Q&A With Mauro Pennella, President of AgriFORCE Brands

Q: What was it about AgriFORCE that made you want to lead the Brands Division and take on the Chief Marketing Officer role for the company? 

A: I was attracted by the vision of Ingo and the management team. I believe in what they want to achieve, and I welcome the opportunity to help create a new division of the company – AgriFORCE brands.

The recent announcement of a definitive agreement to acquire the food production and processing IP from Manna Nutritional Group is, I believe, a game changer.  This IP naturally processes and converts grain, pulses and root vegetables, resulting in good tasting, low-starch, low-sugar, high-protein, fiber-rich baking flour and food products.  Along with other merger and acquisition targets on the brands side, I think that we have the opportunity to truly redefine how people eat and nourish themselves, and I find this an incredible challenge.

Q: AgriFORCE has just announced the definitive agreement for the acquisition of the Manna IP – what are the next steps with this exciting addition to the AgriFORCE family? 

A: The Manna IP has the potential to change the game, to redefine how people can continue to eat what they like but in a healthier way. Imagine eating breads, pastries, cereals and more and not having to worry about the carbs? That is exciting to think about.

The immediate next steps are threefold: set up a pilot plant, develop a range of consumer products and build a team to look at commercializing them by 2022. We have a lot of work to do, and everyone is excited about what we can achieve.

Q: There is a growing shift in the minds (and hearts) of consumers regarding how and what they eat, where it comes from and how long it takes from cultivation to table – what opportunities do you see with this consumer behaviour change?

A: There are major consumer shifts that range from like the quest for foods that taste better and are good for you, that are sustainably grown and more locally sourced.  There is also a real move towards a more flexitarian diet, and a realization that healthier lifestyles are needed as cases of obesity and diabetes increasing. All of these shifts will impact the food business in the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the need to stay home over the past 18 months have made consumers rediscover the art of cooking at home, and we see this as a very important shift. That is why some of the opportunities ahead of us with the Manna IP fit tremendously well with what consumer are asking for. We want to be able to provide it for them.

Q: Are there trends or evolutions in the consumer market that you feel provide an advantage or opportunity for AgriFORCE?

A: As consumers demand more transparency in where our food comes from along with knowing where and how it was grown, retailers and food service operators will have to put a stronger focus on addressing these needs. I see this trend as a clear opportunity for AgriFORCE. Our Clean. Green. Better. approach will help meet these growing consumer demands.  

Q: What is your overarching goal for the next six months of AgriFORCE? 

A: There are many goals for a company like ours, but clearly one of the main goals is build a clear commercial pipeline for the products that that will be developed from the Manna IP. That is an exciting opportunity.

In addition, we will identify other potential partners to grow our portfolio of brands – working to improve how people eat.