Nutiva’s MCT Protein Powder crafted with plants hits on keto, vegan trends – podcast

An innovative product mixed with a company culture that gives back to the environment scores Nutiva a finalist’s spot in the 2020 NEXTY Awards.

Sandy Almendarez, VP of Content

March 18, 2020

Nutiva’s new Organic MCT Protein offers innovation in a saturated protein powder market, and the company commits itself to worthy environmental causes, leading to the honor of finalist for the 2020 NEXTY Awards in the Best New Supplement Category.

The Organic MCT Protein powders hit on several trends, including plant-based ingredients, non-GMO, keto, paleo, vegan, dairy free, grain free, gluten free and sugar free. The medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) powder is derived from organic coconuts, and organic plant protein powder comes from pea, sunflower, pumpkin seed and hemp seeds. Available in vanilla and chocolate, it offers 6 g of MCTs, 20 g of plant protein and 4 g of branched chain amino acids per serving. It also contains the prebiotic acacia fiber.

In this podcast, Steve Naccarato, CEO, Nutiva, talks with Sandy Almendarez, content director, Informa Markets, about the product’s ingredient selection and formulation, as well as the company’s philanthropic efforts. They cover:

  • The market niche Nutiva saw before launch to ensure it didn’t release just another protein powder in a crowded market.

  • Why the company chose to use pea protein isolate when the rest of proteins in the product were in whole form

  • Nutiva’s commitment to regenerative agriculture and its program that plants fruit tree orchards in Richmond community schools

The 2020 NEXTY Award winners from Expo West will be revealed live on on March 25, 2020 at 2 p.m. MST. Click here for more information.


Podcast transcript:

Sandy Almendarez, content director, Informa Markets: Hi and welcome to a Healthy Insider Podcast. I'm Sandy, and on the phone, I have Steve Naccarato who is the CEO of Nutiva. Hi, Steve.

Steve Naccarato, CEO, Nutiva: Hi Sandy. Thanks so much for having me on the call.

Almendarez: I'm so happy to be talking with you about the Nutiva’s new product, the Organic MCT Protein Powders, which is a finalist for Best New Supplement in the NEXTY awards. Nutiva’s Organic MCT Protein Powder is a powdered supplement made with fast-burning MCTs and plant-based protein. The MCT powder is derived from organic coconuts, and organic plant protein powder from pea, sunflower, pumpkin seed and hemp seeds. Available in vanilla and chocolate, it offers 6 g of MCTs, 20 g of plant protein and 4 g of branched chain amino acids per serving. It also contains the prebiotic acacia fiber. It's a non-GMO product verified, keto certified, certified paleo, vegan, dairy free, grain free and naturally gluten free, and it has no added sugar or stevia, and yet, it tastes really great.

Steve, the market is not void of protein powders. Why did Nutiva decide to launch this product now, and what need does it fill in the market?

Naccarato: Well, certainly Nutiva is concentrated its product line offering organic ingredients, plant-based ingredients, and we felt there was a need for an opportunity to take the synergistic value of organic plant proteins along with the MCT oil that we've powderized. And on a bed of gum acacia and bring a product that can be used more often for those who are looking for a burst of energy along with their daily protein requirements, and so we thought putting the two together would be the best scenario for a protein user to be able to experience the benefit of the MCT without having to add that to a product that wasn't formulated. A protein shake that hadn't been formulated with MCTs may not have the right kind of flavor profile that they're used to. We also know that some people are a little bit uncomfortable with oil intake and so by putting the MCT in a powdered format and adding it to the protein, it actually makes it more bioavailable and from a gastro standpoint, it makes it more appealing for those that do have a sensitivity around that, so they get a chance to enjoy the benefits of medium-chain triglycerides within a plant-based protein.

Almendarez: Let's talk about the R&D process. I know you have quite a history with coconuts, but why did you choose this blend of proteins? And why did you focus on the MCTs from coconuts? And how long did this go from ideation to final product?

Naccarato: Well, that's a great question. We wanted to develop a plan protein that had a comprehensive amino acid profile in order to do that, it's important to blend a range of plant-based proteins. The selection of pea protein, sunflower, pumpkin seed as well as our hemp protein, which we’re known for being a hemp company. It was really important for us to get that selection to build the right amino acid profile to allow it to have the 4 g of BCAAS to support muscle growth, support recovery time, and so that that was that was really the reason for the blend.

Almendarez: Nutiva itself, has made many products. I think I read a bio that said over 400, and then you also play in the private label space. Does it take a long time for you to create a product at this point? Or for you guys, it's pretty much old hat and you can go from ideation to final product quickly?

Naccarato: Thanks for that question. The benefit of Nutiva having been primary in the space of vertical integration around ingredients for the last 20 years is the fact that we have these deep relationships where the products are grown. And with that, we really learned the benefits of the ingredients. And able to figure out very interesting combinations that take advantage of nutritional benefits of ingredients as well as make them more flavorful and make them appealing to the consumer base. That's really, really an opportunity that we have because we are deep within the supply chain.

Almendarez: Makes sense. Why did you choose to use pea protein isolate when all of the other proteins are not in isolate form?

Naccarato: The pea protein is interesting. Pea protein on its own is a concern around the bioavailability. By having it done in a cold-water filtration method helps us remove some of the starch and the fiber. It allows the pea protein to have a protein content of around 80%, which is very close to what a whey protein is, what most consumers are familiar with. By doing that in an isolate form, it makes it more digestible for humans, and really improves that from a benefit versus just taking it and milling it down and making it available. We also add an enzyme based that that it improves the bioavailability from 90% in an isolate to making it a 95% potential with the added digestive enzymes.

Almendarez: I want to switch gears and talk about the philanthropy and other good things that Nutiva is doing. So you've invested 1% of all sales to support ethical organic farming communities, regenerative agriculture and farming techniques. How does this work? And why is this important for Nutiva?

Naccarato: It's interesting in conversations with retailers early on, we felt the importance that the company was developed on the basis of values in a mission. And when we put the company together, it was because we saw an opportunity with, at that time our first ingredient being hemp, as an opportunity because it's a bio aggregator that cleans soil. We saw that as a great opportunity to solve some of the ecological issues the world was facing and this is back in ‘99 when most people didn't think about the earth or soil in that way. And we thought, “Well, if we're going to sell a product, we need to make sure that there's some sort of payback or an opportunity; that we were able to make an investment back into back into the environment, in particular back into the soil.” And so, we have been applying a 1% of our sales back to sustainable regenerative agriculture since ’99. That has amassed reinvestment of about US$5,000,000 since 1999. It's around putting the money into programs that really helped to change either the food system through an advocacy process or putting the money. Into programs that support communities where we've been able to do certain beneficial programs, whether it's at the primary supply base of where we sourced ingredients, or it's been in our own community here in Richmond to help schools develop organic tree farms and organic fruit offerings. It's been very beneficial. We think it's very important to do that. We certainly didn't do it because we felt that their brands needed to market a situation. We felt that it was necessary from a point of doing it because it's truly embedded in the core values of the company; it’s what we believe in.

Almendarez: That's wonderful, and let's explore further in the last point that you touched on about work, you're doing it in your hometown of Richmond. What is the City Fruit Tree initiative, and what has Nutiva done to support this program?

Naccarato: We came into the Richmond area in 2012. If you can imagine in 2012, sort of before a lot of the investment from the spike in the in the tech industry here in the in the Bay Area, this this part of the Bay certainly did not have the low levels of unemployment rates are currently has. It was a little bit stressed, and we came in here in a building that hadn't been occupied for a few years, and we said, “Look, if we're going to come into the community, we're going to be part of the community.” We made a commitment to put fruit tree orchards in 26 of the Richmond community schools. We partnered with a local group to be able to help us do that. We did that over a period of about five years, and we're very proud about that. And those trees, and that organic program continues on here. It's just so fulfilling when I drive by some of those schools on my way to the office in the morning and am able to see that reason and be able to know that some of the schools continue to run various programs teaching the kids about organic farming, but also the fact that there is on-property organic fruit.

Almendarez: Wow, that is so great. I love that program and just how it's teaching so much about a connection to the soil to food. And the next generation can grow these great products as well. Thank you so much, Steve, for joining me today on this podcast to talk about a Nutiva’s organic MCT protein as well as some other initiatives that you're up to. Again, that MCT protein is a finalist for the Best New Supplement Category of the NEXTY awards. Thanks, again.

Naccarato: Thanks, Sandy. Thanks for having me.

About the Author(s)

Sandy Almendarez

VP of Content, Informa


• Well-known subject matter expert within the health & nutrition industry with more than 15 years’ experience reporting on natural products.

• She cares a lot about how healthy products are made, where their ingredients are sourced and how they affect human health.

• She knows that it’s the people behind the businesses — their motivations, feelings and emotions — drive industry growth, so that’s where she looks for content opportunities.

Sandy Almendarez is VP of Content for SupplySide and an award-winning journalist. She oversees the editorial and content marketing teams for the B2B media brands Natural Products Insider and Food and Beverage Insider, the education programming for the health and nutrition trade shows SupplySide East and SupplySide West, and community engagement across the SupplySide portfolio. She is a seasoned content strategist with a passion for health, good nutrition, sustainability and inclusion. With over 15 years of experience in the health and nutrition industry, Sandy brings a wealth of knowledge to her role as a content-focused business leader. With specialization in topics ranging from product development to content engagement, creative marketing and c-suite decision making, her work is known for its engaging style and its relevance for business leaders in the health and nutrition industry.

In her free time, Sandy loves running, drinking hot tea and watching her two kids grow up. She brews her own “Sandbucha” homemade kombucha; she’s happy to share if you’re ever in Phoenix!


Speaker credentials

Resides in

  • Phoenix, AZ


  • Arizona State University


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