Hamutal Yitzhak, co-founder, director and CEO of Else Nutrition, gives us a look behind the scenes of this young but incredibly fast-growing company that focuses on organic, plant-based nutrition for infants and toddlers.
Please tell us about Else Nutrition and how it came about
Else’s founders are veterans of the infant nutrition industry. I was the head of the Israeli Abbott Similac operation for many years, and another of my co-founders headed up the Nestlé brand of infant formula. We’re experts in this field. The idea of Else Nutrition was conceived when one of the founder's grandchildren developed an allergy to dairy.
We produce organic, plant-based, minimally processed baby formula. Almonds are the basis of our product – they’re a very nutrient-dense ingredient and the fatty acids profile found in almonds is somewhat similar to that of breast milk. Together, buckwheat, almonds, and tapioca make up the standard composition of our infant formula, which we aim to keep as close as possible to the golden standard of breast milk.
It took a long time to get to where we are today mainly due to technological challenges, and stringent rules and regulations around infant and toddler nutrition.
How prevalent are dairy allergies in infants and has this changed over the last 50 years?
Dairy allergies are definitely on the rise, although it doesn’t impact a very high percentage of the population. Intolerance, in particular, is certainly on the rise and I feel it’s important to differentiate between the two. Examples of a dairy intolerance can be difficulty digesting, acid reflux, or other mild symptoms, while allergies are more extreme, can cause anaphylactic shock, and can be detected with a blood test.
I would say between 40 and 50% of the infant population in the US falls under the category of being both intolerant and/or allergic, but the majority of this percentage is intolerant.
The problem with corn is that it’s generally genetically modified. The glycemic index of corn syrup is also very high – therefore it contains high levels of sugar.
Our main aim is to educate the new generation on the best form of nutrition for their babies. We first want to create a plant-based choice within this industry, then educate the population on how to make better choices and consume minimally processed, plant-based, wholefood ingredients. We hope to change the face of infant nutrition forever.
We produce and sell our products in the US but our headquarters are in Israel. In the US, we’re currently in almost 1,000 retail stores and are available on Amazon. We expect to be introduced to the European market this year, and thereafter in Asia. At the moment our products can be found internationally on iHerb.
Right now we’re focused on those who are looking for an alternative to dairy because we believe our product is of superior quality to soy-based alternatives. Those who are vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, health-conscious, or who have allergies or intolerances are also part of our target market.
Some people still believe dairy is best because they feel it’s the most similar to breast milk. This is fine, but hopefully one day they’ll come round to understanding that plant-based nutrition is certainly not inferior to animal-based foods, provided you receive the proper nutritional profile.
I think people will begin to understand that going plant-based is their best option for maintaining good health. I’ve been researching this my entire life and I know this is the case. I’m not suggesting that everybody has to take extreme measures and become solely vegan – simply cutting down on animal products will have a huge impact on one’s wellbeing.
There are many adults who have adopted this lifestyle already. With infant nutrition (with the exception of soy-based products) there was never a choice until the existence of Else. However, it’s of equal importance to consume not only plant-based foods but minimally processed and wholefood ingredients, too. There’s so much scientific data that backs these claims, it is absolutely irrefutable.