Soñar! Foods’ organic Grain-Free Tortilla Chips take a classic Latin food staple, but increase the nutrition, cut the empty calories and give back to the community. These organic-certified, nutrient-dense, grain-free tortilla chips were named a finalist in the Best New Mission-Based Product category for the 2020 NEXTY awards.
They are made from garbanzo beans, cassava, hemp, chia, flax and expeller pressed sunflower oil sourced from the Americas. The chips offer 5 g of fiber, 3 g of protein, 0 g of sugar and 8 g of net carbs per serving. It's also certified gluten free, Non-GMO Project verified, and dairy-free. Soñar! is a Latina immigrant owned food company on a mission to empower and nourish a nation of dreamers. 1% of its annual sales goes to the Latino Community Foundation. The company uses drought-tolerant and sustainable ingredients and is on its path to B Corp certification.
In this podcast, Soñar! Foods’ cofounders Maria and Pete Brannan cover the product’s ingredients, formulation and affect on the greater Latinx community. With Sandy Almendarez, content director, Informa, they address:
- The causes Soñar! Foods supports and why
- How the brand chose its specific mix of grain-free ingredients
- The importance of sourcing all the ingredients from the Americas.
The 2020 NEXTY Award winners from Expo West will be revealed live on newhope.com on March 25, 2020 at 2 p.m. MST. Click here for more information.
Sandy Almendarez, content director, Informa Markets: Hi and welcome to a Food & Beverage Insider Podcast. I'm Sandy, and on the phone, I have Maria Brennan and Pete Brennan who are cofounders at Soñar! Foods, Hi. Maria. Hi, Pete.
Maria Brennan, cofounder and CEO, Soñar! Foods: Hi, Sandy. We are so excited to be here today and have the opportunity to tell our story.
Pete Brennan, cofounder, Soñar! Foods: Hi, Sandy. How are you?
Almendarez: Great, thank you. So, we are here to talk about Soñar! Foods organic Grain Free Tortilla Chips, which is a finalist for the Best New Mission-Based Product category for the NEXTY awards. Soñar! offers the only organic-certified, nutrient-dense, grain-free tortilla chip on the market. It's made from garbanzo beans, cassava, hemp, chia, flax and expeller pressed sunflower oil sourced from the Americas. The chips offer 5 g of fiber, 3 g of protein, 0 g of sugar and 8 g of net carbs per serving. It's also certified gluten free, Non-GMO Project verified, and dairy-free. Soñar! is a Latina immigrant owned food company on a mission to empower and nourish a nation of dreamers. 1% of its annual sales goes to the Latino Community Foundation. The company uses drought-tolerant and sustainable ingredients and is on its path to B Corp certification. So, you are a finalist for the NEXTY award for the Best New Mission Based Product, as I mentioned. What causes does Soñar! Foods support and why?
Maria: What “soñar” means is to dream, and like you said, at Soñar!, we're on a mission to nourish a nation of dreamers. I was born in Mexico, and my family immigrated to the U.S. when I was about 5 years old. We ended up settling in the Central Valley of California, and, like most other immigrants, my family and I spent a few summers working out in the fields. I was the first in my family to go to college, and I am very proud to say that I have achieved the American dream, which is why I was heartbroken when my daughters went to their father one night in November 2016 and asked, “Daddy, are they going to send mommy back to Mexico?” They were scared. They'd been hearing all of the negative rhetoric swirling around about the Latino community, and were afraid that I may be sent back to Mexico. That night after putting our girls to bed, Pete and I talked, and we knew we needed to do something. We could use our experience to create a brand that would counter those negatives with positives. At Soñar!, we have our grain-free tortilla chips, which are nutrient dense, and we also support a positive business model. We're using, like you said, garbanzo beans, cassava, chia—all ingredients that contribute to a more nutrient-dense product, and we're providing at least 1% of sales to the Latino Community Foundation in support of their mission to create more vibrant and just communities where all can thrive. As an immigrant, that was really important to us to support the community.
Almendarez: This is a first for me in a podcast. Your story. I'm really feeling really emotional. I mean, that is really incredibly sad that you went through that and I'm so sorry, but your story is so amazing and wonderful. But I will try to move on here. How did the brand land on this specific mix of garbanzo beans, cassava, hemp, protein, chia, flax and the sunflower oil?
Pete: We wanted to develop a free-from chip that actually delivered an abundance of positives, right? We needed these chips to not only have a great taste and texture, but also to deliver positive nutrition and have a positive impact on our food system as a whole. We first made the decision to go organic and, as Maria was mentioning, there's an important factor that I think we all need to take into account when we think about the food that we're making and the food that we're sourcing. As of 2017, 57% of farm workers were Latino and by going organic, we're removing over 700 different chemicals from the growing process, and that's good for our bodies. It's good for our planet, and really, it's good for our farm workers and for our farming communities. By going free from grains, gluten, dairy, sugars, GMOs, we knew that we could address issues that were affecting the Latino community at higher levels than the population as a whole, and issues like diabetes that affect the Latino community at two times the rate of non-Latino U.S. population. And by combining organic garbanzo beans, cassava, hemp, protein, chia and flax, we were able to deliver a more nutrient-dense, organic chip experience that is still light and flaky and crispy, taste great, but also provides 3 g of protein, 5 g of fiber, zero sugars and only 8 grams of net carbs. That's half the carbs of the average grain-free chip. And it took us over 100 attempts or so, and so many different recipe combinations. I'm saying “we” in the “royal we,” as I Maria was probably responsible for a lot of that work, but in the kitchen to land on this ingredient mix. But we're really happy with it, and we're always happy to hear that so many others are liking it too.
Almendarez: I wonder how many chips you actually ate in this process, Maria.
Maria: It was, it was a lot too many to count. And our daughters had to taste a lot of them
Almendarez: Oh, of course.
Pete: They were our sensory panel.
Almendarez: The ingredients you use are sourced from the Americas. Why is that important, and did you face challenges in securing the supply chain?
Maria: As a Latina-owned company, we were wanting to use Latin-inspired ingredients to create our delicious recipes. We prioritize ingredients indigenous to the Americas whenever available, and right now, are all of the ingredients in our base chip are garbanzo beans, cassava, chia, flax, hemp, protein and sunflower oil are sourced from South Central and North America. This allows us to support organic farming as close to home as possible and to deliver a more sustainable product. We were happy to secure our ingredients from top-tier suppliers in our region, and some of which are also woman-owned, minority-owned or employee-owned.
Almendarez: Let's talk about the drought-resistance and sustainable aspect of the ingredients with these. Were there formulation considerations and concerns using these type of ingredients?
Maria: We're very excited that we landed on these nutrient-dense ingredients that most people are familiar with as well. And when we say our brand wants to nourish at every point within the system, that also meant choosing ingredients that have the ability to nourish our bodies while also nourishing the environment. Our ingredients use less water. They’re naturally more pest resistant, have a lower carbon footprint, and they deliver so many other positive qualities tied soil health and beyond. These are super foods that have been valued by the Latin community for generations, and we're proud to combine them in a chip that we all can enjoy.
Almendarez: Great. I want to ask about the certifications next. You've already talked about the importance of the organic certification, but I'm wondering if you could expound on that and as well as the Non-GMO Project certified seal, and also becoming B Corp certified. Why are these important to the brand?
Pete: We call out our partnerships, and wear our certifications as badges of pride and trust. That’s trust that are chips meet the high-standards of verified quality, social and environmental performance required to be USDA organic certified, Non-GMO Project verified, gluten-free certified and more. We're in the process of becoming fully B Corp certified as a further demonstration that we're committed to addressing some of society's most challenging problems in delicious snackable bites. We try to approach our entire brand that way—with a commitment to people, to the community, to profit and the planet. We like to say that we make every Soñar! Organic Grain Free Tortilla Chip delicious, and we make every chip count. In order to do so, we need to hold ourselves accountable to the certifications that we have and the standards that have been set.
Almendarez: Great, well thank you so much for joining me today to talk about your Organic Grain Free Tortilla Chips. I, for one, think they're fabulous. The Salsa Verde was my favorite flavor. I love what your company is doing, and I just applaud you and encourage you to keep going. Again, the company is Soñar! Foods!. They’re a finalist for the Best New Mission-Based Product for the NEXTY Award. Thanks again.