Daily Crunch Interview: Busy for the Bees
Almonds Bee-Certified. While it might not be quite as easy as 1, 2, 3, Daily Crunch is spelling it out for us just in time for Earth Day.
Daily Crunch is nuts about almonds, but they are focused on so much more-- sustainability, saving the bees, and mental health awareness, to name a few. We spoke to Laurel Orley, the CEO and co-founder of Daily Crunch Snacks, about how Daily Crunch is sprouting more than just almonds.
"Batch has been such an amazing partner. They have believed in us from the beginning, and it’s just so wonderful to see them grow through a year that has been such an emotional rollercoaster for so many."—Laurel
Batch: Tell me a little more about the post-recycled plastic that your bags are now. How does that work?
Our bags are the “last life” of plastic bags. Instead of using new plastic, which is 99% of the bags you see on shelves, we take recycled plastic and reuse it for our packaging. Even though compostable is really hot right now, there are a number of setbacks. If you buy a compostable bag and throw it in a trash bin, it goes in a landfill. Just like regular plastic, it’s practically never gonna break down.
Is it more expensive as a small business owner to switch to these green methods? How do you respond to small business owners who think that green efforts and cost are contradictory?
The additional costs make it difficult for startup companies such as ourselves, who need to stick to very specific margins. Daily Crunch is a brand that we want to embody who we are. The environmental impact that we have is very important to us. While we initially launched with cheaper plastic bags, we were not very happy about it. Being a startup brand, we found that recycled plastic bags and compostable plastic bags are much more expensive than regular plastic bags. In some cases they can be double the price. So, it really breaks into our margins. Post-consumer recycled bags are the middle-ground solution that we chose.
We hope that with us moving to post-recycled packaging, other companies will follow. The more companies that follow, the more people use compostable or non-plastic material, it will continue to evolve. But, it starts with step one.
I don’t think anyone is saying that it’s not worth it, but we have potential investors asking about our margins and about our bottom line. For us as a brand that’s just starting out, we need to do it based on what we believe in. Some people ask “why is your product more expensive than regular almonds that I can get off the street?” This is one of the reasons. Most importantly, we are a more premium product because of how we source our ingredients. And, on top of that, the environmental impact is going to be more expensive. Our almonds are not so premium that we feel like people can’t afford them, but they’re never going to be the same cost as Blue Diamond.
As a Nashville resident, parent, and small business owner, how would you describe green practices here in Nashville?
I can only speak as an observer not an expert, but I think it’s all relative. If you go to San Francisco right now, you can’t even use plastic bags. You can’t find them anywhere. Like the fact that I have to pay extra every month to recycle my glass-- it goes to show that Nashville still has a ways to go. I think we are starting to build momentum with other food brands who have the same ideations as Daily Crunch, but we have a lot of work to do. We want Nashville to have healthier brand options and a smaller eco-footprint.
You are the first snack company to source all almonds from bee-certified farmers. What exactly does that mean?
Kind Bar made an announcement in September of last year, that they are the first snack company to source almonds from bee-friendly farmers, but they’re not rolling it out until 2025. So we said, “Oh my gosh, we know we’re a lot smaller than Kind right now, but we’re doing this right now for 100% of our almonds.”
I love how small companies are so much more agile than big ones.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy that Kind Bar is doing this, and that they are helping this movement. They put out a HUGE press release. They got like a hundred articles about this. And that’s great, but I was so shocked that they just announced this in August and it’s going to take them years to actually implement it. This is really important to a lot of people, and we need to make it clearer that our almonds don’t have pesticides on them.
I had no idea there was a correlation between bees and almonds, and how pesticides used would affect that.
Bees cross-pollinate almonds from blossom to blossom. Honey bee hives grow stronger from the almond bloom. Commercial beekeepers who send their bees to almond farms are seeing their bees die in record numbers. These bees, essential to various food industries and the ecosystem, are being killed. Fortunately, interest in protecting pollinators is gaining significant momentum in the industry. This has created a farm level certification program which aims to improve bee habitats and restrict pesticide use. Some people say that the almonds that are treated with pesticides are killing the bees. This is where almonds are getting a really bad reputation. We work with Treehouse Almonds, an almond farm that are bee-friendly farmers. Daily Crunch supports a movement to protect the bees. Our farmer is a part of the Pollinator Partnership, to promote the health of pollinators critical to food and ecosystems through conservation, education, and research. Not only are we not killing the bees, but we’re also helping them re-pollinate.
I think this all explains why we’re a premium product. You should know what you’re putting in your mouth. A lot of the other almonds being sold in mainstream supermarkets have pesticides on them, are killing the bees, and are not good for you. To date, 54,202 acres of almonds have been bee friendly certified in the United States, and farmers are just really actively protecting pollinator populations by implementing positive changes on farms across the nation. The majority of our product is our almonds, and it’s really important that people understand why they’re paying a premium price for them.
It really is amazing how much of the mainstream consumer doesn’t know anything about this, but they really should. Now we have educated ourselves to know that our almonds don’t hurt bee populations.
[Diane Orley and Laurel Orley, Head Nuts of Daily Crunch Snacks]
At Daily Snacks, you guys have such a huge emphasis on mental health awareness. In what ways are sustainable practices and mental health related?
We believe that mental health and physical health go hand in hand. It’s important for us to give consumers products that are the best possible ingredients to feel good inside and out. But, there’s a much deeper story to this. My business partner, my aunt, lost her son to suicide when he was at the University of Michigan seven years ago. He struggled with bipolar disorder, and this is something that has been a huge mission of her life to break the stigma. I don’t know if you know this, but the majority of mental health illnesses come out between ages 18 and 22, when they’re in college. Diane, my aunt, and her family started The Support Network. We donate a portion of all sales to their mission to help raise awareness of mental health on college campuses. Suicide rates are out of control on college campuses, and for people to have an outlet of someone they can talk to, somewhere they can get tools to help them —it can help save lives. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re doing a huge giveback program where we’re giving $5,000 to the Support Network, and we’re trying to do a match program for our followers to match. One of my personal goals is to open a Support Network on the Vanderbilt University campus this year. It really takes a village to start this kind of thing, and so we need your help, Batch’s help, lots of people. Mental health is something that is very personal to us. People want to know the people behind the brand and this is who we are. Last week would have been George’s 28th birthday. George always believed in random acts of kindness.
Consider us on your team.
To wrap up, gratitude is a big thing here at Batch. As we get closer to Earth Day, what is something you are grateful for?
On this Earth Day, I am grateful for the small and big brands across the world that, even though it can be difficult, are moving the needle to make a difference for our children and our children’s children. Plastic is not the answer; there are alternative solutions that are helping brands move together towards this mission of sustainability.
Each brand that decides to make sustainability a center value for what they do just inspires others to do so as well. Rewriting the script together, you know?
Daily Crunch has some new flavors in the works. You’re going to want to be on the lookout.