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Dec 8, 2020

Few packaged food brands have an A-list celebrity and one of the industry’s most respected leaders as part of their founding team. That is the case, however, with Once Upon A Farm, a mission-drive company that markets organic, nutrient-rich foods, including cold-pressed fruit and veggie blends, smoothies and dairy-free yogurts. Actor and spokesperson Jennifer Garner and John Foraker, who led Annie’s for nearly 20 years through its sale to General Mills, joined Once Upon A Farm as co-founders in 2017 and have since been on a mission to increase awareness and accessibility of the products to kids and parents across the U.S.

Despite their experience and resources, Garner and Foraker will admit that the past three years have come with some bumps in the road. In particular, they’ll note that they might have been overambitious and expanded the brand’s retail footprint too quickly. Nevertheless, they view missteps as “key learnings” and a chance to improve upon their business strategy while maintaining a focus on Once Upon A Farm’s core mission and values.

In the following interview, Garner and Foraker spoke about how they got involved with the company, identifying roles and responsibilities that would make best use of their time and skill sets and their approach to disrupting a legacy category. They also discussed the importance of making the brand available beyond the coasts, innovating and validating new product concepts and why they believe that “everything starts with the consumer.” Lastly, they spoke about Once Upon A Farm’s evolving relationship with the non-profit organization Save The Children and the company’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Show notes: 

0:38: Interview: Jennifer Garner and John Foraker, Co-Founders, Once Upon A Farm -- Taste Radio editor Ray Latif and NOSH editor Carol Ortenberg spoke with Garner and Foraker about their motivations to join Once Upon A Farm and why Garner compares her success in the film industry to that of consumer products. They also discussed the impact of “talking the talk,” the evolution of the company’s strategy for winning over retail buyers, merchandising and communicating the brand attributes to consumers has evolved in recent years and why they introduced a line of WIC-certified products. Later, they explained the process for new product development, the introduction of a new sweet potato pie blend and its connection to Save The Children, the importance of staying on mission while being flexible with business strategy and how the company is supporting BIPOC-owned brands through its Entrepreneur Ally initiative.

Brands in this episode: Once Upon A Farm, Annie’s, Partake Foods, A Dozen Cousins, Pipsnacks