Episode 248: Simon Sacal

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  Did you know that most fruit snacks have 20 ingredients, some of which are fruit juice or fruit concentrate? Many of those are also apple based, regardless of the flavor. 

Solely’s line of fruit snacks are a game changer, consisting only of whole, organic fruit. The fastest growing fruit snack in America per Nielsen data, these snacks come in mango, orange, passion fruit and guava, and can be found right next to your traditional fruit snacks.

Fruit snacks are only the beginning of Solely’s produce-based innovations! Another on-the-go option: their dried fruit and fruit jerky lines, available in mango, banana and pineapple; plain, indulgently drizzled with 100% cacao (with no added sugar), or spectacularly spicy with a dusting of chili and sea salt. 

Solely’s manufacturing technology dries the fruit mildly for optimal flavor and texture. Because Solely has the capacity to control the input and the quality of the organic fruit that they use, the quality is exceptional; because there is one whole mango (or banana, or pineapple) in their jerky, the consumer consistently gets the best quality at the best price.

Solely also offers a shelf-stable, one ingredient spaghetti squash pasta that is ready to eat in just five minutes. A pasta alternative, but not a processed alternative, this pasta retains the taste and texture of spaghetti squash. It’s not only a convenient way to keep vegetables on hand to be prepared in a flash, but a remarkable innovation for those with arthritis or who have no access to the tools to prepare spaghetti squash from scratch (like students in dorms).

Solely CEO Simón Sacal is particularly excited about their newly launched savory Green Banana Fusilli Pasta. Currently available at Whole Foods, this product looks and tastes like conventional pasta– with a cool black color kids will love, due to the bananas’ natural oxidation. 

“You’re eating organic fruit instead of a pasta. It’s not that I’m just changing wheat flour for corn flour, for rice flour. It’s an organic fruit and that really changes the nutritional aspect of what you’re eating; it’s not a better pasta, it’s not a better for you pasta, it’s a good for you pasta because you’re eating an organic fruit… It’s something that you tell your kids: okay, have another serving. You’re not limiting the servings of pasta, because this is the nutritious part of the meal, it’s not the add-on part of the meal.” Simón Sacal (32:28-33:18)

Because Soley’s products are primarily single ingredient, sourcing is incredibly important for ongoing availability and consistent quality. Solely commits to purchasing 100% of the yield from the farmers they work with, allowing them the financial flexibility to plan for the future by eliminating uncertainty from over- or underperforming harvests, and the waste and financial loss from conventionally unsellable “ugly” produce. This is an environmental boon as well, since using all the product grown provides twice the calories or fruit using the same amount of water, land, labor and resources.

In addition, Solely supports their farmers as they convert to organically grown. The USDA requires three years of farming organically before earning the certified organic seal. This can be a costly transitory period for farmers, as they have to continue to charge conventional pricing while they convert to organic growing methods that can produce a smaller yield. Solely hasn’t always worked with fruit; a decade ago their primary focus was rice and potatoes. The change came about to help the Mexican government provide accessible fruit to children, especially in lunchbox programs in schools. At the time, only 20% of children were eating the recommended amount of fruit in Mexico. Solely invented a technology to make shelf stable bars out of apples without losing any nutrients. Nuts or cereals can be incorporated, and the technology can also take advantage of local fruits like papaya or pineapple.

“There’s times in the year when we’re giving around a million of those little bars, which are a million apples a day to children… It’s a huge deal because children now are eating fruit for breakfast, instead of sugar loaded cereals or other types of product.” Simón Sacal (48:25-49:23)

You can use the locator at Solely.com to find Solely products near you, or order online!

How to get involved

  • Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week! 
  • Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here

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About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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