As a food company, WhatIF Foods’ first commitment is in replenishing diets. The company takes this position within the context of a broken food system, which creates an obesogenic food environment with an abundance in ‘empty calories’. The development and marketing of ‘empty calories’ in the form of calorie-rich but nutrient-poor junk foods have consolidated into a global health paradox, where widespread obesity and malnourishment concurrently exist. WhatIF Foods strives to address this problem by applying proprietary processes that maintain and harness natural nutritive properties of ingredients – like the Bambara groundnut – while adapting these ingredients into formats accessible to consumers – like instant noodles.
‘Restore’ is another pillar WhatIF Foods places at the centre of its mission. This is against the agri-food industry’s norms of simplification, consolidation, and optimization with profitability as the primary priority. WhatIF Foods does things differently. Its supply chain starts with how its ingredient crops are grown. It actively advocates for the adoption of regenerative agriculture through outreach programs with partnering farmers.
The Singapore-based company hopes that its commitment to regenerative agriculture would facilitate the adoption for this alternative agricultural approach across the value chain. Through its initiatives and communications, WhatIF Foods also believes it can convince consumers to buy-in and carve out a market for products made from crops grown with regenerative principles.
“We set up outreach programs and travel to our sourcing regions to understand the socio-economic context before designing contextualized agronomic and supply systems. We do this to ensure that we sustainably bring economic, social, and ecological benefits to farming communities working with us”, Christoph Langwallner, WhatIF Foods co-founder and CEO.
WhatIF Foods also focuses its efforts around bringing meaningful livelihoods to farming communities with the final pillar on its framework: ‘Reconnect’. Mr Langwallner, with his 20 years in the industry, understands how the long supply chain of the modern agri-food industry does not support its foundational stakeholders: the farming communities. According to FAO STAT (2019), there are approximately 2.6 billion lives connected to farming activities, 74% of them are amongst the poorest of the poor. Forces of climate change and land degradation are making farming harder and less economically viable than ever. Consequently, with little else to live off, many have no choice but to leave their home and make dangerous long crossings for liveable conditions. Mass climate exodus around the world is partly driven by these dynamics of the failing socio-economic structure of the global food system. WhatIF Foods believes it can be part of the solution by providing alternative meaningful and sustainable livelihoods.
Favourable market signals since launch
WhatIF Foods has achieved considerable success in its home market Singapore since launching in June 2020. Starting off as a purely online brand with their website, WhatIF Foods is now widely available in the main supermarket chains in Singapore, and adding retail locations along the way. The company also has global ambitions. It has launched its brand in Malaysia in October 2021, with plans to enter Hong Kong, China, Australia, and the United States within 2022.
The company is building around a rapidly emerging set of urban consumers, who are seeking solutions to lead a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle without compromise. Its positioning of ‘reinventing foods category by category’ strikes a chord with the market’s demand across all categories. Its products are loved by a group of loyal consumers. Approximately 40% of WhatIF Foods’ monthly revenue comes from returning customers, a strong base for the brand to build upon and expand internationally. It hopes to attract even more like-minded supporters through its public statement of intent to regenerate.
New plant milk range launched
Under the WhatIF Way framework, the brand launched a range of plant milk which includes three variants: Airy, Everyday, and Barista. The BamNut Milk Everyday is an all-rounder milk with versatile use for the morning cereal, as it is, or in cooking. The BamNut Milk Barista is created with baristas in mind and has a thick and creamy mouthfeel, frothing up for latte art. The BamNut Milk Airy has the least fat content of the three with no compromise on taste.
[About WhatIF Foods]
WhatIF Foods offers an authentic, nutritious basket of regenerative foods – foods that replenish the nutrients we need throughout our active day; foods that restore land and reconnect us with our values and communities; foods that appreciate the interdependency of our wellbeing because we need nature in cities, life in food, and a purpose in communities. WhatIF Foods aren’t just designed for baby boomers, Gen X, Millennials, or Gen Z – but for the ReGeneration.
Finalist at the Liveability Challenge 2020 and winner of the MIT Solve Food Sustainability Challenge 2020.