We met Lubiana in October 2018. She was in the concept phase with her new company, Liva Foods. Lubiana had her own health story, one result of which was that she should avoid refined sugar. A big sweet tooth, she still wanted to enjoy sweets, but didn’t want to feel guilty about it. Lubiana had a habit of snacking on dried dates, which are sweet but also full of vitamins and minerals—a wholesome snack. She started using dates rather than sugar in her baking at home, but wasn’t able to find ground-up dates at health and bulk food stores. So she bought them online.
Lubiana soon realized that there was an opportunity for date sugar in stores. It wasn’t being properly marketed—either as a baking ingredient or as a sweetener in drinks. She started Liva Foods and began building a product. The first problem was that all the samples of date sugar that Liva had managed to procure by that point had a distinct date taste. So Liva’s branding company reached out to The Greater Goods.
The perfect date sugar was elusive—we weren’t able to find it even with our vast network of suppliers. In the end, we went to the Middle East and found it. It has great solvability, a pleasing subtle taste profile and great light colour. We shepherded the date sugar through the process of organic and GMO-free certification. Now it’s shipped to California, where it’s processed, and arrives at Liva’s Ontario packaging facility at 50% of the landed cost of inferior sugars.
Liva’s branding agency characterized the sugar aisle as ‘boring’. Sugar is still packaged in plain white bags, with stevia in plain green bags. So the agency went in the opposite direction: they chose a colour that simply didn’t exist in the sugar section. We took that branding and went to a manufacturer that we know specializing in canisters—a container that’s as far away from a bag as you can get. This manufacturer has extreme knowledge, great pricing and the ability to grow—they were perfect for Liva.
When the final product was just about ready, the first thing we did was go out and sign $2 million worth of deals with brokers in Europe, the U.S., Korea and Japan. It wasn’t hard. Can you tell there was a demand waiting to be satisfied?
Liva Foods hired us on as their master sales broker. One month after cracking domestic sales, we have signed up six independent stores and secured approval from Whole Foods and Sobeys. The exports we signed deals on come into effect in six months’ time…and now we’re looking into Australia.
Not ones to rest on her laurels, Lubiana is now planning on introducing Liva date sugar sachets.
Posted in Case Study
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