Consumer preferences have transformed over the years, which has heavily impacted the food and beverage industry. These transformations have been built on countless trends and fads. In the past few years, consumers have been more inclined to choose healthier, plant-based food and beverage options that create a positive impact on the environment. This trend has paved a path for plant-based alternatives and the popularity is flourishing. Today, consumers are more health-conscious and truly care about environmental impact. Mark Celmer (Co-founder, and CEO) of BOTANILINE realized the impact food was having not only on the environment, but also on the health of the population. In 2018, he established BOTANILINE with the goal to partner with manufacturers to bring healthier, more sustainable, and allergen-free foods to consumers worldwide. BOTANILINE combines plant-based ingredients and technologies to deliver foods that everyone can eat and feel good about.
Food Science Discovery
BOTANILINE started its journey as a passion project at Buffalo, NY. The teams of co-founders were focused on inventing new food products in a better and efficient way. While working on a healthier alternative for processing sausages, the team of founders discovered the benefits of blending a potato mixture in with the meat to cut the ingredient list in half and create a more sustainable finished product. Mark asserted, “With the elimination of the fillers and chemical processing additives/allergens and addition of a 100% all-natural, plant-based ingredient, a healthier product was born!” Realizing the potential of this idea, the team created a new firm called BOTANILINE where new food science discoveries are made every day.
Mark explains, “Our first innovative technology helps manufacturers create healthier ground proteins that are clean label, lower in salt, and more sustainable by removing a percentage of the meat block and replacing it with a potato-based ingredient.” This innovative approach has placed the company among the game-changers in the food-beverage industry. Several companies and organizations are trying to meet nutritional guidelines to lower salt content in foods for individuals who have dietary restrictions due to health issues (such as those in hospitals and health care facilities).
Furthermore, it has also added an allergen-free peanut butter (Pea-Nutless Butter) which uses a plant-based ingredient instead of peanuts to create an allergen-free product, but also one that is lower in salt, sugar, and also does not compromise taste.
A Healthier Tomorrow
Mark started his career in the healthcare industry as the CEO of various hospitals and healthcare organizations. It is then when he first witnessed the effects of a poor diet on health. He states, “BOTANILINE’s mission to improve worldwide health directly aligns with the big picture goals and ambitions I have worked for throughout my career.” The food one consumes directly impacts your health, and the team is striving to decrease the likelihood of hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and several other conditions and diseases by helping manufacturers create healthier foods using plant-based ingredients. Being the founder of the startup, the roles and responsibilities of Mark included sharing the company’s mission globally. Consequently, he has spent years traveling across the US, Canada, and other parts of the globe to introduce the world to the concept of BOTANILINE’s ground protein technology. “I firmly believe that if people are eating healthier foods, they will live healthier lives,” said Mark.
In 2020, health has been the utmost priority for the population. With the impact of COVID-19, the food industry has also been equally impacted. The world was pushed overnight into virtual space. Meetings and conferences were all done virtually and samples were shipped instead of having an in-person taste test. Mark stated that these virtual calls lacked the in-person experience. He explains, “Nothing can replace the in-person meetings where you can see someone taste a product that only contains 30mg of sodium, for example, and see the shock on their face when it tastes amazing!”
The COVID-19 pandemic has managed to cause economic disruption throughout the industry. Thus, everyone in the manufacturing industry was so busy trying to meet the demand, that many new product launches were postponed. However, there has been an increase in demand for healthier foods now more than ever. “We’re hoping to continue getting the attention of those food manufacturers whose mission aligns with ours,” confirmed Mark.
Creating New Opportunities
The month of March was anticipated to be a huge month for BOTANILINE; however, the lockdown hindered the operations. “I was scheduled to speak at the Clean Label Conference, which we were hoping would open a lot of networking and investor opportunities for us,” asserts Mark. He further adds, “Though, they did an excellent job shifting to virtual, we missed the in-person connections typically made at these types of conferences.” However, the crisis did manage to create new opportunities for the company. Mark emphasized the importance of being prepared with a Plan B when Plan A gets sidetracked. This shift in operations allowed the team to start the creation of some new food technologies and advancements and make some great connections at virtual conferences and food shows.
Another lesson was the importance of technology and knowing how to navigate it. Mark and his team plan to continue to set up introductory meetings virtually going forward because of its convenience and cost effectiveness in regard to limiting travel expenses. Lastly, the biggest takeaway from the crisis was that health is the priority now more than ever.
“We need to be eating foods that can help eliminate those ‘underlying conditions’ that have proven to play a big role in how our body responds when we get sick. BOTANILINE can help achieve that with the creation of lower sodium, clean label, and allergen-free foods” said Mark.
Optimistic for the Future
Mark anticipates that the food industry will continue to shift focus on healthier, clean label, and plant-based alternatives that are most sustainable. Mark is optimistic that the industry will flourish in the coming years. Meanwhile, to deal with the current stress, Mark recommends his peers to go through Jim Collins ‘Good to Great’. “Collins outlines the steps needed to make a good company, great, and the book has given me the fundamental principles needed to succeed,” stated Mark.
Read Full issue: The 10 Prominent Food and Beverage Leaders to Look for in 2021