Real food only: Education and price the main hurdles for niche products that are wholesome - vegan start-up Everiday Foods

By Audrey Yow

- Last updated on GMT

Education and price the main hurdles for niche products that are wholesome, say vegan start-up Everiday Foods. © Everiday Foods
Education and price the main hurdles for niche products that are wholesome, say vegan start-up Everiday Foods. © Everiday Foods

Related tags vegan plant-based Ingredients & nutrition

Singapore-based Everiday Foods has identified a gap in the market for clean eating, but the vegan start-up sees educating consumers and justifying the higher prices of wholesome foods as its main challenges.

When asked about the recent Australian study that questioned the nutritional value of plant-based products​, Everiday Foods founder Riyana Rupani clarified that her brand does not market itself as a plant-based start-up even though it is vegan.

“We decided to produce plant-based foods because we want to be all inclusive. Whatever your health conditions or preference, whether you are vegetarian, gluten or lactose intolerant, we want everybody to be able to enjoy our foods,”​ said Rupani, who pointed out that there are no additives, excess sodium or high amounts of unhealthy fats in Everiday’s products.

As for the plant-based products surveyed in the Australian study, she refers to those that try to emulate meat as ‘frankenfoods’, products that were put together in a factory and are not made of natural ingredients.

“It’s wonderful if you want to go plant-based. But eat plants, don't eat foods that were created to look and taste like meat.”

To help customers identify nutritional gaps, Rupani organises a cohort-based online nutrition called the Clean-in-15 Program, which is available five times a year with 20 to 40 participants per cohort. Her key findings point to the importance of educating consumers about food choices, and the benefits of paying more for better dietary choices now than to pay for medical treatment later.

Clean-in-15 Program

The guiding principles behind Everiday Foods reflect Rupani's key findings from the Clean-in-15 Program, which is one of Rupani’s engagement and education efforts. Apart from this, she builds an online community of likeminded people through social media, blog posts and talks.

Participants get recipes and meal plans for 15 days, during which they would share pictures of what they ate, as well as how they felt during the trial. Participants should stick to the ingredients and foods that are allowed and avoid the foods that are not allowed. At the end of 15 days, foods that the participants used to consume before the trial will be re-introduced one at a time, and they will monitor how they feel with each re-introduction.

This will help them identify the kinds of ingredients that are triggering negative effects in their body, such as acne, bloating, or insomnia. They can then make an informed choice of whether they want to keep that food in their diet, and if they do keep it, how are they going to manage the negative symptoms.

Firstly, Rupani found that not everyone pays attention to the labels.

“If you don't understand any of it, your body probably doesn't know how to process it as well, so you're making it work extra hard. Anything that's putting extra stress on your body is going to cause health issues like inflammation, gut microbiome imbalance, and blood sugar dysregulation.”

Secondly, most consume way more omega-6 oils than necessary, which increases the risk of systemic inflammation.

“Vegetable and seed oils are high in Omega-6, which are pro-inflammatory. Omega-3 oils are anti-inflammatory, so our bodies need both types of oils on a one-to-one ratio. To balance out our consumption of omega-6 oils, we need to bring in foods that are rich in omega-3, such as olive oil, algae oil, avocado oil, butter, ghee, and coconut oil. This will reduce the systemic inflammation that chronic diseases are built on.”

Thirdly, there’s a lot of misconception on what’s good or bad for our body.

“Certain food groups are demonised at different points in time. When I was growing up, it was fats. Today, it's carbs. But the truth is our bodies need an appropriate amount of each food group.”

Challenges

Most do not have a sense of urgency that they should adopt clean eating habits. That’s most likely due to the fact that symptoms like joint pain or fatigue tend to strike more often during old age. Furthermore, everyone has a different constitution – negative symptoms, if any, might appear later for some.

Another issue that Everiday Foods faces is its product pricing. At SGD 11 (USD 8) for every 140 g of chilli sauce, it is significantly pricier than other brands.

“I've built a lot of trust with the community, and these customers know that we are not going to compromise on the quality just to bring the cost down. And if you're not eating the best quality food that that you can afford or that you can put in your body, you're going to pay for it later in other ways,”​ said Rupani when asked how she justifies her pricier products.

Future plans

Rupani observed that Asian flavours are big in the US, and the consumers there are more knowledgeable about clean eating. This was why Everiday Foods chose to launch in the US before branching out into Asia.

However, it recognises that the demand for Asian sauces, condiments and sweet spreads is also good in Asia. Furthermore, Rupani had a personal motivation to search for clean wholesome foods that keep the body balanced and healthy after suffering from a bout of health issues in the past. Additionally, she saw a gap in the market that Everiday Foods could fill.

Only shelf-stable ingredients are used, and they can be kept up to a year if stored properly in a cool, dry place.

Its House Chili, for example, includes olive oil, dates, pink salt, and kaffir lime leaves. Other iterations include Sambal, Garlic Chili Oil, and Chilli Crisp, which include Sichuan peppercorn, cloves and cinnamon.

As for its sweet spread, the organic kaya is fibre-rich and contains protein with baked cashews, raw coconut chips, and coconut sugar.

Rupani's inspiration for these recipes stem from a personal motivation to search for clean wholesome foods that keep the body balanced and healthy. Furthermore, she saw a gap in the market in this aspect.

“I don't think there's anyone like us out there,”​ said Everiday Foods founder Riyana Rupani of the vegan start-up, which doesn't use any artificial additives and mass produces for different countries.

Healthier Product Innovation will be taking centre stage at our Growth Asia Summit 2024 this coming July, which will feature insights from a wide range of industry leaders and experts. Don't miss out – register here today!

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