When it comes to building a mission-driven brand, Seth Goldman is a seasoned professional. From Honest Tea to Beyond Meat, PLNT Burger and Eat the Change, Seth’s passion for healthy, tasty and environmentally and socially responsible food shines through every venture he is a part of.
With Seth being a longtime advisor to S2G, the chair of the board of our portfolio company Beyond Meat and an inspirational industry leader, we are proud to announce our investment in Seth’s most recent venture, Eat the Change, a company creating chef-crafted, nutrient-dense snacks that are kind to the planet. We had the privilege of hearing from Seth about Honest Tea, Eat the Change and his excitement for and commitment to plant-based foods at the S2G Summit. Here are some clips from the event as well as a little more about the company and his story.
It all started with a visit to a fourth-generation organic mushroom farmer in Kennet Square, PA. Seth and his PLNT Burger collaborator and celebrity chef Evangelos Spiros (“Spike”) Mendelsohn were there on an ingredient-sourcing mission for PLNT. While at the farm, they learned about the production of yellow oyster mushrooms and how their fruiting bodies, which are normally composted, can serve as a great meat substitute.
Seth and Spike left invigorated about the possibilities of mushrooms as a blank canvas for unique flavor combinations, and the pair began to explore what other foods they could create. They also realized that one of PLNT Burger’s marketing slogans, “Eat the change you wish to see in the world,” would serve as a perfect brand name for a mission-driven food company. It didn’t take long for them to create Eat the Change, which aims to meet consumers' interest in healthier, more environmentally conscious food options that don’t compromise on taste or quality.
Eat the Change is developing products in three main categories; plant-based jerky, fruit and vegetable-based snacks, and organic bottled tea. Its first plant-based jerky product is a mushroom jerky made from minimally processed whole food ingredients, sourced from the mushroom farm in Pennsylvania that initially inspired the creation of the company. Eat the Change is also ensuring that the bruised or oversized mushrooms and stems that might normally be discarded are instead incorporated into the jerky to reduce food waste.
Cosmic Carrot Chews
The company’s first fruit and vegetable-based snack is the cosmic carrot chew, a product that is intended to replace chewy kid's fruit snacks that usually contain no fruit and are packed with sugar and artificial flavoring. The idea for the carrot chew came when Spike was working on R&D for a carrot chip product and was sent the wrong type of carrots. Not wanting the mistake to result in food waste, he marinated and hydrated the carrots which produced a chewy texture instead of a crisp chip. When he brought the results of this experiment home for his son to taste he immediately loved them and the carrot chew was born. The snack is sweetened with natural fruit juice, contains only 60 calories per serving and provides one serving of carrots per pouch.
Just Ice Tea
And now to the tea. Organic bottled tea is what first launched Seth into the health and planet-friendly food sector with his brand Honest Tea. But it’s one thing to start a company, and another to turn a rejection into an opportunity. When Seth learned that Coca-Cola was going to discontinue his Honest Tea brand, he received an upswelling of messages from retailers, suppliers and co-manufacturers interested in filling the gap in the organic bottled tea market that Honest Tea’s discontinuation would leave behind. Seth also felt he couldn’t abandon the farmers around the world that he had partnered with to produce the fair-trade ingredients for the company.
And so just two days after Coca-Cola made its decision, Seth was already working with Barry Nalebuff, an advisor to Eat the Change and co-founder of Honest Tea, on a new brand of teas. These teas will be produced and sold through Eat the Change that will continue to support the Fair Trade Economy while providing the healthy organic teas that consumers are looking for. The name “Just Ice Tea” was chosen to represent the continued commitment to the rigorous environmental and labor standards that were behind Honest Tea and that Eat the Change continues to stand for. Just Ice Tea will be available in six flavors at a number of major retailers this October.
The $14.5 million seed round is a testament to Seth’s wealth of experience and knowledge in the sector. The round was led by Collaborative Fund with participation from S2G along with a combination of Honest Tea stakeholders, distributors and suppliers and will be used to set up and scale up production and commit to major purchases of bottles, caps, tea and ingredients.
It is a pleasure to work with Seth as he continues to push the envelope in developing delicious food products that customers can truly feel good about.