Next we spoke to Greg Steltenpohl, CEO of fast-growing beverage brand Califia Farms.
What keeps you awake at night?
I’d say the biggest thing that keeps me awake at night is how to grow the people side of the business. Building a company of great people is obviously the most important thing a true leader can do, as it serves to multiply their positive effect on the success of a business. In a company like Califia Farms that is scaling at such an amazing rate, it’s always about when, and how, to grow the internal capacities to stay ahead of the growth. This, in turn, requires building a culture that supports both people development and the addition of world-class senior talent who can design the organization for the future.
What emerging trends are you tracking?
We're seeing cleaner, simpler aesthetics popping up; products with artisanal looks and positioning – proof that the premiumization revolution is upon us (a movement that we are leading with our almondmilks and cold brew coffee program).
We're also seeing a massive impact by specialty ‘third wave' coffee in natural and conventional retail; it's no longer enough to just carry Starbucks in your store, you need a premium offering as well. The appeal of customizing coffee is something we're excited to be tapping in to: consumers want to create a personalized experience with their drinks over multiple day parts and usage occasions.
Any other thoughts?
It’s gratifying to begin to see the conventional channel embracing our plant-based products with as much enthusiasm as the natural channel.
There’s been a huge rise in almond milk sales and, while it is not mainstreamed yet, the notion of drinking a nut-based milk is no longer an outlier – we think a lot of this is because Califia has delivered an option that is not only healthier but also tastes great. We believe there’s a huge opportunity to expand our offering of plant-based food and beverages in the future.