Probiotics Take the Stage at Institute of Food Technologists Tradeshow in Chicago

Ganeden IFT
Ganeden IFT

Ganeden’s three Probiotic Innovation Jumpstart finalists will pitch their products

to industry experts in Chicago this weekend during IFT.

By Janice Hoppe of Food Drink Magazine

Ganeden is working to cultivate probiotic innovation in the food and beverage industries. Launching an industry-first entrepreneurial program, the probiotic ingredient manufacturer aims to help startups get their consumer-friendly probiotic products on shelves nationwide.

CEO Andy Lefkowitz created Probiotic Innovation Jumpstart, a Shark Tank-type program that invited entrepreneurs, scientists and inventors to submit new probiotic food and beverage ideas that will resonate with consumers and fill a specific need in the marketplace.

Three finalists were chosen to pitch their ideas to a panel of industry experts in Chicago this weekend. The winner will receive $25,000 in support to use GanedenBC30 probiotics in their product, as well as the guidance, assistance and expertise needed to help develop and launch their innovation into the food and beverage industry.

“We believe our finalists represent novel products that will resonate with consumers and fill a specific need in the marketplace, but it was a difficult choice as many entrants met this goal,” Lefkowitz said.

Grab-N-Go Smoothies

Avoke Spoonables was created from two sisters’ needs for natural food that would help their children thrive despite many food allergies. By blending avocado with fruits and vegetables, the sisters had developed wholesome and nutritious meals with the benefits and naturally rich taste from avocado.

Ganeden Daniel karsevarCOO Daniel Karsevar partnered with the sisters to develop the grab-n-go smoothie bowl and launched a beta version at Natural Products Expo East. The company received a NEXTY Award nomination for its innovation. “Each avocado-shaped cup contains a blend of half an avocado, two servings of fruits and vegetables plus one billion CFUs of probiotics,” Karsevar tells Food & Drink International. “The combination provides a healthy product filled with nutrients and digestive support.”

Avoke Spoonables are vegan and never heated – the company uses high-pressure processing instead of preservatives. A crunchy topping of toasted quinoa can be found inside the pit area of the lid to add into the smoothie bowl. “We see Avoke Spoonables as an alternative to yogurt, as a healthy snack or even meal substitute,” Karsevar says.

The company will be launching four flavors in retailers this summer:

  • Ganeden Avoke Packaging Greens and Ginger side final 01Berry Mint – avocado, berries, red beets and a hint of mint
  • Spicy Carrot – avocado, carrot, pineapple and a little chili pepper
  • Greens Ginger – avocado, spinach, kale, pineapple and ginger
  • Coconut Curry – avocado, mango, golden beets, coconut and curry

“We are very excited to have been selected as a finalist as it means that others in the industry see the value of Avoke Spoonables,” Karsevar says. “We believe the recognition will provide greater exposure to our brand and are excited to have Ganeden’s expertise in the functional food/beverage startup space as a probiotic powerhouse.”

Deliciously Dairy-Free

Ganeden Jeanne Petrus Rivera HeadshotJeanne Petrus-Rivera launched Red Lotus Foods in May 2014 with the mission to provide people with spreads, dips and toppings so delicious that they wouldn’t know its free of dairy, or feel like they were giving anything up. “Through the process of recipe testing and investigating the then-available options, we fell upon these cheesy spreads and sour cream-style toppings, and found that this was a definite niche that was not being adequately served,” she tells Food & Drink International.

Red Lotus Foods’ products are made from raw organic cashews and are meant to mimic dairy products like cream cheese and sour cream. The cashews are put through a fermentation process to attain a tangy flavor like cultured dairy. “Aside from the obvious benefit of being a unique and delicious product that customers can add to their daily menus, our products also help people who are transitioning from the Standard American Diet to a healthier plant-based alternative,” Petrus-Rivera says.

The company’s products are available here or regionally in Cleveland, Ohio-based stores and farmer’s markets, as well as in Heinen’s grocery stores in Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh. Its Creamy Cashew Spread is available in three flavors: Roasted Garlic & Herb, Sundried Ganeden Red Lotus Foods Cashew SpreadTomato & Black Garlic and Spirulina Bleu. Red Lotus Foods’ Sour & Creamy topping comes in plain and Spicy Chipotle varieties. The Sweet Cashew Crème offers the sweetness of dates and maple syrup along with coconut milk to serve as a dessert topping.

“Red Lotus Foods has been around for over two years,” Petrus-Rivera says. “During this time we have proven that our product is very well-received by the public in general, not just by vegans or health enthusiasts. We have been successful in introducing new product varieties during this time and each one has been a hit. With financial backing and a unique probiotic ingredient, we can take our business to the next level and attract even more investors to help us to achieve national and even international distribution.”

Protein Balls

Mitzi Dulan is known as America’s Nutrition Expert® and is the team sports nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals. Last year, Dulan made her Ganeden Mitzi Dulan Headshotpopular protein balls for the Royals towards the end of the regular season and two games later they clinched the division for the first time in 30 years.

“The media went crazy about my protein ball story and random people in town who met me said they knew about my snack,” Dolan remembers. “Even the sports radio stations were talking about my protein balls. In baseball we are superstitious, so I kept making the same protein ball recipe for the players throughout the playoffs and then the World Series, and we ended up becoming the 2015 MLB World Champions.”

What was known as Mitzi’s Protein Balls are now simplyFUEL protein balls. The non-GMO protein balls are made with simple, high-quality ingredients. The three flavors include different combinations of organic peanut butter, oats, organic coconut, non-GMO whey protein, honey, premium chocolate chips, almonds, dried tart cherries and GanedenBC30 probiotics. “A serving contains six grams of high-quality protein and delivers a full does of one billion CFU, which allows simplyFUEL to make all the GanedenBC30 product claims,” Dulan says. “simplyFUEL protein ball benefits include energy, satiety, while supporting digestive and immune health in addition to improved protein utilization.”

Ganeden Simply FuelsimplyFUEL protein balls can be purchased here. If the company wins Ganeden’s program, Dulan plans to take her business to the next level in terms of manufacturing. “In addition to the financial assistance, the business advice and expertise that I would be given would truly be invaluable to my startup,” she adds. “I have been helping other food brands as a nutrition spokesperson for many years and I believe my own PR and nutrition expertise combined with the advice, knowledge and resources that Ganeden provides would create very powerful momentum for simplyFUEL and bringing the product to market.”

The three companies will be presenting their probiotic food idea in-person in Chicago on Saturday to a panel of industry experts. The winning concept will be announced at Ganeden’s IFT booth #2148 on Sunday.

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Daniel Karsevar, Founder & Chief Problem Solver at

& is also a Mentor at The Brooklyn FoodWorks and Advisor to many CPG brands.

SOLUTIONTOPIA provides turn-key solutions, product development, and operational scaling solutions for food start-ups in the natural foods CPG space.