Pivot Bio launches snack brand to connect consumers with farmers, meet sustainability demand
Ag company Pivot Bio has launched Connect, a new line of snack foods grown by farmers using Pivot Bio’s microbial nitrogen instead of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers.
John Henkhaus, business development and innovation strategy lead, says the first snack in the product line is a gourmet yellow butterfly popcorn kernel grown by Nebraska Farmer Brandon Hunnicutt.
“Popcorn was a natural first step in that direction simply because of how relatively easy it is to go from a grain to a product and then that product has multiple forms— raw kernels, our first product; microwavable popcorn, our next product; and then ready-to-eat down the road,” he says. “And so, it really has this broader food category that really reaches a lot of consumers.”
Microwavable popcorn will be available in the spring and then the ready-to-eat popcorn is expected in multiple flavors in 2023.
He tells Brownfield the brand was created to address demands for sustainable foods and connect consumers with farmers.
“There is a growing demand and movement for foods that are produced in a way that aligns with consumer values,” he says. “…(sustainability) is clearly an important movement in the broader foods phase and farmers are well positioned, especially with our product, to make the biggest difference against the long-term effects of climate change.”
Henkhaus says farmers that grow for Connect are paid a premium for their conservation practices used to grow the crops.
“We recognize that the sustainability benefits are not necessarily something immediately rewarded in the agronomic circumstances that exist today and we felt it was extremely important that farmers are recognized for their contribution,” he says. “We pay them a 100 percent premium on the raw grain that they deliver to our co-packer. That’s essentially twice what they would get from another contract. We really think they’re the ones making the difference and they’re the ones who should benefit so we’re very happy to pay the premium.”
He says the two strategic objectives around Connect are to build awareness around better nitrogen options and to put farmers first.
Pivot Bio says about half of applied synthetic nitrogen never reaches the crop it was intended to fertilize. Instead, it contributes to five percent of greenhouse gas emissions and adversely impacts water quality. The company’s microbial nitrogen offers cleaner nitrogen. Through the launch of Connect, Pivot Bio says it’s bringing food to the market that is sustainably grown with a cleaner fertilizer and raising awareness among consumers about the role of nitrogen in agriculture.
Audio: John Henkhaus