If you’ve paid attention to your surroundings recently, there are some buzzwords in the world of nutrition you surely haven’t missed: plant-based and protein. From the perspective of our stomachs, this can be a complex combination for some.
“When we want our food to be plant-based but also filled with protein, it can be difficult for our digestion,” tells Petteri Kankkunen, the founder and CEO of Potential Foods. “Many new plant-based protein innovations have been widely praised, but the truth is that a lot of them are highly processed.”
To boost his argument, he points to Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who has been widely reported to criticise plant-based meat substitutes for how processed they are, saying they’re good for the planet but not for human health. Similarly to Mackey, Kankkunen believes that we – and our digestive systems – thrive on natural, unprocessed foods.
This is why Potential Foods refers to itself as “food hackers on a quest to create new sustainable superfoods”. The company’s first brand, Nosht, is the first step on the journey, offering gut-friendly sports foods and drinks developed safely and sustainably from natural ingredients and flavours, to also leave behind as little waste as possible.
“Our aim is to be part of the next wave, where plant-based foods are less processed and less perishable but more nutritious and gut-friendly.”
Gentle on the gut
First things first: yes, the pun is intended. The English word ‘nosh’ refers to enthusiastic eating, and by adding the letter ‘t’ the brand wants to say there’s no sh*t included. This, according to Kankkunen, can’t be taken for granted with functional foods like Nosht.
“A lot of functional foods do taste like crap, unfortunately,” he notes. “Thus, it’s great to see our clients first comment on the excellent taste of our products and, only later, notice they’re really gentle on the stomach, too.”
Although it serves pretty much anyone and everyone interested in clean foods and particularly those following a FODMAP diet (a diet that avoids short-chain carbohydrates), the idea for Nosht stems from Kankkunen’s own athletic experiences. As a cyclist spending long days on the bike, he was struggling with gut problems and wanted to find out what he could eat without bugging his stomach.
The team behind Nosht is, in Kankkunen’s words, the kind that you wouldn’t expect to see from a food brand. It combines the effort and expertise of professional athlete Kaisa Sali, who’s also a trained sports nutritionist, and Heikki Liekola, who has worked as a chef in various Michelin-starred restaurants in the Nordics.
“For Heikki, this is an opportunity to create flavours and combinations like never before, making use of his past in fine dining,” Kankkunen explains. “And when it comes to Kaisa, her passion is in healthy food as part of an active lifestyle.”
A whole range of whole foods coming up
With the main target audience being sports folks, such as cyclists, trail runners, hikers and other outdoors lovers, Nosht also wants to keep trash to the minimum.
“Typically, energy gels are individually packed,” Kankkunen gives an example. “We put five servings in one bottle which can be used to fill up a soft flask, so there’s no litter to be left in nature.”
And there’s plenty of nature for Nosht to roam. Although the brand is currently most visible in Finland, the company’s official language is English and it has recently established a subsidiary in Australia, known as Nosht Oceania. On top of this, there are resellers in Spain and France, and the online store delivers items all over the globe, mainly in the EU.
Whilst Nosht is taking on the world, Potential Foods has its finger in various other gut-friendly pies. In the future, there’ll be a range of ready-made meals coming up, utilising the flavours and nutrients of fermented vegetables and legumes. These, however, won’t go under the name Nosht.
“We’re not just about one product or one brand,” Kankkunen says. “Our playing field is the entire world of healthy, natural food.”