Marie-Josée Richer co-founded Prana Organic at the age of 24 after returning from a long trip to Asia. Ambitious, this entrepreneur wants to change the world one snack at a time. After winning over the locals, the Montreal-based company, which specializes in non-GMO organic and vegan products, is now making its mark in the United States.
When Marie-Josée Richer and her boyfriend Alon Farber returned from India in 2005, they decided to prepare healthy foods that they distributed themselves in grocery stores. They wanted to create a job in their image and exert a positive influence on future generations. “We had nothing to lose. We didn’t think too much before we started. We just did it, ”recalls Marie-Josée Richer.
The choice of the food sector came naturally to him. “Today everything is digital, but in 100 years we are not going to eat computers. We must awaken the collective conscience and value the hands that nourish us. Food is the basis of life, our essence, ”insists the entrepreneur, who quickly sensed this appetite for healthy food.
To make her brand and her philosophy known, Marie-Josée Richer went to great lengths by working seven days a week and knocking on store doors herself. Today, its products line the shelves of more than 4,000 points of sale in Canada and generate sales of $ 35 million. “We sell more than nuts and snacks, we sell a way of life. “
“We really helped change the landscape of the food supply. Who would have thought that Prana would end up at Costco? I like to encourage independent businesses, but it’s with more volume that you can make a difference. “
SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY: THE HEART OF PRANA
Marie-Josée Richer chooses the products she wants to market – from sliced coconuts to chia seeds and dried bananas – based on three criteria: profitability, impact on the environment and social responsibility. The company also holds a B-Corp certification. This link opens a window., A certificate awarded to socially sustainable organizations.
Initially, the food selection process was more intuitive, but as the business has grown, the stakes have increased. “We are now trying to be rigorous, to consult databases and to follow industry trends while remaining honest with regard to our values”, explains the entrepreneur who admits to learning her profession on the job. .
To improve sustainability, Prana recently commissioned an Organizational Life Cycle Study that assesses the environmental impact of all areas of the business (production, transportation, energy consumption , packaging, etc.). Then an action plan will be developed to fill the gaps. “You can always improve,” says Marie-Josée Richer.
CONQUEST THE UNITED STATES
On her tenth birthday in 2015, Prana crossed the border in hopes of breaking into the US market. To understand her consumers, she made an agreement with a broker in the field. “The competition is strong, and the players are numerous. We make our way, but it’s more of a marathon than a sprint, ”explains Marie-Josée Richer.
At the moment, only 5% of the company’s sales are made at its 2,500 outlets in the United States. Seeing great business opportunities, the entrepreneur believes Prana labels will adorn even more supermarket aisles in the coming year.
Between her life as a mother and that of a growing business leader, Marie-Josée Richer says she feels both overwhelmed and excited. But she is convinced that her job as an entrepreneur allows her to change the world in her own way. “I’m going to be able to say that I left something positive to my children. “
PRANA Organic IN FIGURES
65: the number of employees
4000: the number of points of sale in Canada
2,500: the number of outlets in the United States
35 million: turnover in Canadian dollars
25: the percentage of sales increase in the past year
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
Visit the Prana website
Prana offer almonds
Biting into an almond is a good idea when you’re feeling hungry. But it’s less appetizing when you consider that you’re helping to dry up California, where 80% of the world’s almond production is made.Good news is Prana Organic now offers organic Spanish almonds, purchased from suppliers who irrigate their orchards only with rainwater.
The change will reduce the Saint-Laurent business’s water consumption by the equivalent of 700 Olympic-size swimming pools per year, the company said.
It should be noted that Prana has had the life cycle of its business activities assessed by a specialized external body.
Result: agriculture is responsible for 81% of its ecological footprint, compared to 8% for transporting ingredients, 5% for packaging materials such as sachets, 2% for production activities and 2% for distribution.
The arrival of water-responsible almonds is an effort to reduce the company’s impact on the environment.
We tasted: Prana chocolate bark
Prana, a Canadian company specializing in organic snack products, recently launched a new line of snack foods: chocolate barks.
Made with fair trade, organic and quality ingredients – the chocolate is made from 40% and 62% pure cocoa syrup – the result meets the basic standards of a good chocolate treat, let’s remember. , not a healthy snack as the company suggests.
That being said, it was with interest that I took in the three different bags that were offered to me. Not being a “sweet tooth”, I was seduced by the sweet and savory indication of the packaging and the presence of different nuts in the mixes.
From the outset, my favorite went to the chocolate bark with caramelized nuts (hazelnuts and almonds) and sea salt. Crunchy to perfection, well balanced in terms of sugar and salt and offering generous pieces of nuts, it is in my opinion, the type of product that pleases and satisfies the sweet tooth in two steps, three bites.
Conversely, the one with almonds and sea salt left me perplexed. Yet made up – down to a small amount – of the same ingredients, this version of the bark had too small pieces of almonds and lacked salt to really “burst” in the mouth.
And finally, contrary to what I would have thought, the peels with cranberries, walnuts (almonds, cashews) and seeds (pumpkin and sunflower seeds) left me a little indifferent. I was hoping to find a more pronounced taste of cranberry and a good presence of nuts, but in the end it all gets lost in the sweetness of the chocolate.
My verdict? It is an effective treat for the craving for sweets. Fans of all kinds of chocolate will love it, as will outdoor enthusiasts who will find their dose of energy here.