Taste Radio Ep. 78: Koia Co-Founder On How to Tell When You’ve Got a Winner

Episode 78 of BevNET’s Taste Radio podcast features a conversation with triple-threat Chris Hunter: he’s the co-founder of plant-based protein drink brand Koia, the co-owner and operator of Small Town Brewery, the producer of Not Your Father’s Root Beer, and a co-founder of Four Loko. In our interview, Hunter discussed his history of spotting innovative brands and helping them get to their next phase of growth.

Hunter has a knack for finding companies embedded in the cultural zeitgeist, and his talk provides a revealing look at how he determines if a brand has what it takes to succeed and, once involved, how he helps the brand then understand its strengths and weaknesses.

Hunter’s career has evolved and he has grown up, as well: first launching Four Loko as a 20-something, he’s a soon-to-be father of three. In the interview, he discusses how his past and present projects have aligned with his personal development, and how that connection has motivated and inspired his work.

Also included in this episode: A discussion about the FDA’s new guidance regarding peanut allergies and how food brands are reacting, innovating and commercializing within an industry that previously had been focused on increasingly on producing a new class of allergen-free products.

Show notes:

1:11 — Reminders, Upcoming Deadlines — Early registration is ending for NOSH Live and Brewbound Session. Sponsorship opportunities for the events are still available, including the Taste Radio gold package. BevNET’s new Media Kit is now available.

3:48 — Pumpkin Spice Life — It’s the season for everything pumpkin spice. What started with lattes and cookies has become a phenomenon in which entire endcaps are dedicated to pumpkin spice products. The hosts taste some of this year’s offerings.

9:04 — Interview: Chris Hunter, Founder/CEO Koia; Co-Founder, Phusion Projects — In our interview with Hunter we discussed his background in CPG and how he sees the plant-based protein drink category evolving in the coming years.

29:18 — Trendspotter: The FDA Wants More Kids Eating Peanuts — Last month FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a statement regarding a new qualified health claim that early introduction of peanuts to certain high-risk infants may reduce risk of peanut allergy. We discussed the growing crises around peanut allergies, the FDA’s decision to issue the statement and opportunities for kids’ brands to leverage the new guidance in marketing and innovation strategies.

43:55 — Interview — Tim Jarvis and Jason Moore, Shackleton Whisky — Scottish spirits company Whyte and Mackay recently announced the launch of Shackleton Blended Malt. We spoke with Tim Jarvis, an environmental explorer and global brand ambassador for Shackleton Whisky, who in 2013 led an authentic retracing of Shackleton’s journey, and Whyte & Mackay Single Malt Specialist Jason Moore about the new whisky.

52:05 — Elevator Talk: 1 Shot Protein is a brand of shots that contain 24g of clean protein per 3 oz. bottle. We recently caught up with the company’s CMO, Safir Jamal, who visited us at BevNET HQ.

Brands in this episode: Koia, Four Loko, Not Your Father’s, Shackleton Whiskey, Hello Peanut, MyPeanut, 1 Shot Protein.

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