With a clear passion for supporting families around the globe, Sprout Organic have created a quality, plant based range for kids. After finding nothing suitable on market shelves, Sel Berdie began creating his own plant based formula. We spoke to Sel this week about the many aspects of plant based diets, from health benefits to sustainability, the vital components to building a successful health brand and the complexities around developing an infant formula.
1. How did Sprout Organic get started?
Sprout came from a desire to wanting to provide my kids the best nutrition I could. I believe this to be organic plant based nutrition and once our first child Ellis had finished his breast feeding journey we like most parents needed to transition to a formula. I thought it would be easy to find a nutritious plant-based formula that we’d feel comfortable feeding to our kids. What seemed like it was going to be a short trip to the supermarket led to a further trip to a health food store, then to a pharmacy, and to eventually looking at every product we could find online to discover that there actually wasn’t an organic plant-based option available — and not just in Australia, but across the globe so we decided to change that.
2. Why did you choose to focus on plant-based food solutions?
In its simplest form plant based foods provide the most inclusive and sustainable foods options for humans and the planet as a whole. In a time where food allergies and animal born diseases are growing at a rapid rate it only makes sense to look at food options that provide wholesome nutrition without leaving a damaging effect on our planet. For this reason Sprout Organic uses 100% plant based ingredients and Organic ingredients whenever possible.
3. As a busy dad, what are some daily rituals you do to maintain your mental and physical health?
I like to exercise at 5am before the rest of the world wakes up to set myself up for the day. As a dad of two and business owner I find this is the only time you get for yourself and is really important to ensure you are looking after your physical and mental health. I train each morning doing martial arts as I find the principles from the practice is the most similar to everyday life where you are forced to problem solve and overcome adversity. If you can get through the craziness that occurs on the mats at 5am you can get through anything life throws at you.
4. Developing a baby formula in Australia is no easy task. Can you talk us through some of the biggest challenges you faced in your product development phase?
You are right that the infant formula industry is the most tightly regulated food product you can develop and rightfully so. My process of development basically started with looking at every single ingredient that was out on the market and how could I replace it with something that was plant based and intolerance friendly so the product was suitable for the majority of infants to consume.
Once I established the ingredients then meeting the nutritional and regulatory requirements was the next step. This involved consulting with leading regulatory officials, Infant Nutrition Council, Doctors, Paediatricians, Dietitians and food technologists to ensure we had ticked every box.
Once we had established all regulatory aspects had been met it was making the product commercially viable along with making the brand as attractive as possible. I fortunately have a marketing agency so we had an established brand look and feel we were able to carry on with. For the previous 4 years during the development of the brand I had established a supply chain and had all ingredients approved for infant formula which included testing for a range of Micros, heavy metals and ingredient purity.
Once the raw ingredients and packaging was secure the fun process of blending and packing occurred giving us the world first infant plant based organic infant formula.
5. What has been your biggest achievement with the brand so far?
For me it was seeing my two sons having different products from the range and enjoying all of them. Although we are known as an infant formula business due to 80% of our sales coming from this product, our goal is to provide kids nutrition right through from infancy through to teenage years. My Sons are 6 and 3 so seeing them consume our range of snack and one having our Junior protein whilst the other having our toddler drink really made me feel like we are on the right path to helping families across the globe to make nutrition easier and healthier.