Interview with Thorsten Lüttger
Co-Founder @ bergtau Natural Foods GmbH

bergtau offers frozen ready to go premium smoothies, which are convenient and healthy. Regular smoothies in the supermarket are not healthy at all, with some containing more sugar than a can of coke... bergtau smoothies contain less sugar, more vitamins and, of course, they taste great! Learn more about bergtau here.
How have you grown bergtau since you first founded the company last year? We hear you're opening ALOT of stores soon!
How have you grown bergtau? In the beginning, we tested our assumptions, food and product wise, with basically employees of companies who care for the well-being of their employees, and shape a lot around the taste with what people like, the kind of ingredients. And then we quickly went on to test this in the market - in the food service industry with coffee places - and learned a lot about how to market and sell at a point-of-sale and the needs of the food industry or the coffee places are. And, in the beginning of this year, we met the CEO of Edeka - one of Germany's largest retailers - and actually, he ordered a lot of smoothies with us, which made us quite happy and proud. And actually, he said, "Hey, let's test it nationwide." So we'll be over 4000 stores, and it's actually starting this Monday, the 12th of August which is a very, very important day for us because we will be featured for one week. And yeah, are really looking forward to this because this is the real test, with enough data points we are looking at. That's probably the biggest milestone we have so far, and it's just happening this Monday. So yeah: go into the stores, buy our products. We have four kinds: the purple one, the yellow one, the green one and the chocolate one, which are all very tasty and special in their ways. And yeah, we love to hear your feedback!
Hi Thorsten! Could you please introduce your work with bergtau Natural Foods and tell us a bit more about what led to your founding the company?
Hello, my name is Thorsten Lüttger, and then one of the co-founders of bergtau Natural Foods. bergtau offers frozen ready to plan premium smoothies, which are convenient and healthy. They contain less sugar, more vitamins and, of course, they do taste great! Most of the foods in supermarkets, from our opinion, are not as healthy as they might appear. Think of smoothies: many of them contain more sugar than a Coke. That's something we wanted to change. And on the other hand, if you do your smoothies on your own it's a lot of strenuous work. So I changed my nutrition regime about eight years ago, and of course, I bought a blender to put more greens into my body and realized, "Hey, that's really cool, blending your own stuff." And we called it a little bit the "mixer" or "blender euphoria", because after six to eight weeks the euphoria was over. I realized I have to buy the ingredients, go to grocery, I have to wash, I have to cut them, I find the recipe. So in the end, it actually tastes for all the work we made, and then you get a result which was not so pleasant. And then I realized, "Okay. I have to create something which is simpler." So I froze the ingredients, I realized this is not so smart, and then I put them recipe-wise together, at home in bags, into the freezer. And this seemed to work every morning, and I liked the taste. And friends saw that and said, "Hey, that's cool. I would like to have it as well." A little bit in the beginning I was reluctant, and then everybody said, "Hey, that's the idea. So let's do this." So this is the story with the blender euphoria, how it all started, to make it easier to blend proper smoothies at your place, at home.
How is the natural food market changing today? Where do you see the industry in five years?
How is natural food markets changing today? I think it will - especially in the industrialized nations - will grow quite quickly, and we are more aware of what we are eating, especially if it's meat or not. So, I think the social pressure will arise as well: if you eat somehow Earth conscious or planet conscious as well, what's your carbon dioxide footprint of stuff you ate. I'm not thinking as we all turn vegans in the blink of an eye - or that we turn vegans at all - but I'm pretty sure that we will eat less meat, and this is something which will grow much stronger in the next years. For instance, my grandparents: they ate meat once a once a week, on a Sunday. And I think if you go back this way it's not only a health matter, which is good for you, but for the environment as well which, in the end, is good for you as well. So we are saying, not necessarily more vegans, but more vegan for everybody.
What separates bergtau from other natural food companies, what is your USP?
What is our USP? Being a natural food company I think is the first step, but it's not enough, it must be heath as well. Because if you have natural food products which consists all of fruits, we think it's not healthy because it has just too much sugar. No matter if the sugar is from a natural source or from a processed source, in the end it makes you fat - so this is something we want to avoid. And, there are companies out there which claim to be natural and you open their products, and you see powder coming out of it. This powder could be anything. For us it's important, because this is highly processed, for us it's important that if you see a product, you see the ingredients and ideally, you can even name them. So this is what we do with our transparent cup: you can look inside, you see the products. And, as I said, natural is only the first step. The second step is being healthy. This means our products, or bergtau, will never do food-only products, because we think this is not healthy. Our products always come with healthy fats and vegetables. This has two components. One component is: overall, you have less natural sugar inside, and this less natural sugar is more slowly metabolized from your body. So you're longer satiated, you don't have a sugar high and a sugar low - you're longer satiated. This is what we think is better. And, on the other hand, we don't do again organic, actually, because we want to reach to the masses and want to show them, "Hey, it's better to eat broccoli or vegetable products, instead of something like super organic agave syrup which you put into your stuff - this doesn't make your product healthy." And by the way, our cups are made of corn starch, so we are aware of our planet as well.
What's next for your work with bergtau? What are the main markets, projects and partnerships you'll be focusing on throughout the next year?
What's next for bergtau? For our original blend frozen smoothie we are focusing on two channels: one is the foodservice channel, and the other one is the retail market because we have this cooperation going on with Netto, that's this competitor of Edeka, one of the largest retailers in Germany. We're really focused on that. We have the launch this Monday, the coming Monday, on the 12th of August - so you'll find all our four tastes nationwide in Germany, in over 4000 supermarkets in the freezer, which we are really happy and confident about. And the other thing: we will work on other product categories, yes, but we keep it step-by-step. And one thing is pretty precise already but this is something I can't tell you now, the secret. This is something maybe for a later story. So I hope this was interesting to you, and bye from Cologne, and have a good day.