This month, we speak with Todd Beckman, co-founder and president of NextFoods, manufacturer of the GoodBelly line of Probiotic Juice Drinks.
Beckman co-founded NextFoods in 2006 with Steve Demos, a globally recognized organic foods pioneer and founder of WhiteWave Inc. (Silk® Brand). Prior to launching NextFoods, Beckman was an integral part of the success of WhiteWave, where he last served as the senior vice president of strategic planning.
Family Eats: You have been involved in the building of successful brands within the natural foods arena, what drove you to create NextFoods and the GoodBelly line of juice-based probiotic drinks?
Todd Beckman: We called our new company NextFoods, for the next generation of food products – healthy, natural and organic food with a functional edge and scientifically substantiated health benefits. NextFoods adheres to a mission that fosters the continuous improvement of human nutrition while demonstrating the values of “Right Livelihood” for responsible and conscious capitalism. Our team is committed to developing a series of world-class, highly nutritious, functional, “next generation” foods while using sustainable, socially responsible practices whenever possible.
GoodBelly is a delicious probiotic drink that contains live and active probiotic cultures. GoodBelly Probiotic Drinks are always dairy-free, soy-free and vegan. Just right for those of you who experience digestive upset from common food sensitivities and for anybody who loves the refreshing taste of juice.
Family Eats: Why probiotics?
Todd Beckman: Some 15 years ago, interest in probiotics was definitely gaining momentum among the health and wellness consumers. As those early adopters – or the LOHAS consumers – began looking at it, the benefits of probiotics began to work their way through the next round of consumers. As interest in probiotics was gaining traction, Steve and I really began thinking about it. We know that as we age, our digestive systems change and that probiotics are an essential part of digestive health. But what we also found was that there were a lot of younger consumers with digestive disorders, some of which are due to stress and lifestyle.
GoodBelly is the convergence of sustainable food practices and science – just the thing to give us that extra boost we need as we’re trekking along on our personal journeys toward good health and nutrition.
Family Eats: Do consumers still view probiotics as a supplement for older consumers?
Todd Beckman: Because there has been so much more media attention [on] the digestive ailments that may affect younger consumers, the appeal and understanding of probiotics has broadened well beyond the aging population. Due to lifestyle, some 10 to 20 percent of the population has some digestive health issues, and many of those are the younger crowd.
Yet, to reach these younger consumers, we knew that our message – and how we got that message out to the younger consumers – had to be a bit different. We have made great efforts to reach these consumers by implementing more efforts online. We are active in social media, and are using it as an effective way to inform consumers and drive awareness.
Family Eats: What makes GoodBelly different from all the other probiotic offerings out there?
Todd Beckman: There are many strains of probiotics. Our research led us first to a probiotic strain called Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299V®), a probiotic that has over 17 research trials and almost two decades of demonstrated safe and effective use behind it. Unlike many “live and active cultures” found on the market, GoodBelly’s probiotic strain survives the stomach’s acidic environment.
There is a history in Asia and Europe of consumers understanding that yogurt is a cultured product, and can be a probiotic carrier. The introduction of the Dannon Activia product helped drive consumer awareness of probiotics. And as we sought to get into the market, we felt that by creating a juice product, consumers could enjoy a dairy-free way of getting their probiotic boost. There are many consumers who are lactose-intolerant, and a lot of times when someone’s tummy does not feel right, a dairy product is not advised. Instead, they can take a juice that has a real functional benefit, without the dairy.
What was helpful is that Dannon was spending a lot [on] advertising to drive consumer awareness of probiotics in their Activia product. With the introduction of GoodBelly, we could leverage their voice, but with the differentiation.
GoodBelly became the first probiotic juice drink to hit the U.S. market for a generation of people who were poised to take control of their health. And, to date, there is no other probiotic juice on the market that is dairy-free, soy-free, vegan and Non-GMO Project verified.
Family Eats: What are the biggest challenges?
Todd Beckman: The biggest challenge is creating awareness around probiotics and what they can do for one’s overall health; then to drive the trial of the product. From that, our next challenge is helping consumers realize that this isn’t a “take one and you’re done” proposition. Your intestinal lining sheds every seven to 10 days, and when it sheds, bacteria will leave the intestine. A proper probiotic regimen will continually replenish the body and help you feel better.
It takes longer to drive awareness and trial versus adoption. While we are all different, clinical studies around our strain showed that of those who took this strain, some felt the benefits by the third day, but nearly all had experienced a noticeable effect by day 12.
For this reason, we have implemented the 12-Day Challenge, which encourages our customers to continue to take probiotics for 12 days. This will not only allow the consumer to start realizing the benefits, but to continue to take it so that they can receive the full benefits of probiotics. And, to back that up, we offer consumers a money-back guarantee if they don’t feel a difference after the 12-Day Challenge.