Many RDs may have aspirations of creating their own food product, but very few know where to start. Kara Landau, APD, AN, is an Australian prebiotic-focused dietitian based in New York City and the founder at Uplift Food. Uplift Food recently released its first product, Daily Uplifter protein powder, a common allergen-free, powdered mix packed with gut-nourishing prebiotics designed to improve gut health and mood. Each serving provides 5 g prebiotic soluble fiber from Jerusalem artichoke and green banana flour. Daily Uplifter can be blended into smoothies and shakes, sprinkled onto breakfast cereals, or mixed into pancake batter for improved gut health. RD Lounge (RDL) had the opportunity to speak with the “Travelling Dietitian” herself about the journey to creating her own product line.
RDL: Why did you decide to start Uplift Food?
Landau: I had advocated over the years for people to get more nutrients into their diets supporting both gut and mental health. I felt there was a gaping hole in the market for a product that combined these nutrients and specialty ingredients, such as green banana resistant starch and natural sources of vitamin D. After many years of assisting other companies in the health food space, I thought it was time to take a risk and bring to life what I strongly felt was a missing category globally.
RDL: What were the first steps you took in the planning process?
Landau: It started in 2012 when I did research for my first book, The Clean Separation, and initially sourced a lot of the science behind my nutrition recommendations. From there, I continued to stay current on the latest science in the gut-brain connection so that when I brought a product to market, it could stand up with credibility. From there I researched manufacturers, labeling requirements, and design elements. My laptop and I became very good friends!
RDL: How did you go about the research and development process?
Landau: After I did my initial online research, I reached out to anyone I knew within the healthful food space and to get recommendations on manufacturers and other elements of bringing a product to life. Once I had gathered and sifted through all the info, I started reaching out to suppliers and gradually joined the dots. The main part of the development process was done in my kitchen. I had kitchen scales, multiple specialty ingredients I aimed to incorporate, and a blender. I just kept mixing away and measuring gram for gram until I got something that I thought could be a product.
RDL: Who were some of the key players involved with bringing your vision to market?
Landau: Funny enough, there haven’t been many external people at this stage—talk about playing jack-of-all-trades. The only outsiders involved were the ingredient buyers who helped me source quality ingredients at good prices, given they buy in bulk [for] multiple clients. And the buyer’s in-house food technologist, who tested and slightly adjusted my recipe around flavor to ensure palatability before going into commercial production. I then arranged packaging and design, built my website, and organized logistics.
RDL: What was your biggest learning curve during the product development process?
Landau: Things take a lot of time. Packaging in particular was challenging. You may want to move at lightning speed and do everything as efficiently as possible, but there are always going to be others involved [who] put the brakes on you. I would recommend piecing together as many elements simultaneously so you can continue moving forward [if other things are delayed].
RDL: What advice would you give to other RDs who are looking to start their own product line?
Landau: Take a good look at what’s currently in the market and what’s missing. Try creating something based on your area of expertise, and surround yourself with people who can help align your vision with something that will ultimately benefit consumers. It’s definitely not easy, but the heart warmth you’ll feel seeing colleagues and consumers benefiting from your product is something words can’t ever do justice.
— Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT, is the owner of Team with ME: Nutrition & Fitness Consulting, a communications and corporate wellness company based at the Jersey Shore. She’s the creator and author of the couples’ nutrition blog Nutrition Nuptials. A former advertising executive, Mandy combines her business expertise with nutrition knowledge to assist colleagues in building their businesses through branding, advertising, and relationship skills through her signature The BAR Method e-course. Learn more about Mandy at www.mandyenright.com, and follow her on social media @mandyenrightRD.