Food tech innovator looking toward growth
Indianapolis-based food tech company True Essence Foods is continuing efforts to scale its proprietary technology and eventually grow into a multi-national corporation. The company has developed two platform technologies that help food and beverage manufacturers produce shelf-stable goods that maintain flavor and minimize spoilage without the use of additives or preservatives.
“We’re building a company that is really focused on redefining flavor for the global good by enabling industrial food processing, to have sustainable solutions in their facilities, [and to take] processed food to a new level,” said True Essence founder and CEO Matt Rubin.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Rubin explained his goal is to not only improve taste and longevity of fresh products, such as fruits, vegetables and juices, but to prompt change in the industrial food complex.
“Somehow in the food industry, we accept significant losses. In some cases, you see over 50% loss before the point of sale from the producer,” said Rubin. “Our current way of feeding the world isn’t sustainable.”
Rubin says 25% of the freshwater supply is used to grow food. A substantial amount of that food, namely fresh produce, is never consumed.
“And that is a very, very, very big loss. In leafy green vegetables, you have an additional half of them that aren’t consumed after the point of purchase. You’re really consuming a small percentage of the food that’s really being produced,” said Rubin.
Sustainability is the driving force behind what True Essence is trying to do, but that can involve numerous levels of food production and delivery.
“When we set out, we looked at food, water, transportation, energy consumption, [and] waste processing. And, we said, ‘how do we how do we create a solution where it has a positive impact across this entire supply chain,’” reflected Rubin.
Inside INdiana Business introduced Rubin in August 2020 when the company closed on a $2.2 million Series A funding round. The company was promoting SoChatti, an artisanal, vegan chocolate. A year later, the company secured $5 million in Series A2 funding. The system that created a sweet treat with a long shelf life is the very basis of what it is doing now.
“We first said, ‘how do we protect the essence of freshness of flavor, fresh nutrients, fresh color in food, and chocolate was our vehicle for innovation,'” said Rubin. “We spent five years heads down in R & D, focusing on how to innovate, and how to how to capture that freshness.”
Rubin says it is not enough just to remove moisture from food. Numerous companies already dehydrate foods. The trick was to dry the product, but not lose the flavor.
“If they’re very proud carrot producers in California, we want them to have the best tasting, most shelf stable, most nutritious carrots they could possibly produce,” explained Rubin. “How do we look at cooking…from a flavor potency perspective, nutrition and a freshness perspective can be just as superior as the fresh supply chain. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of.”
Rubin says the company is currently engaging with than 40 food manufacturers in five countries, including producers of dried fruits and vegetables, concentrated fruit juices, coffee and wine.
“We’re at various stages of either agreements in the research and development phase are already testing samples. In some cases, we actually have systems installed at separate companies and in different states that are currently processing food at industrial levels for customers. It’s the momentum that is really driving our team’s desires to continue to accelerate our growth and that in the investor community’s desires to continue to support,” said Rubin.
Rubin says the company has doubled its footprint on the near east side of downtown Indianapolis as it explores new technology and runs tests on various food products. True Essence has also expanded its staff, even during the economic downturn of the pandemic. It now employs 30 people at its Indy HQ and plans to grow that number to 50 in the next 12-18 months.