kencko makes it convenient, affordable and sustainable to eat more fruits and vegetables. We help busy people to reach the recommended minimum five daily servings, while also cutting their food waste footprint.
Using advanced food technology, we create delicious, on-the-go plant-based foods designed for maximum nutrition, with minimum waste. We make reaching for nutritious, fiber-rich, real fruits and vegetables just as easy as opening a bag of potato chips or grabbing a soda from the vending machine.
Our instant smoothies, hot lunch bowls and sweet treat gumdrops are all organic and plant based, with no refined sugars or artificial additives. They’re shelf-stable, require minimal prep, and come in compostable packaging.
Tell us about yourself.
I head up the Brand Team at kencko, which means I take the lead on brand and creative strategy, and also manage our internal creative services team. Originally trained as a copywriter, I’ve worked in design and brand agencies and as a consultant to a wide range of corporate and non-profit clients. I joined kencko back in 2018 when we were fewer than 10 people in one room; today we’re over 100 strong and based across the US and Europe. It’s been a really exciting ride!
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Breathe! The path ahead looks steep and uncharted and scary, but you’ll look back in 6 months and wonder why you were so stressed about it.
What problem does your business solve?
Nine out of ten people in the US and Europe don’t reach their recommended minimum intake of five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. People who reach the five-a-day minimum have a lower risk of suffering from many chronic diseases and tend to live longer, healthier lives.
At the same time, 40-50% of all the fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption are wasted on their journey from farm to table. Our freeze-drying processes press ‘pause’ on fresh produce, locking in nutrients and fiber but removing water. This allows us to create shelf-stable fruit and vegetable foods that stay fresh for months. By supplementing their fresh produce with kencko, consumers can reduce their own food waste footprint – we throw away on average 30% of the fresh fruit and veggies we buy.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Our founder, Tomás Froes, got the idea for kencko after suffering from acute gastritis. Doctors prescribed a lifetime regimen of pills, but after switching to a mainly plant-based diet centered around 5-10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, he was able to completely reverse his symptoms and throw away the medication.
He solved one problem, but discovered another: when you’re a busy, on-the-go sort of person it’s really hard to keep enough fresh produce on hand when you need it. He needed to find a way to carry fruits and vegetables in his pocket and there just wasn’t a solution on the market – so he invented one.
What is your magic sauce?
We give people a small, simple, sustainable daily ritual that can be a cornerstone for really big change in their lives. Because kencko makes it so easy to get 2.5 servings of fruits and veggies (literally 10-15 seconds to shake up a delicious smoothie) anyone can fit this new habit into their morning routine. Our members who have been using kencko for a while tell us that it has a halo effect on their other habits: they find themselves seeking out more fresh foods and less highly-processed ones. If you start the day with a smoothie, more often than not you’re going to have a smoothie kind of day.
We’re all about keeping things simple: we offer a modern solution based on very old-fashioned wisdom. “Eat your greens” is exactly what your mom always told you, and I think kencko customers appreciate that we’re not trying to blind them with science or unprovable health claims. Our free nutrition coaching program underpins our approach. We actively work to undo the damage the diet industry has caused, helping people to move away from restrictive, prescriptive eating plans and into a mindset of adding nutritious fruits and vegetables to their routine.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
More fruits and veggies for more people! We started as an exclusively e-commerce brand but we’re now poised to extend our reach into retail. We’re excited to show up in stores where people choose their fresh produce, and spread the word about the value of shelf-stable fruits and veggies alongside fresh and frozen. We’ll also be showing up in more countries, in more languages.
On the sustainability side, we’re working towards carbon neutral enterprise status. And we’re increasing our commitment to giving back to communities where people don’t have sufficient access to fruits and vegetables.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
On the consumer side, the challenge with a novel product like ours is to educate and build trust. We do that through investing in our team and keeping the quality of both products and communication very high. But it’s an ongoing process.
On the supply side, scaling up during such a turbulent period for global supply chains has been interesting! Thanks to epic efforts on the part of our operations team, we managed to keep our smoothies moving even during the most challenging periods of the pandemic.
How do people get involved/buy into your vision?
You can subscribe at kencko.com to get regular deliveries of our delicious smoothies, bowls or gumdrops. As a member, you can join our online community for peer support and awesome kencko recipes, and book free one-to-one coaching sessions with one of our Registered Dietitians to tune up your routine and help make healthy habits stick.
Non-members can find us on Instagram and TikTok @kencko and read our blog at kencko.com for free nutrition guidance, recipes, tips to cut food waste and lots more.