, this, this is this and so forth. Yeah,
Kyle Krull - 01:01:19
I think it's really interesting um the specialization piece in particular. Um But I do want to pivot because I wanna make sure we spend some time on the noodles. And I also want to talk about, you know, what may be coming after the noodles? What does the future hold for? WhatIF Foods um are there new categories of the new crops? Like does it start with trying to find more degraded land in different areas? Is it gonna stay in Africa? Um Sorry, I'll stop there. You're, you're holding
Chris Langwallner - 01:01:45
Kyle Krull - 01:01:48
So for those not
Anthony Corsaro - 01:01:49
watching on video, Chris started counting college questions on his
Kyle Krull - 01:01:51
hands. That's the best way to get me to stop. So great work,
Anthony Corsaro - 01:01:56
Chris, I love that. You did that. Not me. That's great, Kyle. We love you, man. We love you. We love your
Kyle Krull - 01:02:05
ac and I fight over who gets to ask this question? So I gotta try to sneak as many in as I can when I get the opportunity.
Chris Langwallner - 01:02:14
This is so cool. Yeah. So where do we start? We start with noodles. Um Look, this is a fascinating, it's a fascinating category. OK. Um The whole idea was created by me working in a factory that produces about 5 billion portions on an annual basis. 5 billion portions on annual basis. It's a gigantic manufacturing footprint. You go in the visitors gallery, you look down in the production hall and after the 10th of the line, you don't distinguish each team stainless steel after stainless steel. So it was, and I go there and this particular person who showed me uh through the factory told me, uh we are super proud because our noodles only have 17% of vegetable oil in it. Palm oil. And at the same time, I was actually working on palm oil back in Southeast Asia and knowing the sort of um problems it is being associated with, including deforestation, including uh affluent treatment and what have you and community uh resettlements and what have you.
Chris Langwallner - 01:03:05
So I thought godless me. We are in the 21st century and we're using deep frying to dehydrate a product to make it shelf stable uh so that we can actually uh go away with two immigrant Children forms. And I thought there must be a better way of doing this. It cannot be that we, we do that because 80 years ago, it was the right thing to do. And 80 years ago it was all about after the second World War, it was all about making one portion. It calorific plans as we possibly can in order to feed the empty bellies.
Chris Langwallner - 01:03:51
Then deep frying was good because you have a lot of um uh a lot of calories in an order, the refined flour and refined vegetable oils. And here you go, you're done for the day. But for the 21st century, this is probably absolutely the wrong approach, but we are still making use of the very same technology. So I, I came, I got back and I immediately started to ask, so what if we take the deep fryer out? What if, what if we can actually then start looking at a total different production process but also inclusion of other ingredients that otherwise would never survive the harsh conditions in the deep fryer. So if you look at our portfolio in, no, we have the green ones which contain Mara and it could not deep fry them. If you deep fry them, the color will go off. So that is all the, all these questions.
Chris Langwallner - 01:04:37
We all let us into this sort of thinking concept and what have you. So we got started in this project and it was a very, very rough ride. I tell you um making, taking the deep fryer out commercially viable and on a, you know, in a university setting in a pilot plant, you can do it easily, but can you scale it? Can you scale it? So it becomes commercially viable. Uh was a big, big undertaking and quite frank. Um It was the R and D team and I at some point where we sat over dinner um on the table and I said no more money into this project. This is not gonna get us anywhere.
Chris Langwallner - 01:05:11
We, we fail here. And it was literally, we, we were literally sitting on a, on a, on a table and there was tissue paper and, and I looked at the tissue paper and we said, what's the price of this tissue paper? Um Nobody knew what's the cost of the dish but nobody knew. So how the hell are they, are they dehydrating water from this tissue paper? How does the paper pop industry industry? Do it?
Chris Langwallner - 01:05:38
How do they make toilet paper so cheap that we don't even know how much it costs? And and that got us going to think about dehydrating the water away from a dough totally different than, than, than it is currently done using deep frying so fast forward from there. It literally took us just three months after that question. Uh We went to a, a manufacturer fabricator of these sort of machines for the paper industry. Um We learned a ton and we cross learned and cross applied. And uh today we have a technology that we found in the paper industry making all these. Um And to me, it's just cross learning and cross applying. And uh and here we are. So today we have a product. No, it's not fried anymore. It's not deep fried anymore.
Chris Langwallner - 01:06:18
Uh Therefore we had this opportunity because there is no palm oil in the product. It's 20% and we immediately replaced it with uh Barbara Flowers. So the play on the noodles was initially really a deep frying a play. And today we are in much higher inclusions uh in the door and therefore have a high protein content with complex carbohydrates and fibers. So it's a perfect gym, sort of an exercise in fu if you're sick and tired of your protein shake and you want to have after work, something that is savory and something that has a bite and a structure. Um Actually, we have a huge following community uh in the gym space for our instant and uh and, and, and, and here we go. So that is the journey. New products are being launched uh very, very soon. We are building additional capacity.
Chris Langwallner - 01:07:09
As we are speaking, our first capacity is being sold out already. We're building new capacities. We bring more and more products to the market including single serves. Um And uh yeah, and that journey is just really fantastic. Yeah, I'm looking at you profile right
Kyle Krull - 01:07:39
now that you've got on the website and I just want to just share some of this info. So like I'm gonna do WhatIF Foods versus average deep fried instant ramen? It's 300 calories for what if versus 457 17 g of protein versus the 9.36 g of fiber versus 2.77 g of fat versus 18.2. Like the nutritional profile here is outrageous. Um So yeah, I mean, really, really cool. And I love that you guys, like you're trying to solve this problem
Chris Langwallner - 01:08:08
and it just, it tastes like, honestly, honestly,
Kyle Krull - 01:08:15
I believe it. I mean, I assumed as much after the conversation about the coconut oil, it doesn't feel to me like you would ever launch a product that you would not enjoy consuming. Um But I love that you're trying to solve this problem about the dehydration and you found an existing technology that's just in a different industry and applied it to the creative noodles for the first time. I think this is just such a cool way to develop a new product and, and to enter a new category with this new nutritional profile, it's huge. Um So I'm so glad I asked about the noodles. This is, this is great and um well,
Anthony Corsaro - 01:08:46
and I, I want to tip my cap Chris to you because like this is, this is a very uh tech forward company and, and you're bringing technology to these problems, but you're doing it with like such intention and such integrity. And I think there's a lot of bad tech. I, I think going on in our world right now trying to solve problems and I, I love the intention behind a lot of it because I think they're trying to do great things. But like this, this just seems like such an awesome uh mix of, you know, overlaying technology and thinking through things from a scientific perspective. But with that real world ecological knowledge, like blended into it from a model perspective.
Chris Langwallner - 01:09:25
Thank you. I leave it like that because it's really the intention. I um look, we always start to say we need to pivot away from the current system. So you want to innovate against the current system's challenges, right? And noodles is just one example. The milk is the same example. We don't refine, we don't refine. We have a total new production process to the milk, to the, to the milk as well. Um Yeah, and this is, is a heavy lifting though. I tell you today, today, synthetic biology, you can get, get, get a new vector, a new host for a few $100,000. Hey, our investment in the meantime is north of a two digit million dollar investment in everything that we have done because it cost a ton of money to build the capacities for these new processes.
Chris Langwallner - 01:10:02
And the problem is it like this or I don't like to talk about problems. The challenge is this, we have to invest upfront into the back end before we invest the first dollar into the brand because we don't want to generate awareness about the brand and then not being able to deliver on the back end of things. So it is, it's, it's really, really capital intensive what we're doing. And um that's uh that's really the hard part of it. It's not just a marketing gimmick, it's not a marketing story. It is truly, truly system thinking and doing it from the ground up literally uh super capital intensive.
Kyle Krull - 01:10:50
I believe it in that sort of segues nicely into that future. You know, what, what comes next because it's so capital intensive. Do we stick to the same two categories we're in now with the alternative milks and the noodles or are there any other projects right now where you're looking at venturing into a new category um or utilizing a new ingredient, you know what, what does R and D look like? For? What
Chris Langwallner - 01:11:13
Anthony Corsaro - 01:11:14
you can share
Chris Langwallner - 01:11:16
my science brain and my science head tells me, let's bloody launch the next category. Next category, next category that is the entrepreneur in me. But the reality of the fact is that by and large out there in America, how many people know us? A tiny, tiny, tiny, small fraction? So we have a ton to do to bring our existing portfolio to, to folks out here launching right now is just overwhelming everybody. So I have to step back a little bit, hold myself back and say that's still the hard cry that the heavy lifting with our existing categories. However, within the category, you will see pretty soon new ex uh expansions within the category. So we are thinking of, you know, we have three milks today. Um The next one that's gonna come on uh online is gonna be uh the Creamer Space.
Chris Langwallner - 01:11:59
Um then there's gonna be a ready to drink uh solution, particularly thinking of the chain Seas and how they consume the day. Uh On the noodle space, I've already mentioned we're gonna go into single serves. Uh And that flavor profile is probably one more additional color. Those sort of things are all within an existing category that helps us doubling down on the offering that we have. I would love to go into other categories categories. You know, there's, there's so many applications that are wide open, starting from bread into biscuits and going into even the exclusion space. But um that would literally be far too early for now.
Chris Langwallner - 01:12:30
I have to hold myself back and say no, this would be the wrong thing to do from a business point of view. So, but uh yeah, watch the space. Um It's gonna be an exciting 24 with regards to expansion within the category.
Kyle Krull - 01:12:56
I think, you know, with, with my sales hat on, I think remaining in the existing categories is absolutely the right play because not only is it expensive on the back end, like you mentioned earlier, it's also really expensive on the front end as a brand to play in all these different categories. You're buying data for every different category. You're developing relationships with every different category buyer, which means you have more bandwidth from your sales team required versus you know, if you got three alternative milks and you turn that into nine or 10 alternative milks, there's still that one individual, you know, you're managing more skews, there's still more to manage there. Um But from a trade and promotional planning perspective, it's a lot easier to manage than jumping into four or five different categories. At which point your overhead for your sales team is gonna have to increase. So it's, I think it's a really, really good move and I think your brand is very well positioned. WhatIF Foods to be an omni category brand eventually?
Kyle Krull - 01:13:39
But I think you're spot on strategically, like let's focus on doubling down the existing categories, building those doors, developing those relationships and then you know, when the time is right and you get the right next product like maybe jump into that next
Chris Langwallner - 01:14:02
category. Yeah, thank you. I agree.
Anthony Corsaro - 01:14:06
There's a, there's a reason why in CPG they say each new category is like a different business and it's for all those reasons and more that you just listed Kyle. So I, I agree there for sure. Um Chris, we could, we could talk forever, man. I know you've got a flight to catch. So let's, let's take us home with our final question. I'm really, I'm really interested in what your answer is gonna be. Um So the question we asked everyone to wrap every episode with is how do we get Regen brands to have 50% market share by 2050?
Chris Langwallner - 01:14:32
How do we do that? 50% market share. Oh gosh, I would love to be there. Um I'm not prepared for that question. So let me think. Um I think it's possible simply because the effect of climate change is real. We feel it everywhere. I'm here in Arizona and I've shared earlier that uh certain communities have been cut off 80% of the water supplies because of the high concentration of water demand on the Colorado River. Um So, and people, folks feel it. I know if you look at uh what happened in Europe, there's flood, there's fire in places that never happened. Just the days we in the morning, the news and you see it on the news in Hawaii that there are wildfires. So I guess the uh the the the weather situations are really are the alarm bell for all of us. And I don't think, um I don't think that the current industry, particularly retailers can navigate themselves out of being progressive on the simply because I think by 2030 in the US, you have, I think 55 or 56 million gen entering the workspace, the workforce.
Chris Langwallner - 01:15:24
So there are 55 million new voters coming in and the vote, not only casting the vote for, for um a political uh uh uh situation, but they're also casting the vote, the vote with every purchase that they make in the supermarket and they will be leading the change. Um I'm super help. I'm super hopeful and I'm, I know I put a lot of pressure on them but they will, they will start doing the right things. They will help us uh pivot from who we are today to a much better version to our better, better, you know, I think will help us to be a much better version tomorrow than we are today. Um And um and that's how I think we need to look at the, the situation of pivoting it into 50% market share. I think it is possible.
Anthony Corsaro - 01:16:34
Yeah, I agree. Young people, the future, the future people gotta, you gotta help guide, you know, the the problems that have been created by the older people. Uh I could have found a way more elegant way to say that. But yeah, it's, it's very accurate um and
Kyle Krull - 01:16:51
get yourself some slack. It's fine and
Anthony Corsaro - 01:16:54
well, you know, Chris, you, you,
Chris Langwallner - 01:16:57
it is fine because just to build on that for, for, for one sentence if I speak to my parents and it is now they said we did not know and they are right. They did not know. My generation has no excuse. We know. If you keep on doubling down on the old system, you have to look into the, into, into the mirror at one stage and say is that really what I should have done? You know, our generation is the one but then we have, I have two Jn Z's kids if they ask me to purchase something because it's better for the planet. I might, II, I don't have any argument against that. I will certainly do. And this is what change is coming about. I, if I have asked my parents to, to purchase something because I like it. What did they say? It's not the case anymore. They have super about it. Oh, come on. So anyway, so I interrupted you.
Anthony Corsaro - 01:17:44
I said no, you're fine. Um But II I love the way you frame that because I think every answer we've had comes back to the economy or policy, right? And you touch on both of those things, but the way you frame the amount of gen Zs hitting a certain uh being employed um that threshold in 2030 right? That is they have money to spend in the economy and they're of age to vote and like that's, that's the big thing because right now they are very into sustainability. They're very active and, and they're activists on social, but like they don't have as much power to actually create the change, right? It's more just um it's more just conversation right now. And I think people like what if brands like what if that are gonna be in a position to like capture that are are building for the right thing because it's, it's gonna be probably insane honestly when it happens.
Kyle Krull - 01:18:34
Yeah, agreed. Um Chris like Anthony said, we can probably talk for hours. Super appreciate your time. This has been a very enjoyable conversation. I wanna make sure that any listener who wants to find the brand, the website is what if Dash foods dot com? Um So be sure to check it out again. Super, super cool branding, love the packaging for the noodles. The Hexagon is just cool. Um But yeah, man, really appreciate everything you shared. Love the work that you're doing and looking forward to trying what if for the first time and seeing what you guys do in the future.
Chris Langwallner - 01:19:04
Yeah. Thank you so much. Um Absolute pleasure here. I like that. We have discussed this uh very heavy topic about bringing system change about in the agrifood space and all the the unintended consequences that we also talked about. But we spoke about it with a lot of laughter in between and, and, and, and, and the conversation really got us. I hope it also inspires others to take it. Uh Things have sold everything and just look out for the right solutions and, and be the be the regeneration. Don't be, don't be, be it.
Anthony Corsaro - 01:19:34
Hm. A man. Appreciate you, Chris. Thank
Chris Langwallner - 01:19:38
you. Thank you so much. Thanks folks
Anthony Corsaro - 01:19:43
for show notes, episode transcripts and more information on our guests and what we discuss on the show, check out our website Regen dash brands dot com, that is Regen dash brands dot com. You can also find our Regen recaps on the website Regen recaps. Take less than five minutes. To read and cover all the key points of the full hour long conversations. You can check out our youtube channel Regen Brands podcast for all of our episodes with both video and audio. The best way to support our work is to give us a five star rating on your favorite podcast platform. Subscribe to future episodes and share the show with your friends. Thanks for tuning in to The ReGen Brands Podcast brought to you by the Regen Coalition and Outlaw Ventures.
Anthony Corsaro - 01:20:12
We hope you learned something new in this episode and it empowers you to use your voice, your time and your dollars to help us build a better and more regenerative food system. Love you guys.
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