With Earth Day just around the corner, climate activists across the globe have started to remind us of the individual act...
Our food system is in a state of emergency
What we eat today makes us sick, destroys the environment, and contributes to the climate crisis.
The list of things wrong with the way we produce food is practically never-ending; in short, we eat highly processed food low in nutritional value that makes us sick and obese. Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, deforestation, and depleted soils are fueling global warming. As the global temperature rises, increasingly extreme weather is destroying our crops and making our farms infertile. And the worst? Large scale production of animal proteins is causing irreversible damage to our planet, unnecessary animal suffering, and even global pandemics.
While the global population continues to grow, alternative meat products are quickly becoming a necessity—but the most popular alternatives today are highly processed, full of artificial ingredients, and their environmental footprint is still to be determined. They are junk food with a better story.
The potential impact of microalgae
Enter the world of microalgae. Microalgae, such as spirulina, are the most powerful, all-natural and sustainable foods on the planet. These algae, which are closely related to kelp, kombu, and other seaweeds, have been consumed by humans for centuries. Behind the scenes, they've been building the foundation of ecosystems for more than 3B years.
But so far, we haven’t been able to unearth the enormous potential of microalgae. And the reasons are obvious:
- Microalgae are sold today as a difficult-to-use dried powder with a fishy flavor and smell.
- They are grown in large, inefficient outdoor ponds, which are prone to contamination and yield a low-quality product.
- They can only be produced in warm climates along the equator and shipped thousands of miles before arriving in our kitchens.
We can do better than that.
Delicious, protein-packed, breakfast products
made from the most sustainable source of food on earth: microalgae
We Are The New Farmers. We are a mission-driven urban farm creating sustainable food products from microalgae—one of the most sustainable and nutritious food sources our planet has to offer. Microalgae, such as spirulina, are microscopic organisms that are closely related to kelp and other seaweeds. Plus, they are incredibly efficient machines that turn carbon into proteins, fatty acids, and other valuable nutrients—making them a promising form of cellular agriculture in the fight against global warming.
Since we started the cultivation of microalgae in 2018, our success has been rooted in three pillars:
All the nutrients, none of the bad flavor: algae reinvented
At We Are The New Farmers, we believe that the best nutrition comes from food that can go bad. That’s why our products are fresh: packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients that you can only find in whole foods—not in powders and pills. And they taste better too, with no fishiness or bitterness—just a mild mineral-ly flavor and extraordinary creamy texture.
We also believe that food is best for us when it is unprocessed. That’s why we only do to our ingredients what you’d do at home: we freeze and mix, but we stay away from chemicals you can’t pronounce or petri-dish lab methods.
Our first product is as simple as it gets: fresh spirulina in its natural form. The blue-green algae has the flavor of high-quality mineral water and a rich and creamy texture that is similar to hummus. Ideal to stir into yogurt bowls and overnight oats or to make pestos and salad dressings, it is packed with nutrients and vitamins in their organic form, keeping them easily available for your body. When refrigerated, it will last longer than a box of leafy greens.
Tastes good, blends even better
Our latest product addition is fresh frozen spirulina cubes, which pack our fresh spirulina into a smoothie-ready format. The perfect blend of mild taste, creamy texture, and dense micronutrients to supercharge any favorite smoothie recipe. Convenient and delicious, they became an instant favorite with our customer base. One cube has the equivalent micronutrients to two cups of spinach, and two cubes have the equivalent protein to an egg.
Resilient, efficient and clean:
how we are changing algae cultivation
After several years of research at NYU, we moved in 2018 into our current location in the Brooklyn Army Terminal in New York City. This is where we set up our growing operation that provides us with the purest, highest quality algae possible. Similar to other high-tech farms, our latest generation of technology uses sensors to create the perfect conditions for our algae to thrive—resulting in significantly higher efficiencies regardless of seasons or changing climates.
In addition, our systems have been designed to be flexible and can be set up with low upfront costs. Our strategy is to operate multiple farms around the country to decrease shipping costs and environmental impact, and to increase the freshness of our products.
As we expand our production and fulfillment capabilities, we will benefit from economies of scale and expect to operate at average margins of 55% across our products. With our high-value, high-margin products, only a few thousand customers put us within reach of profitability.
Rooted in science, not Voodoo
We realize that the world of nutrition is full of BS. We are here to help you get the right information: honest, scientific, holistic. To further establish a market for microalgae foods, we've worked with nutritionists from Cornell and Columbia University to create a network of health professionals and algae advocates.
In July 2021, we launched our Algae Academy, an online course developed with dietitians. It's intended for anyone with a professional interest in health and nutrition seeking to learn foundational knowledge about microalgae: its biology, history, and benefits.
"I feel like Hercules, when he found out he was a god."
We Are The New Farmers is shipping fresh spirulina to customers all over the continental United States. Our customers see their health, the environment, and the world itself as a living, intricately interconnected ecosystem. They want food that’s good for their bodies, their minds, the community, and the planet.
A few demographic numbers:
- The majority of our customers are female, but only slightly so (60:40), and between 35 and 55 years old.
- They tend to live in an urban environment along the coast: our primary markets in the US are New York, New Jersey, California, Texas and Florida.
We create sticky, high-value, high-margin products for D2C success
We primarily sell our fresh spirulina directly to end consumers via our website. More than 40% of revenue comes from customers that have subscribed to recurring deliveries to fuel their morning routines. On average, 2 out of 3 customers place another order within 90 days after purchase; and typically, customers place more than 3 orders with an average order value of more than $40.
These extraordinary retention rates and high order values are, in our opinion, a clear indicator that our products are becoming an integral part of our customers morning rituals—and not just a one-off fad.
Now that we have reached the tail end of the pandemic and most food establishments are returning to normal, we will expand into the wholesale market by selling our products directly to more than 6,000 juice & smoothie shops in the US. Not only is this a significant revenue opportunity, but will also serve as a discovery platform for our D2C channel—as many smoothie enthusiasts start their journey with to-go smoothies.
Customers are looking for more variety in the protein market
We currently operate in the US Smoothie Ingredients market. Over $1B of frozen smoothie ingredients are sold in the US every year.
Microalgae, however, also offers the perfect base for an array of plant-based products in both the dairy and protein markets. In its fresh form, spirulina has the taste, nutritional profile, and culinary flexibility to be a powerhouse staple in the breakfast category, leading the way in how customers start their day.
Smoothie sales are skyrocketing. By 2025, the juice and smoothie industry is expected to grow 10.1% YOY and achieve a market valuation of $17B.
The global spirulina market is predicted to grow 10% YoY reaching nearly $900M by 2027.
The North American market is predicted to have the highest degree of spirulina demand by the end of 2027.
51% of consumers say they would like to see more variety in protein sources for plant-based alternatives.
Frozen food is perceived to be just as good or even better than fresh by a majority of young consumers according to a recent Deloitte study & frozen foods sales increased by 18% in 2020.
We are pioneering a brave new algae world
In a super-saturated field of meat replacement products, customers are increasingly looking for other protein sources than plant-based burger patties. Consumer surveys show that the nutritional value of plant-based meats matters more than the ingredient list; and nutritionists are not entirely sold on processed meat alternatives either.
We Are The New Farmers is an early mover in creating a new algae-based food category featuring fresh microalgae with a focus on fewer ingredients, high nutritional value and convenience. We are making microalgae easy—and establishing ourselves as the leader of a new category.
We Are The New Farmers, because we need to change our world from the ground up
We currently operate out of our pilot facility in Brooklyn; but by the end of 2022, we will open two new facilities in New York and Los Angeles. These new facilities will decrease our production cost significantly as we implement automated processing and improved cultivation methods.
In 5 years, microalgae will be a staple of a health-conscious consumer’s diet, and we are building the carbon negative microalgae platform that will lead the category. We continue our mission to simplify fresh algae by establishing our three core product lines:
Boosters: Making use of the high functional value of microalgae, we will expand our line of convenient meal enhancers for smoothies, oats and other meals.
Bites: Our line of real food (aka perishable) chewables that cover your specific nutritional needs between meals will make algae something you want to enjoy.
Bowls: Ready to go meals - think algae in a cup – will establish algae as staple ingredients in our kitchen and simplify your routine.
Indoor farming is in growth mode
and a new exit opportunity is forming
Five years ago, almost no one knew what AgTech was. But fast forward to today, and agricultural technology is the new hot thing in investor circles. Some of the biggest players in the industry, AeroFarms and AppHarvest, have gone public—others like Infarm and Bowery are following closely.
But with significant funding comes the expectation to expand faster and develop a broader product portfolio that goes beyond leafy greens. Nearly all of the major players underlined their intention to bring new products to market that can capture more shelf space in the grocery store.
These companies will be looking to acquire new & innovative crops, high-margin products, and a wider audience.
We Are The New Farmers has raised $650K through notable angel networks such as the Princeton Alumni Angels and Harvest Returns—an angel network focused on agriculture and AgTech investments.
Now, we are raising growth capital on Republic to fund the expansion of our operations. The money will be used to hire additional marketing and operational talent to support our expansion as well as into marketing activities and product development.
The company has received grants from the NSF, NYSERDA, and NYU and will continue to seek out grant opportunities. We have been part of the NYU Launchpad accelerator program and the Futureworks Incubator program.
Meet the visionaries creating the future of food
We Are The New Farmers was founded by Jonas Guenther, who is an entrepreneur, food activist, and writer. He started developing solutions to grow food during his graduate program at NYU.
Guided by the question, “How do we need to change the way we grow, ship and eat food to make it carbon neutral?”, he established an experimental farm in the School of Engineering. The Urban Farm Lab serves as a project platform that enables students to learn about sustainability and food by running their own mini-projects, connecting their studies to the world of farming.
This would eventually lead him to the launch of We Are The New Farmers.
Deeply passionate about creating a livable future, Jonas also started the magazine Finding Tomorrow, which offers a glance into a world where we have overcome climate change and implemented solutions that make the future exciting.
He began his career as Product Manager at Olympus, and has been recognized by City and State NY as one of the “Responsible 100.” He continues to work with the NYU entrepreneurial community as a mentor and Founder in Residence, and is a mentor for StartOut.
Daniel Bernstein (COO & co-founder) oversees distribution, marketing and finance at We Are The New Farmers. He has 4 years of retail turnaround investing experience—with a particular focus on grocery store chains and large food business—after graduating from Princeton University with a degree in economics.
Daniel is currently studying to be certified as a nutritionist and health coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in an effort to round out our team’s nutritional background. This also provides an opportunity to connect with thousands of nutritionists who have graduated from that program.
In addition to his work as a farmer, he is an ambassador for Thought for Food, a movement to lead a sustainable food and agricultural revolution; and he is one of the founding members of the Associate Board of Rethink Food, a food waste and hunger action organization.
Michael Udovich (CTO & co-founder) is not afraid to get his hands dirty (or in our case, wet). He is responsible for our farm operations and development of new farm tech.