Reducing Food Waste: Dominic Dubé Of Evive Nutrition On How They Are Helping To Eliminate Food Waste
Freezing food is the best way to preserve it, not only does it last for over a year, but it also keeps the nutrients intact. Also, blending produce into frozen cubes allows us to use imperfect foods that would otherwise be looked over and left to spoil in grocery stores.
It has been estimated that each year, more than 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States. That equates to more than $160 billion worth of food thrown away each year. At the same time, in many parts of the United States, there is a crisis caused by people having limited access to healthy & affordable food options. The waste of food is not only a waste of money and bad for the environment, but it is also making vulnerable populations even more vulnerable.
Authority Magazine started a new series called “How Restaurants, Grocery Stores, Supermarkets, Hospitality Companies and Food Companies Are Helping To Eliminate Food Waste.” In this interview series, we are talking to leaders and principals of Restaurants, Grocery Stores, Supermarkets, Hospitality Companies, Food Companies, and any business or nonprofit that is helping to eliminate food waste, about the initiatives they are taking to eliminate or reduce food waste.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dominic Dubé.
After graduating from the University of Sherbrooke with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and his partner with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychoeducation, Dominic Dubé and Claudia Poulin chose to shift from their academic backgrounds entirely and, instead, start their own business. The couple agreed that their shared passion for healthy eating and positively impacting the environment and people’s daily routines would guide their professional lives. Once the couple transitioned into veganism, Dominic being the chef of the house, had a lot of fun discovering a new world of possibilities in terms of healthy, vegan cuisine.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
After Claudia switched to a plant-based diet, we wanted to find a way to make it easier to prepare super healthy smoothies in the morning. We came up with smoothie cubes. We started by selling our product in 2–3 grocery stores, and now our smoothie cubes are available in 2,000 grocery stores. We then launched into e-commerce, which has proven to be a major success. We’re focused on frozen products in order to make healthy food easy to prepare and delicious.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company or organization?
We used to cut our smoothie cubes by hand for two years! Then we came up with the smoothie wheel, allowing a much better user experience and almost zero waste in production and at home.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
At first, I was cutting the smoothie cubes by hand and needed help because my wrists were starting to give up on me, so I invented the machine — a big pneumatic press to cut the cubes. It was a disaster, never worked, and we lost months of work and more than $15,000, but that led me to create the smoothie wheel, which is what made Evive successful :)
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership, to me, is to inspire your employees, your partner, your clients. The way I want to do that is through innovative ideas — things that can shape the future differently. We like to see ourselves as the “apple” of food: a lot of innovative ideas. For example vegan muffin cubes, which are launching soon! Ultimately, we hope to transform the way people eat.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This too will pass.
Whether it’s a great thing, you must be in the present and enjoy it. When it’s not a great thing, rest assured, it will pass :)
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. What exactly are we talking about when we refer to food waste?
Basically, food waste is food that ends up in landfills versus in people’s bellies. The problem is that there’s a lot of energy, fossil fuel, and water that go into the production of food, and if you have 30% of that ending up in landfills, it’s not efficient. The way we see it is, food production and distribution is not efficient. Thirty percent is not the end game we should be aiming toward.
Can you help articulate a few of the main causes of food waste?
A good portion of the food waste happens in people’s refrigerators: fruits, veggies, and protein that spoil. Frozen food can eliminate a good portion of that waste. The way we make our products also helps reduce food waste, because we make smoothies, we can use imperfect fruits and veggies that nobody would otherwise purchase in grocery stores, like imperfect cuts of pineapple, raspberry chunks, etc.
What are a few of the obstacles that companies and organizations face when it comes to distributing extra or excess food? What can be done to overcome those barriers?
Perishables! Fresh produce is perishable and it takes time between the moment you harvest, ship to distributors, then to grocery stores, and finally to clients. At every step, products can spoil and will get thrown away. When the products are frozen, it avoids that waste.
Can you describe a few of the ways that you or your organization are helping to reduce food waste?
We believe that frozen food is solving this issue. Freezing food is the best way to preserve it, not only does it last for over a year, but it also keeps the nutrients intact. Also, blending produce into frozen cubes allows us to use imperfect foods that would otherwise be looked over and left to spoil in grocery stores.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help address the root of this problem?
Buy local produce! Avoid imported fresh produce. For policies, it could be interesting to have an indicator of the carbon footprint on a product sold at the grocery store to enable consumers to make the best choice so that price isn’t the only motivator when it comes to purchasing decisions. And I think consumers are ready for that.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Don’t try to do everything yourself! For my next business venture, I’ll surround myself with partners and employees that are more talented than me from the get-go.
- Get the right mentor; find someone industry-specific to help you avoid the pitfalls, but make sure it’s the right mentor, someone that shares your values and has relevant experience. A mentor who doesn’t share your ideals and values is the worst thing that can possibly happen. You’re better on your own than receiving contradictory advice.
- It’s easier than you think to get funding. You start off thinking nobody can lend you $5 because you haven’t proven anything yet, but you’re wrong! There are people that will buy into your vision of the future and invest in you! You can raise money to help hire the right people and grow your business sooner rather than later, and that’s a game-changer.
- If you want to make a positive impact on your community and the environment, focus your efforts. For some time, we were invested in so many organizations and projects, and when we focused on organic, food waste and carbon compensation through tree planting, we had a much bigger impact because it aligned everything, even our financial capabilities as a burgeoning company, and it made us more impactful.
- Trial and error: I remind myself of this all the time. Test your innovations at a small scale; you never know what your clients will tell you until they have your product in front of them. You learn a ton from that and then you iterate and launch at scale!
Are there other leaders or organizations who have done good work to address food waste? Can you tell us what they have done? What specifically impresses you about their work? Perhaps we can reach out to them to include them in this series.
Loop; they tackle food waste by transforming food waste into delicious consumer products.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Vote with your dollar, buy local and organic products when possible; there are tons of companies out there making products for a better tomorrow, with less food waste, more nutritious ingredients, and manage to minimize their carbon footprint, etc. Encourage those companies, that’s a good push in the right direction.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
I’d love to meet John Mackey, Whole Foods co-founder and CEO. He initiated the wholefood diet and organic movement in North America, and he is an inspiration to us. He’s a true visionary; I’d love to pick his brain regarding my vision of the future of food. That would be a great chat!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Head to our blog at blog.evivenutrition.ca/en
This was very meaningful, thank you so much, and we wish you only continued success.