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Forward Looking: 5 Things with Arnulfo Ventura

When Arnulfo Ventura came aboard Alter Eco – known for its organic, clean and green sweet snacks and chocolate – as the new CEO in January 2022, he brought with him a deep-seated belief that doing well and doing good don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

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The next generation

Ventura’s mission in the natural foods world doesn’t end with better-for-you, better-for-the-world snacks. He envisions a more inclusive world where he sees more entrepreneurs like himself – Latinx and other people of color (POC) – in the consumer packaged goods industry. This is a cause close to his heart, and in 2020, he helped co-found Project Potluck, a professional community dedicated to helping POC build successful companies and careers. “In the natural space, if you look at representation of POC in leadership positions, we have work to do,” he says. “How do I reach my daughter? How do I reach children like her so they don’t feel like they have to be the first [POC] in this industry?”

Ventura shared five aspects that are key to his leadership and Alter Eco.

1. Think big

“While I was at Stanford Graduate School of Business, I spent time at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. I wanted to start a beverage company with bottles made from plants. The technology wasn’t there then. But now… we’ve made such huge progress. The innovation is really exciting to me—it draws me.”

2. Put your mission front and center

“We’re trying to get more consumers to know our mission,” Ventura says. A big part of that is championing Alter Eco’s cleanest and greenest vision by making packaging that’s backyard compostable. For example, the company’s chocolate truffle wrappers are made of eucalyptus and birch and can be thrown right into the compost bin. Ventura says Alter Eco’s labels are designed with forest imagery to represent regenerative agriculture. “We’re trying to bring the consumer closer to how their purchase can impact the rainforest and countries we source from.”

3. Be a force for good

These days, people are looking for brands they can trust. “For consumers, it used to be that an absence of evil was good enough. The presence of good is what we’re looking for today. For us, it’s one chocolate at a time, it’s one compostable wrapper, it’s one farmer at a time, and, in turn, it’s a better world. That’s a major goal.”

4. Take the long view

“I believe that in our industry there are jet streams, which are different from trends. Those come and go. Jet streams are lasting and enduring. Once we identify them, they seem so obvious – for instance, the no-sugar movement has existed since the Naked Juice days and now you’re seeing it again. Two examples of jet stream products we recently launched [in January] are our granola and our Truffle Thins, which we think can be disruptive. These new products, together with our chocolate in bar format, are a really unique combo, unlike any other on the market.”

5. Leave the world better than you found it

Ventura draws tremendous inspiration from his 13-year-old daughter, Eliana Sofia. “She’s amazing,” he says. “I’m having real-time education conversation with her. I’m teaching her the difference between soil and dirt – that one is alive and one is dead. A lot of my innovation insights come from conversations with her. She’s the future.”