Today we are sitting down with Mr. David Kerbel, the Chief Executive Officer of Rritual Superfoods Inc. (CSE: RSF) to discuss what RSF is all about, and hopefully answer some of your questions as well!
- 1) You have extensive experience in consumer-packaged goods. Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how your experience with consumer-packaged goods helps a company like Rritual?
I have been in the consumer-packaged goods space for nearly 35 years working with many national and major brands. I started out at Procter & Gamble selling to the world’s largest retail brands and enjoyed that for about 12 years. From there I went on to work at CrossMark which is one of the world’s largest sales and marketing agencies in the world. I had numerous experiences with every retailer in North America selling brands big and small. After CrossMark, I was able to come to work as an entrepreneur for Celsius Beverages (CELH) and helped lead them to their Nasdaq IPO and helped the company achieve many important milestones. During my time there I helped Celsius grow retail sales nationwide with every major retailer and in 2010 direct efforts led to $36M in incremental sales for Celsius. Celsius had a clear value proposition and ‘caught lightning in a bottle’ and I see the very same happening right now with Rritual. My experience and contacts are to build a management team to win, help the company grow points of distribution, work with retailers to understand their ‘best practices’ for instore and online marketing, bring strategic investors and stakeholders, and demonstrate scalability with our sales and operations.
- 2) Rritual bills itself as the market’s first premium brand of functional mushroom and adaptogenic elixirs. Can you tell us what adaptogens and functional mushrooms are and how they play into the health and wellness market?
Rritual Superfoods is proud to be a premium leader in the functional mushroom and adaptogenic superfood space, and our Reishi Relax product recently won the ECRM retail buyer’s choice award for the top wellness product based on innovative packaging and product benefits. These are top retail buyers (choose new products for shelf space) for retailers such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, Costco, and others. Here is the quote from the SVP of ECRM:
“A big part of wellness these days — especially during the pandemic — includes finding ways to relax the body and mind. Both Buyers Choice Award winners have products aimed at calming and relaxing one’s mental state, one from the outside, and the other from the inside, and each would be a great addition to buyers’ wellness assortments. Congratulations to both winners.” - Craig Chmielowicz, SVP for ECRM.
Adaptogens are extremely beneficial allies for maintaining the health of the body and mind in today's modern world. An adaptogen is a classification of select herbs and mushrooms that help the body adapt and respond to emotional or physical stressors by supporting healthy metabolic processes and balance of vital health systems. Their consumption as teas, tinctures, and restorative foods can be traced as far back to 3000 B.C., as pillars of Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese herbalism. Top adaptogens in the herbalism today are Ashwagandha, Eleuthero, Holy Basil, and Rhodiola.
Today there is an estimated 2,000 species of mushrooms that have been identified as edible as a food, or for the therapeutic, also known as functional benefits they provide. Approximately 15 are well-recognized for the unique health actions the posess and ability to target and support a specific health response in the body. For example, Shiitake, a staple food in many Asian cultures, is also known for it immune-supportive or functional benefits. At Rritual, we consider all edible mushrooms superfoods due to the novel and beneficial compounds they offer. Some of favorites are Reishi, Chaga, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, and Cordyceps.
At Rritual, we supercharge the primary functional mushroom with affiliated adaptogens, and the health benefit of each elixir is noted in the product name: Chaga Immune, Reishi Relax, & Lion’s Mane Focus
Each elixir is enhanced with ingredients known as adaptogens that possess complementary actions to promote formula efficacy and help ensure the body's ability to manage day-to-day stress is fully supported.
- 3) How are the adaptogens and functional mushrooms procured? Does the company’s location in Canada help, hinder or have no effect on being able to acquire the raw materials needed for your products? What are some distinctives of your product that differentiate it from its competitors?
All of our super ingredients are procured and manufactured in the USA. We only use USDA Organic ingredients, and our co-manufacturing facility is GMP and SQF certified for the highest quality control measures. We are mainly currently focusing on the US retail market so our manufacturing is currently taking place in California, and since our facility is GMP certified, it will make for an smoother entrance into the Canadian marketplace.
Our clear to understand products with benefits are a clear differentiator from our competitors. We also use synergistic adaptogens with each primary functional mushroom to supercharge our blends and also incorporate a natural and organic daily pre-biotic blend for gut health and a daily immune synergy blend of eight various functional mushrooms. These are clear points of differentiation for the Rritual Superfood elixirs. Our packaging is very minimalistic and modern as well which stands out from competitors.
- 4) Whole Foods listed adaptogens and functional mushrooms as a top food trend in 2021. What is the long-term vision for this company? Do you expect the demand for these products will continue to grow into a huge mainstream market or do you see it as mostly a more niche, more specialized market? What countries and parts of the world are you targeting or planning to target in the future?
Functional foods are here to stay. The current world issues with the virus have made foods with functional benefits (cognitive, immune, stress support for example) highly in demand. When a top retailer like Whole Foods names these products the top food trend, it is a big deal. These products are becoming and will continue to become more mainstream as more consumers and retailers want products that can assist in taking charge of one’s health and helps to take a more proactive approach to health. These products have important compounds and ingredients that help the body adapt to various stresses, supercharge immunity and cognitive function, and much more. Rritual is currently focusing on the US market and will enter Canada shortly and will look to enter Australia after Canada.
- 5) The global functional mushroom market is expected to grow at a rate of about 8% over the next five years. We mentioned Whole Foods earlier and Kroger has also predicted 2021 will be a big year for mushrooms. If demand for Rritual’s product continues to grow, how scalable is Rritual’s production process?
We have a turnkey production process and have entered into long term supply agreements with our vendors. Given our expected retail demand for 2400 stores, Rritual is prepared for scaling up its manufacturing.
- 6) COVID-19 was rough on brick & mortar retail outlets. What effect did COVID-19 have on your company and what is the overall strategy regarding e-commerce vs. brick & mortar?
COVID-19 brought more demand for all functional foods and foods with clear benefits. Rritual’s products with clear benefits such as Reishi Relax, Chaga Immune, and Lion’s Mane Focus have seen tremendous demand and feedback both from consumers and retailers as these products have super ingredients and adaptogens which are so important for the modern lifestyle. Consumers are increasingly looking for these benefits in the foods they are buying so Rritual is seeing demand from that. Rritual has an omni-channel approach with focusing on wellness e-commerce platforms to carry our products as well as retailers that focus and prioritize wellness products. We will work with these retailers marketing strategies along with our own to make it a mutually beneficial relationship and to educate and incentivize consumers on our offerings.
- 7) You have a leadership team at Rritual with a lot of experience—over a hundred years of combined experience in the combined specialty CPG space. Can you tell us about them and how they help Rritual do what it does?
Leadership is very important. It comes down to experience. We carefully selected every ingredient from step one to be Organic to achieve our USDA Organic Certification is the fastest time I’ve ever seen a company receive it. Our Chief Innovation Officer, Stacey Gillespie, is to be credited for that and for our world class formulations. Stacey is in charge of product development and innovation and has produced many award-winning wellness products which are in major retailers today for brands such as MegaFood, Gaia Herbs, and Aura Cacia. She is a tremendous asset to Rritual.
Warren Spence has been instrumental in operations, manufacturing, and procurement. The large retailers we will be working with need assurance thar we can scale up, and Warren is an amazing operational leader. He helped launch Red Bull in Canada and is running operations for Nude Vodka Beverages. Given his and our teams’ beverage experience, he will be a tremendous asset when Rritual produces RTD beverage products.
We recently brought on Sarton as our VP Sales USA. Sarton is a very experienced and connected US sales executive and I worked with her at Celsius Beverages as well.
We have many other tremendous teammates. We encourage everyone to view our deck at investors.rritual.com.
- 8) The Company’s launch included Lion’s Mane, Chaga and Reishi adaptogen elixirs. Is there anything you can tell us about what to expect for additional products to be launched in the coming year?
We are innovating other elixirs, mood enhancing lattes mixes, plant-based collagen boosters, and ready to drink functional beverages.
- 9) Now that Rritual is trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker symbol RSF, does the company intend on listing its shares in the US on the OTC exchange?
We expect to be trading on the OTC Exchange within three weeks. The goal within 12 months from today is to apply for a Nasdaq Listing.
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