Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 10
stick, that's a common format of a snack in
Mexico, but the way you see it is deep fried
with unhealthy oils and a lot of artificial
ingredients, " Ms. Trillo said. " I wanted to
create the healthier version of that. "
She launched the business two years
ago. The products are sold online and in
dozens of specialty retailers, coffee shops
and juice bars throughout the country.
Flavors include smoky chipotle, Mexican
lime, chili turmeric and churro.
Nemi means " to live " in Náhuatl, the
language of the Aztecs.
" For us, living a holistic life means
caring about our food, the plants we use
and the hands harvesting our plants, " Ms.
Trillo said. " As a Latina myself, bridging
the gender gap and working toward
equal pay means that I want to work with
women. I want to ask tough questions to
suppliers and vendors around diversity,
around inclusion, about everything that
I've been fighting for, not only as Nemi's
founder but also as an attorney in human
Prior to the pandemic, she relied
investing in the communities where its
cuisine originates as part of its Moonboi
Project initiative. Moonboi means
" prosperity " in Kpelle, " my dad's tribe, "
Ms. Spencer said. Ayo Foods has partnered
with non-profit organization Girl Power
Africa to support the cultivation of Liberian
farmland that will be used to create
new income opportunities for women.
" It's really impactful and such a terrific
reminder of what we're trying to build,
which is not only a company that celebrates
these flavors but really empowers
the communities that were the inspiration
behind the launch of this brand, " Ms.
The seeds for Mexican-inspired snack
brand Nemi were sown a decade ago,
shortly after human rights attorney Regina
Trillo moved to Chicago from Mexico City.
" One of the first times I went to the
grocery store - to the so-called 'ethnic'
aisle - I remember not feeling represented
and seeing well-established brands
making products that were using artificial
ingredients and portraying Mexico in a
stereotypical way, " Ms. Trillo said. " At the
same time, I started dealing with health
Food Business News
October 12, 2021
issues, and I couldn't eat my favorite
snack, which are chips, and I couldn't find
a savory snack that had what we all look
for in chips, which is crunch and flavor. "
She began experimenting with
nopales, the spiky pads of the cactus plant,
so revered in Mexican culture that one
appears on the country's flag as a symbol
of resilience. The crop itself thrives in
hot, dry climates and provides fiber and
In her kitchen she developed the
initial recipes for her first product, baked
snack sticks formulated with nopales,
amaranth seeds, pea protein powder,
chia seeds, ground flax seed and
seasonings such as organic
turmeric and organic spirulina.
on in-store sampling. Over the past year
and a half, Ms. Trillo collected consumer
feedback and redesigned her packaging
with vibrant colors to stand out on shelf.
She also refined some of the messaging
around ingredients, flavors and story to
resonate with shoppers.
" It was very important for me to get
a sense of how consumers are reacting
to this product, " she said. " What do they
like? What do they not? What from the
story or from a branding perspective is
sticking, and what is not? "
As she prepares to expand her brand's
reach, Ms. Trillo is thinking about merchandising.
She wants to see her products
in the snack aisle, not the ethnic or international
aisle, where she found herself
standing a decade ago, feeling excluded
This subject spurs recurring conversation
" We want to be able
snack sticks are
formulated with nopales,
amaranth seeds, pea protein
powder, chia seeds, ground
flax seed and Mexican-inspired
to compete with bigger
brands, " she said. " We
have that right. " ▪
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 1
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 2
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 3
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 4
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 5
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 6
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 7
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 8
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 9
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 10
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 11
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 12
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 13
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Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 15