Yofix plant-based yogurt alternative using zero-waste process
How did you get the idea to Yofix?
My name is Ronen Lavee. I am an agricultural mechanical engineer with lactose intolerance. I returned to Israel after eight years in Asia, and could not find a dairy-free yogurt alternative with good flavor and texture. Amazed by the “Magic of Fermentation”, I experimented with more than 100 fermented formulas based on natural ingredients until I found the “Bio 5 formula”: Oats, Lentils, Sunflower seeds, Sesame and Coconut.
I insisted to create a nutritious, clean yogurt with great taste and succeeded to overcome many challenges by implementing traditional method of fermenting and applied its robust technology to bring it to mass-production for commercial supply for dairy-free yogurt alternatives.
How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
Very difficult. You need to overcome a lot of hurdles to become a successful start-up.
One of them is to finance your first prototype. The way from the idea to your first prototype product is long and difficult, and as you are in a very early stage it is difficult to find investors. After you have a prototype and people can taste the product, then it is already easier to raise funds.
The technological challenge is bounded to hundreds of iterations till you find the right formula.
The bureaucracy needed to start a new company is heavy.
Finding the right people to form your team.
Scaling up your operation from your own kitchen to a Pilot plant and then to a full-scale production facility request a lot of time and money.
Moreover, in order to produce food, you need the right certificates from the Ministry of Health.
Who is your target audience?
We are targeting the growing population that want to reduce their consumption of dairy products: Vegans, Flexitarians, Lactose-intolerants and Health-minded consumers.
Increasingly important to health-minded consumers is the health of the environment, driving them toward sustainable products that leave a minimum footprint. Unfortunately, most of the yogurt alternatives on the market can’t meet dairy yogurt when it comes to taste, texture, and nutrition. Or, to be a good source of protein, calcium and fiber, they compromise organoleptic characteristics. Yofix offers a new-generation yogurt alternative that hits all the marks for flavor, texture, nutrition, and eco-friendliness. It has no added sugars, flavors, colors, or preservatives.
You can find a lot of our target audience in the Millennials and Generation Z age group.
What is the USP of your startup?
Our products are totally Clean-label with a short list of ingredients and have a great taste and texture with a zero-waste production process. The products are based on a unique, clean-label formula made from just a few natural ingredients. It is traditionally fermented and contains live probiotic cultures plus the prebiotic fibers that feed them. The new product line is environmentally friendly and vegan, and leaves a low carbon footprint since there is no use of cow milk and, unlike almond or cashew, does not require a great amount of water. Most importantly, the production process is carefully designed to ensure zero waste. All raw materials utilized in production remain in the final product.
Typically, gums and thickeners are added to dairy-free yogurts to stabilize them, but our Bio 5 formula , together with Yofix’s advanced technology, created similar texture and stability of yogurt, without additives. Moreover, since dairy-free yogurts often lack key vitamins and minerals, fortification is required to match dairy yogurt’s nutritional value.
The ingredients used in our products are simply grains, seeds, fruit and live cultures.
Most dairy alternative yogurts available are high in fat, and use a single base ingredient such as soy, almond, or coconut. They have low amounts of calcium, iron, and fiber. Also, almond and coconut milk are not high in protein, a nutrient in high demand by yogurt consumers. But Yofix’ “Bio 5 formula” contains all these nutrients naturally, without need for fortification.
Can you describe a typical workday of you?
I’m the COO of the company today, responsible for the production and NPD, so every day I am going to factory to ensure our production goes a planned and I am constantly working on new product development. Our CEO, Steve Grun, who joined us a year ago is responsible for all other aspects of the company: General Management, Finance, Sales & Marketing and Legal. So, we are dividing the responsibilities.
Where do you see yourself and your startup Yofix in five years?
Yofix has completed to build its manufacture in October 2018, and started full production of its plant-based yogurt alternatives using zero-waste process. We have launched our products in Israel under the “ONLY.” brand together with the Strauss Group. Yofix will be launched globally in the near future, with primary focus on Western Europe in 2019. The company is currently also developing new plant-based dairy substitutes for yogurt drinks, cream cheese, coffee creamers, milk and even ice cream. Yofix’ proprietary manufacturing technology and formulations are highly flexible and require minimum investment for versatility.
So, in five years from now our product range will be much bigger and we will be selling them across the world.
What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
Surround yourself with the right partners for your company
Be perseverant and with determination
Always stay optimistic.
More information you will find here
Thank you Ronen Lavee for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.