Alfonso Tejada's Palmini is the latest product put out by O A Foods. The company is an offshoot of his family's business in Bolivia. For years, they sold farm equipment to Bolivian quinoa farmers. This led Tejada to start importing quinoa in 2012 under the O A Foods umbrella. Quinoa is a favorite staple for vegans and vegetarians. The carnivore writing this likes it too.
If you don't know what quinoa is, it's a grain-like product that's gluten-free and packed with protein. While it looks, tastes and eats like a grain, it's more like a vegetable. O A Foods plugged along quite nicely for years importing and selling quinoa in 10, 25 & 50 pound bags. They also sell chia seeds, which are a high protein and fiber food.
All this is great, but people still like PASTA. As a result, Tejada developed a low-calorie, gluten-free pasta substitute called Palmini. It's a canned, linguine style noodle made from hearts of palm. He thinks the product is going to be HUGE. So huge, he gave it its own website. While selling healthy foods is a profitable business for Tejeda, he knows an accessible product, like pasta, has a much better chance of breaking into the mainstream.
While the business has a lot of customers and good distribution, Tejada knows a Shark can help him spread awareness and distribution for Palmini quickly. He likely wants a Shark's help with getting onto store shelves quickly. Will a Shark like this pasta?
My Take on O A Foods and Palmini
For the past year or so, my diet leaned toward the paleo side. I try not to eat much gluten and carbs. While I'm not a monk about it, it has helped with my fitness and weight. I still eat “regular” pasta every once in a while, but I often substitute it with a gluten-free shirataki pasta that has almost no calories.
Heart of palm is the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees. I like heart of palm in a salad. I actually eat the stuff once a week at our favorite restaurant. It's low in calories and has high amounts of vitamins A and B9, fiber, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. It tastes good, too. I would definitely try Palmini if I saw it at Publix. At $4.50 a can, it's more expensive than regular pasta, but I'm worth it!
Will the Sharks Like Palmini?
If O A Foods wants Palmini to succeed, it has to taste good. I like quinoa – it has a nutty flavor and a good texture. If Palmini can replicate the texture and taste of “real” pasta, the Sharks will like it. If they don't like it, the pitch is dead in the water.
Assuming they like it, who's the best Shark? Rohan Oza would make a good partner, but he's not on the panel. Food products don't generally excite Mark, Robert or Daymond, but Lori has some foods companies in her Shark Tank portfolio. Bethany Frankel cut her teeth with booze and wine, but she could add some value to this business. I look for Lori or Bethany (or both) to bid on Palmini.