Showing the Brazilian biodiversity to the world through condiments - Meet SoulBrasil Cuisine
Last week we had a chance to sit down with Leticia and Peter Feddersens, the founders of SoulBrasil Cuisine - Brazilian manufacturer and brand of hot sauces, jams, and condiments using all-natural ingredients from across the country, including Amazon rainforest. Their journey so far has been anything but easy - starting from supply chain to perfecting the product recipes, however, thanks to the real Brazilian perseverance today we see their products with European Organic label available for customers in three continents. How did they do it and what's next? Hear their story first!
1. Tell us a little about yourselves and what you were doing before starting SoulBrasil Cuisine.
Before starting our own company, we were both doing completely different things. For roughly 20 years I (Peter) was working in the investment industry and hedge funds, whereas Leticia had her professional career in international trade supporting and promoting Brazilian companies in North American and European markets.
2. How did you come up with the idea to start SoulBrasil Cuisine?
We always had a great passion for food and cooking. Thanks to our careers, as well as friends and family that live in various parts of the world, we got to travel a lot and discover a variety of different cultures and cuisines. Everytime we were travelling, we would visit local restaurants and gourmet stores and would conclude the exact same unfortunate fact - the enormous diversity and richness of Brazilian flavours is unknown and not represented on the global (and even local) food scene. So, we decided to change that by developing food products with true Brazilian flavours by using diverse fruits, berries and herbs from various areas across Brazil, including Amazon rainforest. We took a leap, quit our professional careers and started SoulBrasil Cuisine.
3. Tell us a little about the process you needed to go through to develop the product recipes?
We wanted to help people explore a variety of unique Brazilian flavours via products that they are familiar with and know how to use, such as jams, hot sauces and condiments. To start with we hired a professional chef, who's also a friend of ours, to help us understand the food technology and process of food product and recipe development. Then we started testing in our kitchen. We went through several dozens of different ingredient proportion variations to reach the final formula of the recipe that our products have today.
4. What was the main challenge in the early days of SoulBrasil Cuisine?
The beginning wasn't easy and there were many challenges. However, the one that really stands out when we look back was setting up the supply chain. We raised the bar very high in terms of ingredients as we wanted to have very specific local berries and fruits and they needed to be organically-certified. In Brazil, organic produce is not as widely available and popular as it is in Europe, so it formed a challenge.
Secondly, here the majority of business processes are not digitised and business culture is largely based on personal networks and word-of-mouth, so it took us more than a year to find the right suppliers, get in touch with them and establish trustworthy relationships.
5. What are the values of SoulBrasil Cuisine and what does it stand for?
SoulBrasil Cuisine stands for sustainability. We know that when we source our ingredients from indigenous tribes and provide farmers with seeds, we provide them with income for living, as well as do our part to protect the Amazon rainforest. It is extremely important for us to do that as a Brazilian company.
Also, another issue that is close to our hearts is transparency. We want to show our customers where their food comes from. In this regard, we are proud to be part of Origens Brasil® (Origins of Brazil) project that with the help of QR code allows our customers to trace back the whole supply chain of our products - from the people who have harvested ingredients to the moment ingredients reach our facilities. Having such QR code on our product packaging helps to tell our story and make people realize that when they buy our product they directly help to preserve Amazon rainforest and indigenous communities living there.
At SoulBrasil Cuisine we take social responsibility seriously and give back to people and organisations in need as much as we can. For instance, we donate 1% of our total sales to a charity organisation, SOS Vida, that fosters vulnerable children in the State of Bahia. Also, we’re proud that 10% of profits generated from sales of our hot sauce with baniwa chili pepper and açaí goes back directly to local communities of our suppliers. And, this is just the beginning – we are working to support more suppliers this way and help them thrive.
6. Where are you today? Tell us more about your company and product assortment.
We started SoulBrasil Cuisine in June 2018 and today we have 3 product lines - hot sauces, fruit spreads (jams) and condiments. Each line has 4 different flavours and the base for products is made of pure Brazilian fruits - acai, guava, mango or acerola. All products are extremely healthy, full of vitamin C, organically-certified and sustainably-sourced. SoulBrasil Cuisine product range stands out by the interesting ingredient mixes, for instance, sweet Guava fruit together with spicy Cumari do Para Pepper or exotic Uba Mango with vanilla-like Fava Tonka bean.
7. What is the achievement you are really proud of at SoulBrasil Cuisine?
We are very proud to have our products certified by European organic label. Honestly, I don't know any other Brazilian brand whose products, consisting of multiple ingredients, are recognized by the EU organic certificate. Also, we are extremely proud of our supply chain that we have today and all the relationships with local suppliers. To get through and achieve both has been extremely difficult and a long process, but we did it.
8. What’s the audience for your product?
Our products are for both everyday consumers, as well as sophisticated foodies. We attract these customer groups each in a different way: everyday consumers are amazed by the depth in our approach when developing the products, whereas foodies see the multiple culinary applications of our products. And, most importantly, both are blown away by the taste and richness of flavours.
9. How do you reach your customers and through which channels do you sell your products?
We mainly focus on retail and haven't really started with foodservice due to our packaging not being perfectly suited for restaurants and cafes yet. Also we sell through our own online store and via Amazon. In Brazil, our market is 70% B2B and 30% B2C. Outside of Brazil, we have two main hubs - American office in Seattle and European HQ in Frankfurt, Germany, which is also our focus export market.
10. What is the challenge that you're facing today?
Being not known is something that we strive to overcome right now as a small brand. We know the uniqueness of our products and that we need to tell our story to a broader audience to get end-consumers' and trade buyers' attention. That's where Vegshelf platform steps in and helps us to get our products in front of retail and foodservice buyers in the European market.
11. What are the next big things in store for SoulBrasil Cuisine?
We have many things coming up, one of which is expanding our assortment into new product lines and flavours. Banana flavour product line is in its final development steps, and then few other true Brazilian flavours that we want to keep as a surprise for now.
12. What’s your advice for other startups that are just embarking on their journey?
Believing in ourselves and maintaining perseverance are the two things that help us greatly during our journey. So, that's also something we want to wish to other startups and food entrepreneurs - to excel in everything you do and persevere even when things get tough and you will start to see the results of your hard work!
Full product assortment of SoulBrasil Cuisine for retail and foodservice buyers can be discovered on Vegshelf B2B platform. To see the product info (e.g. price, MSRP, certification, MOQ, label, delivery terms and other) and inquire directly, register here.