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Building A Defensibly Unique Food Supply Chain

There are many ways to make your food company defensibly unique. This can include building an innovative brand that speaks to consumers that weren’t being spoken to before and stands out in its category or categories. This could mean developing a proprietary technology or process that allows you to make truly unique products. This could mean sourcing unique ingredients from a known and understood supply chain.

However, what if the supply chain didn’t already exist? Could you build a supply chain that is defensibly unique? If you have a region with the best milk for the best cheese or whey, and you create a product that can get those unique experiences in front of consumers, your provenance can be part of your unique positioning. However, building a supply chain that wasn’t there or reconfiguring it to make it work for your product and processes is extremely difficult, to say the least. For example, sourcing from unique places and processes can create high costs for your food brand and create supply issues if not managed properly. But, because you had to build it, you have a part of your food brand that other businesses can’t compete with, at least not right away.

On our podcast this week, we interviewed Daniel Kurzrock, co-founder and Chief Grain Officer of ReGrained. ReGrained is a national brand of bars and ready-to-eat snacks made from the high-protein and high-fiber flour of “spent” grains used in the beer brewing process. They have had to develop shared-value with brewers as part of their business model to manage a more complex supply chain profitably and reliably commit to the output from the breweries. They have both a process and product that are unique in today’s marketplace as they are building these relationships and their own capacity to fully leverage them.

Note: Building a defensibly unique supply chain doesn’t mean that the food business can neglect the tried and true lessons of new product development or being responsive to new opportunities. Realistic assumptions also need to be made about whether the product resonates with consumers. These assumptions can be validated through formal or informal market research, including having a minimum viable product that is demoed and tested in a limited way with real customers.

ReGrained’s core products are bars, for now. Since the bar category is crowded and competitive, it was a learning process educate the consumer and get them to try ReGrained’s products. They are planning to generate new lines of business by making other products using their proprietary process and are starting to work as a co-packer for other brands who want to upcycle grain. In short, they are developing other opportunities to grow even as their bars are finding success in the marketplace.

Building markets and the supply chain relationships necessary to support them requires a long-term vision that aligns consumers, suppliers, funders and food companies. But, if it is properly built and capitalized, it can lead to a defensibly unique business model that allows that food company to be built to last.


And now, our roundup of the best food and beverage finance news, events and resources from around the web…

Food and Beverage Business Models

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Raising Capital

Grocery Store Shopping

CPG/National Brands

  1. It proves product/market fit. A brand learns if its value proposition resonates with its consumers.
  2. It allows for fast failure. A brand can experiment with placement, pricing, promotion, and gain critical insight without taking on significant risk.
  3. The insight gained allows a brand to optimize its go-to-market strategy setting the foundation for scale.
  4. It identifies the pain points and bottlenecks within a brand’s supply chain and order-to-cash process that need to be resolved prior to driving significant growth.
  5. It is what investors want to see. They’re interested in brands that can demonstrate traction with their consumers.”

Grocery Store Produce Section

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