#SBMadrid19 Interview: Seth Goldman, Co-founder of Honest Tea&Executive President of Beyond Meat

1. Do you think the world is prepared to make a radical transition to a sustainable world model? How far do you think we gotten in making this transition?

Absolutely not. As last year’s UN Climate Report made clear, we are less than 1.5 degrees Celsius (or 12 years, based on the current pace of global warming) from irreversibly erasing our chances to retain a semblance of today’s ecosystems. We have seen some glimmers of opportunity in changing consumer and corporate behavior, but these are sprouts of hope in a forest of despair.

2. When you founded Honest Tea in 1998, how different was the sustainability perspective back then? What have you learned since then?

Twenty one years ago people assumed that if something was more sustainable, it would be more expensive, harder to open and less tasty. Today people are more open-minded, and don’t hold the same negative bias against something that is sustainable. It is still not a driver of purchase intent.

3. How exactly are Honest Tea and Beyond Meat helping in making a positive impact? Do you think that they can serve as role models for disruptive change?

Honest Tea’s first area of impact was around diet. We created a brand that was dramatically less sweet (and caloric) at a time when the market was flooded with supersweet drinks. Then in 1999 we were the first to launch an organic bottled tea, and then in 2003 the first to market a Fair Trade certified bottled tea. Organics have a much lighter foodprint because they avoid using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. We have since expanded the brand to offer less sweet/caloric kids drinks, coffees and lemonades. We have more work to do in reducing the footprint of our packaging.

Beyond Meat also offers a product that has a positive health impact for the consumer – in this case no cholesterol and half the saturated fat, while enabling the consumer to enjoy a satisfying protein-dense meal. In addition, the Beyond Burger has a dramatically lighter environmental foodprint – requires 99% less water, 93% less land and 90% fewer greenhouse gases than a beef burger.

Both Honest Tea and Beyond Meat can serve as role models for disruptive change. They each approach change from two very different directions. Honest Tea embodies the “undoing” of food, which means a focus on transparent, authentic and simple supply chains and recipes. Beyond Meat represents the “re-doing” of food, using science and technology to recreate a category, but doing it with non-GMO, widely known ingredients. There are numerous food and consumer product categories where the same approach can be replicated.

4. What is your personal Moonshot / disruptive idea?

Honest Tea, as a leading edge brand to democratize organics and Beyond Meat as a leading edge brand to democratize plant-based protein. The ideas are already on the market – the moonshot is to make them as widely available as their non-organic or animal-based counterparts!

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