Actual Veggies adds nutritious fries to its plant-based offerings

This 2023 Expo East NEXTY Award finalist talks about starting a family business, creating veggie-forward burgers to improve his health and what’s next. Read more.

Davina van Buren

January 28, 2024

4 Min Read
Actual Veggies, available in several nutritious flavors, celebrates vegetables instead of trying to hide their taste.
Actual Veggies

Co-founder Jason Rosenbaum had the idea for Actual Veggies in 2019 when he stopped eating meat to lower his cholesterol. Looking to replace his favorite food—beef burgers—he quickly learned there were many veggie burger options out there, but none that met his needs of being healthy, delicious, and filling. Using his entrepreneurial background, Rosenbaum set out to make a restaurant-quality veggie burger that consumers could buy at the grocery store.

“Prior to Actual Veggies, I started several businesses ranging from an app development company to a mattress brand,” Rosenbaum says. “I’ve always had a love for food, so this was my first passion-meets-business project.”

Unlike many plant-based burger options in the marketplace, Actual Veggies puts vegetables, legumes and spices front and center. And they’re a picky eater’s dream: Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Gluten Free, soy free, nut free, vegan, and kosher with no saturated fats, preservatives, fillers or additives. We spoke with Rosenbaum about being a finalist for the Best New Plant-Focused Product NEXTY Award in 2023 and what’s on the agenda for Natural Products Expo West in March.

Actual Veggies' truffle burger was inspired by customer demand and restaurant menus.

What’s your R&D process like? How do you develop your flavor profiles?

We initially leaned into colorful veggies as the main ingredient in each burger so we could focus on colors: The Actual Orange Burger (now Sweet Potato Veggie Burger), The Actual Green Burger (now Super Greens Veggie Burger), The Actual Black Burger (now Black Bean Veggie Burger), and The Actual Purple Burger (Purple Roots Veggie Burger).

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How did you come up with the truffle burger, which was a finalist for a Best New Plant-Focused Product NEXTY last year?

We take inspiration from all over to help guide innovation, including trending ingredients, customer feedback and restaurant menus. Early on in our mission, we aimed to make a restaurant-quality, premium burger that translates from the packaging to the ingredients. Truffle was a no-brainer as it’s such a high-end premium ingredient and has never been done with a store-bought veggie burger.

Give us the rundown on operations: How many employees do you have? Where are you based? Where’s your production facility?

Right now, we have five employees including myself and co-founders (and siblings) Alex and Hailey Swartz. Our first hire was Cassi, my wife, to run marketing. In the last year, we brought on a director of sales. It’s truly a family-run business that we all put our hearts and souls into.

We look at it as less of a business and more of a 24/7 way of life. The company was founded in New York during COVID and now the co-founders are spread out throughout the country in New York, Miami, and Chicago. We have two production facilities, both in Colorado.

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Actual Veggies, available in several flavors, celebrates vegetables instead of trying to hide their flavors.

You work directly with farmers to source the freshest and most sustainable crops. How do you find the farmers with whom you work?

In our early days of the business, we were connected to different farms throughout the U.S. through our network of investors.

What’s the biggest challenge of being in the natural products industry? The biggest reward?

The biggest challenge: It’s a very competitive space. Luckily, we live in a time where making better-for-you products is the focus for many startups and consumers. In return, we get a lot of amazing new healthy natural products—but it is competitive and only the best companies survive.

The biggest reward is creating a product that we truly believe in and feel good eating and feeding our families every day. We are proud of what we’ve created.

Do you have any advice for fellow natural products entrepreneurs?

Understand that nothing happens overnight and take your time. At the same time, at some point you must take a leap of faith and go to market.

What’s next for Actual Veggies?

We are excited to debut our next product, Super Fries, at Expo West. As of Jan. 11, our first flavor became available to order on HungryRoot. Super Fries has everything you know and love about French fries, but with added veggies like chickpeas and cauliflower (in addition to potatoes) for added nutrients and protein.

We created three flavors: Classic Russet Potato, Sweet Potato and Purple Sweet Potato Super Fries. Everything is made with avocado oil, which is a seed-free, anti-inflammatory oil. We plan to launch these in grocery stores by the end of 2024. We’ve put a lot of R&D into it and believe we will change fries forever! This is the first potato/veggie fry on the market that is made with clean oil, tastes delicious and has the perfect crisp on the outside and fluffy interior.

About the Author(s)

Davina van Buren

Davina van Buren is a North Carolina-based food writer and farmer. In addition to writing for numerous food brands, restaurant and agricultural tech companies and industry trade journals, she also grows heirloom vegetables and microgreens for local chefs.

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