Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 6

FOOD ENTREPRENEUR®
POWERED
BY PLANTS
Three emerging brands develop next-level
plant-based innovation
Pan
BY MONICA WATROUS
merging brands are using simple yet
surprising ingredients to redefine
dietary staples.
Mushrooms masquerade as meat
snacks. Beans and peas pose as faux fish.
Hemp seed oil and cocoa butter mimic
milk fat in a non-dairy gelato alternative.
Pan's Mushroom Jerky, Gathered
Foods and Wonderlab's Doozy Pots are
among companies tapping into culinary
creativity to deliver the taste and texture
of traditional animal products with
nutritional and sustainable benefits. The
founders behind the businesses are part
of a $7 billion movement in the United
States that is pushing the boundaries of
plant-based innovation beyond burgers
and milk.
Much ado about mushrooms
Shiitakes star in Pan's Mushroom
Jerky, a line of savory snacks inspired by a
family recipe. Michael Pan launched the
venture shortly after a trip to Malaysia to
visit family and connect with his culture.
" On one of the visits, I met a cousin
of mine who put a bowl of food on the
42
Food Business News
E
table; I tried it and actually thought it
was pork, " Mr. Pan recalled. " But I was
super confused because this cousin was
a vegetarian. I quickly found out it was
actually a mushroom. He told me he had
been making this snack for himself and
his family and selling it locally... That's
when I knew our family had a snack that
needed to be shared with the rest of the
world. "
Mr. Pan, an electrical engineer with
no prior food industry experience, initially
pursued his plant-based snack startup
on a part-time basis. Ten years later, he
decided to focus fully on Pan's Mushroom
Jerky and opened a manufacturing facility
in Portland, Ore.
" I went all in, cashed out my 401(k),
and that's how I got off the ground, " Mr.
Pan said. " Our product and process are
unique in the sense that it's truly this family
recipe that we're trying to scale. I wanted
to be an expert at manufacturing our
recipe to a certain standard and manage
that through as we scale and become the
experts at that. "
The products are formulated with
dried shiitake mushrooms, coconut sugar,
avocado oil, Himalayan pink salt and
chia seeds. Flavors include original, zesty
Thai, applewood barbecue, and salt and
pepper. Two recent additions are curry
and teriyaki.
An appearance on the television
show " Shark Tank " in 2020 marked a turning
point in the business. Mr. Pan pitched
to the panel of investors on the program
and accepted a deal with Dallas Mavericks
owner Mark Cuban, who offered to pay
$300,000 in exchange for an 18% equity
stake in the business.
" We were already on pace to double
our sales in 2020 to something like $1.2
million to $1.4 million, " Mr. Pan said. " But
the show really blew away our expectations.
We ended up selling about $1
million in sales online in four days... We
finished around $2.3 million in 2020, half
of that due to the volume from the show. "
Prior to partnering with Mr. Cuban,
Pan's Mushroom Jerky was self-funded.
The investment has enabled the brand to
introduce new flavors, increase distribution
and continue to expand production to
meet rising demand, Mr. Pan said.
Pan's Mushroom Jerky is sold online
and in approximately 3,000 retail stores
nationwide. Earlier this year, the company
February 15, 2022

Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022

Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 1
Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 2
Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 3
Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 4
Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 5
Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 6
Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 7
Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 8
Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 9
Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 10
Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 11
Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 12
Food Entrepreneur - February 15, 2022 - 13
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