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Coconut Yoghurt for a Healthier World with Tesh Randall

People, planet, and profit — this is the triple bottom line of a business aiming to do good in the world. Any company can use this concept to impact its community positively. In this last episode of the series highlighting B Corporations striving to be climate solutions, we share how a business can go beyond its product to benefit the environment. Sometimes, climate solutions come from places you might not expect — like coconut yogurt.

What started as a need for a non-dairy yogurt alternative turned out to be a huge venture for Tesh Randall, co-founder of Raglan Food Co. Some businesses stop at delivering a great product and having smooth operations, but Tesh knew she could do more. She wanted her business to be a tool for good, so she pushed the company to become Carbon Zero certified and a B Corporation, in addition to its initiatives for the community and the environment. She’s turned coconut yogurt into an avenue for creating a better future.

Tesh’s Journey to Raglan Food Co.

Before Raglan Food Co., Tesh was a writer and had a copywriting agency. She was looking for a dairy-free yogurt option and ended up making coconut yogurt herself. She once made two extra jars and put them up for sale, only to find a huge demand for her product. Coconut yogurt was an excellent product due to its creaminess — something that yogurts made from nut milks and other non-dairy materials didn’t have.

Raglan Food Co. prides itself on its high-quality products and is the first yogurt company in New Zealand to use glass jars. They also go beyond just doing business as usual. Raglan Food Co. has a community fund dedicated to helping people, the environment, and the community. They also pay their employees well above minimum wage while providing a health and well-being fund.

Businesses’ Responsibility to the Environment

Raglan Food Co. is the first carbon-zero-certified yogurt company in New Zealand. Tesh has been following and advocating for climate change ever since she watched Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. For her, owning a business adds a layer of responsibility to the environment, and she wants to be part of the solution, not the problem.

“The carbon zero journey… is part of trying to do things better, trying to actually take some responsibility for the impact that you have as a business because it doesn’t matter how good your product is, you’re definitely contributing to emissions in some way just by using freight and power and all the things that go into making something.”

What a Carbon-Zero Certified Business Looks Like

When you want to create a carbon-zero-certified business, here are a few places to begin:

  • Track and measure your emissions

The product manufacturing process can be a source of improvement, such as taking stock of the waste being produced by your products, the power you use for manufacturing, the amount of water used, and even the shipping and movements.

  • Being innovative with solutions

Tesh shares that they developed a system to reduce water usage. They filter the water they use and pump it to the avocado farm for the farmers to use for irrigation.

  • Learn to recycle

Raglan Food Co. takes recycling seriously. They not only recycle the stainless steel drums their coconut cream comes in, but they also recycle the pallets and cardboard their jars come in. They go as far as getting carpet tiles from the landfill and buying secondhand furniture for their office.

Tesh shares, “There are so many little things…but if you have that mindset of, ‘we’re going to try and do things better and reduce our footprint,’ then you’re kind of looking for those things to do. Whereas if you weren’t part of a program like that, you probably wouldn’t think about it, because you’re just trying to get stuff done and make a product.”

Carbon-zero certification pushes companies to offset their carbon footprint, but it’s possible to do more and be climate positive.

What’s Next for Raglan Food Co.?

Raglan Food Co. doesn’t just create environmentally friendly coconut yogurt. They’re aiming to become climate-positive — something only 20 businesses in New Zealand can claim to be right now. Being climate-positive means contributing to offsetting beyond your carbon footprint by at least 25%.

In addition, they’re boosting their community initiatives through a community fund and program called the Vibe Lifter award. This award asks people nationwide to nominate someone making a difference in their community, and the company will give them a grant. They’re also paying staff to be paid volunteers for cleanups and help with other environmental causes.

“You can’t just kind of do the bare minimum. Like you do that, but then you have to go above and do more.”

Raglan Food Co.’s Challenges

As a B Corp, you must ensure that your entire operation, from supply to shelf, is conscious of its impact. That means you have to track the carbon from your suppliers too.

However, according to Tesh, getting accurate data from the other companies you work with is critical. An incorrect quote from a supplier might dramatically change your estimated carbon footprint by twenty tons — or more.

How to Get Started

For businesses looking to be part of the climate solution, Tesh recommends starting with a certification program. However, be careful of greenwashing. Not all initiatives are out to make a difference — some are only in it for the optics. Tesh shares that “if it seems too good to be true, or too easy, it probably is. Just make sure it’s recognized, it’s been around for a while, they have good systems, you get an account manager who will actually go through everything with you. Do some homework.”

How the Finances Work

Focusing solely on profit won’t benefit the people or the planet. On the other hand, you can’t focus only on people and the planet either. There needs to be a balance to everything. If you find your business lacking in one of the three aspects, find someone to fill in the gap.

Tesh reminds us, “if you don’t naturally have that strength as a business owner, then you really need someone in your team with that strength. Because it is so important. If you’re not making money, you can’t pay people, you can’t run any programs, you can’t do anything…You have to have the income coming in to be able to do anything else.”

Having people who believe in or share your vision is also essential. They should also care about doing good, not just about the profits.

Remember, “you can’t go in and just say something really fluffy, like, ‘I’d like to get everyone amazing Christmas presents this year,’ or ‘I’d like to start a profit share program’, you have to come in with a bit of a strategy and a plan around that.”

How Investors Affect the Business

Tesh hesitated to take on investors due to their potential impact on the business. Their first investor was during the second year of their business. Fortunately, their first investor also believed in their product and had the expertise to build factories. Although the investor started with dairy products, they could use the same knowledge for coconut yogurt. Recently, they took on another investor who could help them expand internationally.

Tesh advises that “it was just looking for the right partnership fit, not looking just at the money, and looking at what they can actually offer their business, how they can contribute. Does it make sense for the business to work with these people? Because I think what happens a lot with investment decisions, or just from talking to people is people can just get a little bit desperate for the money. They’re like, we really need it, we can’t grow, or we want to build this, we want to fund this and just want to take the money. They almost just say yes to whoever comes along. Then you’re stuck with them.”

Tesh and Raglan Food Co. were able to be discerning of which investors they accepted by being frugal. Tesh shares that they had to be clever about managing their assets. Raglan Food Co. did everything from using secondhand items to repurposing much of what would have been their waste products. They don’t just stick to coconut yogurt, either. They repurpose their materials, such as steel drums, into new products.

What Tesh Learned

Tesh shares, “I think there is almost no better personal development program than having a business. You could sign up for a lot of courses and conferences, but you’ll learn so much about yourself and other people from the kind of responsibility and challenge of running a business.”

Running a business is a big responsibility. But it can be a vehicle for doing good in the world — and self-improvement besides. Whether you’re aiming to make a huge corporation, a carbon offsetting company, or a coconut yogurt business, anyone can contribute to a better future.

Learn More Tesh and Raglan Food Co.

Latesha, or Tesh, Randall is the co-founder of Raglan Food Co., New Zealand’s first certified Carbon zero yogurt company, the Winner of the Gourmet Food Award in 2015, a Certified B Corporation, and a supporter of environmental initiatives. They’re on a mission to help people shift to a plant-based diet through coconut yogurt and Kefir probiotic yogurts. Raglan Food Co.’s products are available in over 750 stores and cafes around New Zealand and exported to other countries, including Singapore, Hong Kong, China, the United Arab Emirates, and the Pacific Islands.

Tesh is also the Founding Trustee of The Values Trust, a group dedicated to making a difference in Aotearoa for Climate, Creatures, and Children’s Literacy. She is also the Director at Daisy Lab, a company dedicated to pioneering precision fermentation technology for dairy protein production without using cows.

You can connect with Tesh on LinkedIn and the Raglan Food Co. website.

Profit is a tool every business needs to succeed. No matter how noble your mission is, managing your finances is crucial to ensuring your company thrives and grows in the face of financial adversity. At The Profit Reimagined™, we do more than just provide generic virtual CFO services. We aim to understand your mission and vision so that we can devise financial strategies that suit your company’s goals. What kind of impact do you want to make? Who are you aiming to help?

If you want to grow your team to ensure that your company serves its purpose beyond profit, a CFO can help you figure out your next best move. Schedule a discovery call with Profit Reimagined™ to help you cover your foundations and deepen your understanding of these concepts.

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