Beverage and supplement industry veteran Eric Schnell knows a thing or two about the trials and tribulations of launching all-natural consumer products, and in particular, all natural beverages and nutritional supplements. As cofounder of Steaz Teas and liquid herbal supplement brand "I Am enlightened nutrition," and advisor to a number of other companies, he has dedicated his career to steering natural products industry brands from concept to reality.
Now, with the launch of his latest venture, MetaBrand, Schnell is leveraging his long-standing relationships in the industry to help democratize product formulation, manufacturing and distribution processes, as well as sales and marketing strategies, for emerging entrepreneurs in the all-natural beverage and supplement channels.
Operating from its 4,000-square-foot facility in Edison, N.J., MetaBrand will offer turnkey, concept-to-market solutions for startup and early-stage natural brands. Employing state-of-the art extraction and manufacturing technologies and working closely with its supply chain partners, “MetaBrand will help companies quickly and efficiently develop winning formulations for product concepts that are on-trend and efficacious, regulation compliant, and scalable,” said Schnell.
Helping entrepreneurs meet natural products demand
The MetaBrand launch comes at a time of unprecedented demand for natural products, which has sparked grocers to place greater emphasis on healthier food and beverage options. From 2009 to 2011, the natural and organic food and beverage market grew 20 percent, according to a Mintel report titled “Natural and Organic Food and Beverage: The Market,” and natural food and beverages showed resilience during tough economic times in mass merchandise, food, drug and convenience channels, as well as natural and specialty markets, the October 2011 report added.
Yet, despite the growing demand, many natural product concept originators struggle to see their ideas through to market.
“There are countless great ideas out there in the natural beverage and supplement circles, but so few of these ideas ever evolve into a profitable product that people can buy on store shelves,” said Schnell. “The originators of these great ideas generally lack the experience or the financial wherewithal to tackle challenges such as full-scale product formulation, manufacturing, regulatory compliance and distribution. At MetaBrand, we’ve pioneered a way to turn these great ideas into a reality in a highly efficient manner.”
Leveraging a broad base of experience and relationships earned over more than 15 years in the industry, Schnell has assembled a veteran team of over 30 advisors to facilitate all aspects of product development, manufacturing, and launch. From food scientists and compliance experts to marketing, branding, finance, admin and sales support, every facet of the concept-to-market process is covered. In the future, MetaBrand will look to add a private equity arm of the firm, facilitating or directly providing startup capital for promising projects that require financial backing.
“MetaBrand is truly unique in that it is the first comprehensive service provider in the natural beverage and supplement channels,” Schnell adds. “There is no other company that I am aware of that can offer startup brands as much collective industry expertise in such a highly efficient, cost-effective manner.”