The company also plans to launch its quinoa, chia and rice puffed snack KunaPops in the Canadian market by end of November.
LiveKuna is firmly focused on social responsibility: transparency; a farm to table approach; empowering farmers; and producing sustainable flours and superfood snacks that are guilt-free, wheat-free, gluten-free and organic, co-founder Santiago Stacey told BakeryandSnacks.
Placing Ecuador on the global stage
“We are on a mission to make people eat healthier by creating superfood products that are nutritious, farm-to-table, tasty and affordable.”
The company – founded in 2014 by Stacey and Carlos Gutierrez – joined food accelerator Food-X at the beginning of 2017 in order to gain access into Walmart.
“Our motivation has always being about creating good-for-you products using superfoods and sharing them worldwide. Entering new markets requires the right partners,” said Stacey.
“We are excited to be among a small group of Ecuadorian companies selling to the biggest retailer in the world. This confirms both the quality of products our country can offer, as well as Walmart’s commitment to expand their organic offering of better-for-you products to their customers.”
Ecuador is the largest exporter of bananas in the world, and the third largest producer of quinoa.
“We are working with a network of 500 farmers who grow these products under sustainable and environmental-friendly practices. We are creating opportunities to benefit them in the long term so they can focus in growing high quality seeds and grains,”
Quinoa flour has very high nutritional benefits, including protein and a complete amino acid composition, recommended for both children and adults.
Banana flour contains tryptophan and vitamin B6, as well as resistant starch that controls blood sugar and contributes to intestinal health. When used in baking, there is also no need to add sugar as it is naturally sweet.
Both flours are 100% organic, gluten-free alternatives to wheat-based flours suitable for celiac sufferers.
“Research has found that a 100% gluten-free diet is the only existing treatment for people with celiac disease,” said Stacey.
Transparency is key
“LiveKuna is based on transparency, from the origin of our ingredients, the partnership with small farmers, all the way to the message we communicate to our customers,” said Stacey.
“People deserve to know where their food comes from and how it’s been produced so they can make better choices and live healthier,” he said.
Consumer demand for organic products has increased considerably in the North American and European markets, said Stacey, offering LiveKuna the opportunity to share their know-how and technological advances.
“Walmart recognized the opportunity to market superfoods and organic products, which have proven to be versatile for both consumption and preparation,” he added.
LiveKuna has offices in Quito, Ecuador, and in Toronto, Canada, employing 12.
It also has a 10,000 sq. ft. processing facility in Ambato, Ecuador, equipped with an optical classifier to remove impurities and classify seeds and grains by color to guarantee uniformity.
“We operate a vertically-integrated supply chain, sourcing directly from farmers and processing and packing products in our own facility,” said Stacey.
“By controlling the entire production chain, we can assure consumers of absolute transparency and guarantee our products are consistent in quality and affordable.”
LiveKuna’s products – including organic rice, and Chia + Probiotics and Quinoa & Greens + Probiotics blend powders – are sold in Ecuador, Chile, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Canada, as well as on Amazon.
Kuna means ‘to give’ in Quechua, an indigenous language from the Andes.
“We live by this mantra,” said Stacey, adding the company has collaborated with WE Charity to give back for every bag of KunaPops sold to provide Ecuadorian students with training to build school gardens and kitchens.
“Every bag has a code so consumers can track their impact,” he added.
KunaPops 35g (1.2oz) bags have a recommended retail price of $1.99. LiveKuna's organic quinoa and banana flours range between $6 and $8.