Qina is a word in Quechua language that means give. For this purpose, LiveKuna was founded six years ago in Ecuador. “We want to provide health, nutrition and employment to farmers; To protect good products and good eating habits for consumers ”, explains Carlos Gutares, president and co-founder Livekuna .
In an interview with Businessman The entrepreneur states that it was in 2013, when together with his partner Santiago Stacey, now co-founder and CEO of LiveKuna, he discovered a business opportunity from Canada. “We analyze changes in habits and trends in consumers, we saw a surge in consumption of super foods and we could not find a brand that reflected that concept of nutrition and health,” he recalls.
A year later he launched LiveKuna, an integrated integrated superfood company that works directly with Ecuadorian farmers to create healthy foods distributed and marketed from Ecuador in Canada. They started with snacks made from chia, a seed high in fiber, a of omega 3, antioxidants and micronutrients such as calcium and iron.
99% of the production of this seed was exported to the Andean country and entrepreneurs wanted to return it to its origin. “We were pioneers in Ecuador while establishing the concept with Chia. There was no superfood issue, there was no culture about Chia and they also placed us next to the grain, it was a challenge to educate them about the benefits, but in the same year we increased the category by 800%, a With over a million dollars ”recalls Carlos.
Then, he realized that the consumer was demanding more and began to innovate to give additional value to other seeds such as quinoa and moringa leaves, the Aztec’s ancestral superfoods, or Muay civilizations, allowing him to make grains, pasta, snacks and other Developed.
The products were well accepted and consumers began asking for gluten-free ones, such as flour, which, among others, made the company from quinoa, bananas.
Carlos Gutierrez and Santiago Stacey, co-founders of LiveCuna. Photo courtesy.
Mexico, potential market
This startup was born together in Ecuador and Canada. Prior to its founding, entrepreneurs used to attend the Expo West Natural Food Fair every year, where they showcased their products and avoided market trends.
It was there that he discovered an interest in the distribution of products in Mexico. They joined it two years ago through Super Naturalista, a small retail chain focused on natural and healthy products.
Mexico is a country where Carlos lived for four years of his childhood. Upon his return, as an adult, he reiterated the ever-increasing pursuit of Mexican culture and consumers to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Mexico is the country with the highest rate of childhood obesity in the world. The figures are so alarming that the Mexican government is already demanding more and more conditions from food companies to reduce their consumption of sugar, fat and lactose in children and adults, and thus reduce their risk of cancer, high blood pressure and obesity. To prevent the development of diseases.
This is precisely the mission of LiveKuna: to provide society with health and innovation through its products, which naturally help to increase the safety of the body. In fact, many studies recommend the consumption of superfoods such as chia, quinoa and moringa to strengthen the immune system and slow aging.
It is important to note that LiveKuna’s broad portfolio of products does not include preservatives, flavorings, or harmful chemicals. Everything is made from a healthy combination of 100% natural products.
Innovation and sustainability
But LiveKuna aims to lead a healthy life through the best foods. A startup strives to improve people’s lives no matter how big or small it is. “Every day we have the opportunity to improve someone’s life,” emphasizes Carlos.
Livkuna has revolutionized the food sector with social and environmental responsibility, fair prices for its producers and nutritional ethics to its consumers in countries such as the United States, Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, Panama and Ecuador where the company has a presence .
Carlos explains, “Our business concept is to reduce processed and if processed into snacks or cereals, make it as healthy as possible, reducing unhealthy fats, oils, sugars or salt”. And it gives an example of one of its most innovative products: kuna pops, snacks made from five completely natural ingredients: rice flour, quinoa, chia, sunflower oil and spices such as tomatoes, cheese or chillies.
“Mexico has a seal on our products [warning of excess calories in processed foods] Carlos says, “We want to keep working, but to educate the consumer is to challenge mass consumption.”
Currently LiveKuna in Mexico is distributed across Super Naturalista at e-commerce in Walmart, City Club, Soriana, Amazon and its own online store. The entrepreneur believes that one success is to bet on publicity on social networks, where apart from food, they promote exercise, education and good sleep.
“In Mexico we are going to place bets on the supermarket channel, with Super Naturalista having a presence in 105 stores across the country and grain in CityMarket. By the end of January we expect Walmart.com and Soriana to have grain distribution across the country.
This year Grupo Bimbo chose LiveCuna to participate in its commercial accelerator, Beck Lab, through which it sought to co-create a product portfolio, highlighting two key aspects for the consumer: functionality and traceability.
Photo: Courtesy Livekuna https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/362587
The next step in Mexico is to innovate with national ingredients. “Every market needs its salt. There are very interesting content where we can find a place to innovate ”, says the co-founder of LiveKuna.
Mexico represents 50% of future sales for this Ecuadorian company. Carlos explains, “We are looking at migrating in 2021, but that will depend on how we open the channel.” “The idea is to grow 50% of our sales and penetrate more than 600 points of sale and macro supermarkets to continue innovating with products from the area of snacks, cereals, alternative flour and pasta”.