Amid a growing wave of foodmakers touting plant-based products, Kencko is betting its fruit and vegetable powders will catch on with consumers looking for healthy, organic drink alternatives. First, it’ll have to overcome skepticism about the nutritional value of dried foods.
The New York company sells freeze dried, powdered blends of fruits and vegetables, labeled with names including corals, greens, purples, and packed in single-serving sachets for mixing with water.
Kencko, Japanese for health, last week raised $3.4 million to develop flavors, products and a mobile app that’ll help customize customer diets. Investors included NextView Ventures, LocalGlobe, Kairos Ventures, Techstars and Max Ventures.
- While companies like Campbell-owned V8, Jus’, and Bai, have already established themselves as healthy options, Kencko says that its “100% organic” process retains the nutrients, proteins, and minerals that are typically lost in the processing of other plant-based drinks that add extra ingredients.
- Amy Shapiro, founder of Real Nutrition, a New York City nutritionist, wasn’t immediately won over. “Anytime something is processed through a drying method, like in these powders, you are losing the needed nutrients to a certain degree. I always recommend getting the whole fruits and vegetables over these other options.”
- Still, the powders, being plant-based, seemed superior to drinks sold by big chains, she said. “Places like Jamba Juice add so much sugar to their products that it outweighs the nutrients in the fruits. The plant-based diet like this company provides is good for us.”
- Karma Takeaway: Kencko tries to take a unique spot in the plant-based beverage market with its powdered drink, but still faces the reality of tough competition and the drying out of necessary nutrients for users.