Circular Economy of Food Challenge SPECIAL MENTION

Feitosa Foodtech

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Feitosa Foodtech

Porto Alegre, Brazil

We are an innovative food tech that develops products based on bananas out of “tradicional” market standards. Our goal is to offer creative, healthy, tasty and sustainable food, generating a positive impact for the entire chain involved, from the farmer to the consumer.

About Feitosa

In late 2016, Chef Fabricio Goulart, owner of Feitosa Foodtruck, created a banana-based sauce for his hamburger and poutine recipes. He was inspired by the creative examples he came across while working and traveling in Canada and Thailand. He kept asking himself which single ingredient could provide him several applications, such as sauces, juices, teas, cookies, dehydrated fruits, etc. He also realized it had to be something affordable, abundant and very related to the Brazilian culinary. Meanwhile the idea just popped up in his head “ Yes! We have bananas”, and It became a success on the food truck menu. He stuck to the idea of ​​developing a sustainable and healthy product, so he turned the banana not only in one but into several delicious sauces, using only his creativity and his mixer, at his home kitchen.

From that moment, he founded the Feitosa Gourmet and opened a line of sauces based on ripe bananas. He signed up for the Shark Tank where, even without earning the investments, he became known and managed to get his product ready to be sold on the food market. In the beginning, there were 9 flavors, but in order to have a better commercial approach, he launched only 5 of them. All made from overripe bananas, outside the commercial standard, that would go to the garbage. In 2018, Feitosa improved its visual identity, and intensified its purpose of reducing waste, using 100% ripe and organic bananas. It also became clear the importance of focusing on local products, recyclable packing and development of a program to foster better farming techniques among the banana growers by the use of Syntropic Agriculture. To embrace this new model that involves innovation from the forest to the plate, Feitosa Foodtech was created with a multidisciplinary team focusing not only on the product but on circularity.

The Feitosa Q&A

How do circular economy of food principles help social entrepreneurs grow their businesses and meet their mandate?

The concept of circular economy is central to our mission at Feitosa Foodtech. For instance we have always been concerned in developing a product that would benefit the health of our customers and bring them joy and pleasure as they eat our delicious sauces. Challenge their creativity in trying new recipes and combinations. A product that has positive impact in the whole chain from production to consumption, created from bananas that would go to waste and turning them in to income for the farmers and a healthy sauce free from preservatives for the consumers. Avoiding as much as possible to generate waste during the productive process, using almost 100% of the banana pulp and peel. Thinking how can we shorten the distances, simplify the logistics; choose the more ecofriendly packing possible.

We’ve always known that the linear economy makes no sense, that there was something missing and nature held the answer. Nature has adopted the perfect strategy through the principles that it develops it self always moving towards abundance, accumulating energy and fertility, creating over time the condition for more complex forms of life to flourish, being really sustainable. Thus the way our farmers grow the bananas we use is extremely important to us. The systems where the bananas grow need to be much more then organic they need to be creating abundance, they need to be regenerative, that’s where Syntropic Agriculture plays a role in our strategy.

So for us the concept of circular economy of food means how can we grown a crop, turn it into a healthy product (preferably if we use something that was destined to become waste) and market it to consumers, having a positive balance of energy at the end of the process, improving the whole system so the next cycle can happened in even better conditions of fertility and abundance (socially, economically and environmentally) than previous cycle. The same way, as nature created the perfect conditions for us to exist.

We heard about Circular economy before, some members of our team were more familiar than others, but during the TFF submission period we became more familiar to the term and also realized that the principles we always followed were the same of the circular economy of food.

Our goal is to turn what would become waste into a healthy and tasty food. We use perfectly edible bananas that are outside the commercial standards re-introducing them into the market by processing and turning them into several different sauces. Thus reducing food waste.

Once food is wasted the resources and energy used to produce it are in a greater part wasted as well. So the less waste the food economy or any kind of economy has more efficiently and sustainable it becomes. That moves us close to an economy of abundance.

The greatest challenge we’ve faced has been limited resources to invest in areas such as marketing and sales. It is a completely new product here in Brazil and many other countries unheard of, so there is need to position it into the market and present it properly for the customers, make people curious about tasting it. We are very confident on the quality of the sauces we developed and the story we have to tell about it that once customers do taste it and hear about the positive chain behind it, there is no doubt they will fall in love for our banana sauces.

We strongly believe in the high quality of our sauces and in how beneficial the ideas we are proposing are for the whole supply chain. However our communication is still very limited when it comes to sharing our story, our goals and the problems we are attempting to solve. We were not able to reach a lot of people yet, but we did some actions that included lectures, conversation circles and social media. Even though the public we reached was limited, the feedback we did receive was highly receptive and the responses were incredibly positive.

The greatest challenges we face are climate change, seasonality, storage and farming practices. Those factors make it challenging to have the all ingredients we need at the same time and ready for production.

The huge variations we have in the microclimate of our region, that can happen in one week or even in one day going from cold or moderate to extremely hot due to climate change, affects the ripening process of the banana making it too quick our too slow instead of constant as it used to be in our region. 

The seasonality of our ingredients such as zucchinis, peppers, chilies, onions demands a lot of coordination to prevent the need to bring ingredients from others parts of Brazil, which can be quite distant.

Adequate storage during transportation and post harvest also limit our capability of keeping products for longer periods, which would help to reduce the effects of seasonality considerably.

We are able to produce our sauces with organic ingredients, however an organic certification does not mean the farming techniques used are regenerative, in many cases it is not the case. Many organic farmers simply migrate from using chemical fertilizer and defensives, to organic ones but remain dependent on external inputs that are expensive and not local in many cases, rather then working with natural processes leading to soil fertility and freedom from external inputs.

One of our biggest challenges is right at the base of our production chain, which is the farming techniques used for the vast majority of farmers in Brazil and all over world, whether they are organic or not. It is not easy task to show farmers how the farming techniques humanity has being using for centuries have been leading to the degradation of soil, climate change, etc; and at the same time keep their mind open to the solutions we bring. 

For the last 5 years, we have experimented with Syntropic Agriculture with amazing results. It is a farming system that integrates the production of annual plants and herbs with perennial trees, mimicking the way that natural forest systems work and bringing its principles for food production. We have seen in the field for instance: soil formation, increase in fertility, increase the resilience of the system and its biodiversity, more capacity to retain humidity in the soil, increase in organic matter levels, among other ecological services. All these using natural processes rather than external inputs. Our team has experts in Syntropic Agriculture and our plan is to develop a capacity building program in order to help farmers transition into a real regenerative agriculture which, in the process of producing food, restores degraded ecosystems. As a Brazilian company we are very concerned with conservation as we see the urgent need to stop destroying our forests, coastlines and other ecosystems. In such systems, it is possible to grow everything, from vegetables, roots, herbs, fruits, grains to timber. The development of machines capable of accomplishing the tasks demanded in Syntropic Agriculture play also a major role in the acceptance of new techniques by farmers, which is something we are also involved in. 

Another challenge is for us to adapt to the factories in which we process our products, minimum and maximum orders. From the options that are in an acceptable range from us we have cases that their minimum order is too big for the quantities we need and others that their maximum production capacity is too low. A challenge, that a more consistent commercialization can help to solve.

At the moment we opt for using a glass jar and metal lid, making our packaging 100% recyclable. We also use cardboard boxes to transport then, which are also recyclable and certified. The entire packaging process is done at the factory, where the surplus material is destined for selective waste collection. 

Our team has being discussing the packaging lately, we believe the above-mentioned solution is the more sustainable we could find for now. However it does not seen for us the most attractive packaging for a ketchup and the others sauces we created from the consumers perspective. For instance, a squeeze type container, that we could explore different shapes and colors could turn our product much more attractive, once it is in a shelf. It would also be more familiar for consumers that are used to squeeze containers for ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard. Our doubt is if we go for this second option, is it possible to avoid a plastic container?

There is need to make more research to determine more conclusively how changes on the price affect the demand of our sauces. 

Due to the uniqueness of our products we would say we have some elasticity to our price we also do not have any similar products in Brazil. On the other hand the product is so innovative that people can hesitate to buy if there is no strong effort put on making it known.

There is no doubt that there are people accepting to pay a premium for the “circular”. The question is where are these people? We believe these costumers are found in more mature “markets” when it comes to understanding the value of upcycling, circular economy, ecological and environmental services like Europe and the US. In markets like Brazil these concepts are very new almost unheard of for the vast majority of the population. In this kind of market it would make a difference for a very small segment of the market share, the top one that has more access to information.

Yes, we came across other projects that would benefit from the same circular principles. For example, “400g” they buy fruits and vegetables outside market standards from small growers and assembles boxes to deliver to people’s homes.

Success for us means creating a business that is sustainable economically, socially and environmentally while benefiting everyone whether they are involved directly or indirectly. To the extent that, as the business grows and gets stronger, the whole chain grows and gets stronger to the point that it extrapolates to the surrounding environment/community. 

Here we again take nature as our inspiration at each step our idea takes in the “natural succession of a business” it creates more abundance and fertility for the whole system and for the new ideas that are yet to come.

Team Members

Fabricio Goulart

CEO and Founder

Mauro Weber Rosito

Syntropic Agriculture/Agroforestry Expert

Lara Correa Ely

Storytelling and Sustainability Specialist

Raquel Boehl

Nutrition and Healthy Coordinator

Ilan Upfal

Environmental Design and Sustainability Consultant