Perspectives from Liz Fisher, CEO and Founder of Lavva
At S2G, it's our mission to back trailblazing entrepreneurs who are working to build a healthier and more sustainable food system. Entrepreneurs are on the frontlines every day, working hard to innovate and bring new products to market to meet the consumers changing needs. It’s our goal to support them in their journey.
We recently sat down with Liz Fisher, CEO and founder of Lavva, to discuss her thoughts on health and the future of food. Lavva is the first brand to bring pili nuts into the U.S as an ingredient for yogurt and milk. Pili nuts are a true superfood, a complete protein and contain all eight essential amino acids. They are also rich in magnesium and vitamin E as well as nourishing plant fats, especially monounsaturated fats known to support heart health and brain function. Lavva’s original products include Lavva yogurt, a Paleo certified cultured superfood and Molten Lavva, a new keto certified vegan yogurt. Lavva recently launched Lavva Plant Milks, a great tasting and nourishing plant-based milk made with only 3 ingredients.
Liz, we love the Lavva story – can you share where the inspiration for the product came from?
I was fighting a personal battle with ovarian cancer – one that lasted seven years. During my second round of chemotherapy, my husband, who was my primary caretaker at the time, felt the science was there to support putting me in a ketogenic state as part of my therapy.
After doing some research, I decided to go from a very low-fat diet to a diet with 70-80% of my calories coming from fat-based sources. I was eating a ton of high-fat foods like avocado and macadamia nuts, but quickly grew tired of some things – the macadamia nut, in particular, has a very distinct taste that I could no longer stomach. It was around this time that I discovered the pili nut, which had a creamier taste. I experimented a bit, and as I transformed it into a yogurt-like substance, I knew it was special.
Lavva is a delicious, plant-based superfood. How are you redefining the health and wellness category?
The food industry (including fast food) has trained Americans’ taste buds to crave and normalize a high sugar, highly processed diet -- in fact, a diet that contributes to sugar and calorie-craving behavior. The current medical thought is excessive sugar is linked to metabolic diseases, including diabetes, obesity and even aging itself. And it’s no wonder -- leading yogurt brands may contain as much as 19g of added sugar, and one of the most popular chocolate milk brands contains 15g of added sugar and 30 grams of total carbs per serving. Most products today use excessive amounts of sugar to trick the consumer. For an average-sized woman, new guidelines suggest an intake of less than 25 grams of added sugar per day.
Good plant fats also play a role in how our bodies convert carbohydrates to glucose and make energy. This metabolic process is called Glycemic Load. In fact, excess protein intake will convert to sugar in the body. The combination of no added sugar plus good plant fats with moderate protein makes Lavva Plant Milks, the perfect sip for the whole family.
We all aspire to live longer, more active and healthier lives. Nutrition plays an important role in that aspiration. In Blue Zones, where people live much longer than the rest of the world, sugar is eaten sparingly, and it’s usually naturally occurring from the food itself, not as an added inexpensive addictive processing agent. Lavva’s products are a testament that nature is sweet enough.
The Covid pandemic has changed the food system and consumers habits in so many ways. What is your take on how consumer behaviors are changing and what food innovations will be important in the future?
I think the connection between immune health and food has heightened dramatically during the past 5 months. How that plays out in the marketplace still needs to be determined but my bet is on the consumer who is looking for nourishing and delicious options. not going to settle for empty calories.
We received a consumer response the other day to our newsletter that read Lavva is “the best, most conscious product ever produced in my 80 years of life.” I must say, it took my breath away.
Lavva has received quite a bit of recognition this year - from the World Economic Forum and recently from SPINS as a plant-based trend to watch. What new innovations can we expect to see from the company?
We just launched Lavva Plant Milks, made with pili nuts, this week exclusively in Whole Foods nationwide. Rush out now and buy some, I know you will love it. Next month, we add Lavva Plant Creamer. The line is made with minimal ingredients, and everything is whole foods. It’s perfect for your coffee in the morning or for a filling afternoon coffee drink. In fact, the Unsweetened Lavva Plant Milk has only three ingredients: organic coconut water, filtered water, and pili nuts. It is the fatty acid profile of the pili nut makes for a deliciously creamy product. We don’t need to add unhealthy seed oils or gums.
I hate being “tricked” by food labels, and I wanted to offer a product that was uplifting with no processing compromises. Something completely transparent and refreshingly creamy you can enjoy at breakfast, lunch, dinner or at an afternoon break. We started with no added sugar, and then we leaned into the superior nutritional and taste profile of the pili nut to make our new Lavva Plant Milk line. In our Chocolate Lavva Plant Milk, we use the Unsweetened Milk as a base and add fair cocoa, maca root, and mesquite, plus dates for a beautiful subtle sweetness. Early feedback has been amazingly positive.
At S2G, we are fascinated by the intersection between food and health. We believe that products that have science-backed functional ingredients, are delicious and nutrient dense will continue to gain market share. In our latest report in our Future of Food series, we highlighted our view that consumer mindsets continues to shift from cheap calories to affordable nutrition as consumers are expecting more from their food in response to the pandemic. We look forward to continuing to support entrepreneurs that create better outcomes for human health and well-being.
To get your hands on Lavva’s Plant Milk, go to https://lovvelavva.com/find-lavva/ to find a Whole Food Store near you.