Building Resilience In Our Food System - Unimaginable Foods

Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Carina Ayden, Founder of Unimaginable Foods, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Unimaginable Foods is on a mission to future-proof everyone’s favorite snacks and build resilience in our food system. We make traditional, staple snacks more sustainable and nutritious by replacing soil-degrading mono-crops with climate-resilient plants, like pulses. Our core customers are health enthusiasts.

Tell us about yourself

I discovered the link between a healthy gut and overall well-being when I was very young. I suffered an injury while ice skating at the age of 8. After that incident, I’ve had many surgical interventions that taught me so much about the direct link between nutrition and recovery. Specifically, probiotics and prebiotics played a key role in my post-op recovery. They boosted not only digestion but the immunity and helped fight inflammation.

In 2012, I was one of the first people in the U.S. to bring gut health to the forefront. It was before the global gut health trend I launched the first-ever snack Probiotic CareBar with a focus on gut health. At Unimaginable Foods, I continue to push the gut health paradigm to the forefront with the products like Unimaginable Granola Bites and Unimaginable Latte mixes.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I always focus on innovation and superior nutrition. The biggest accomplishment so far is that our nutrition is well-rounded: we make sure that besides the main health benefits, other components that make the product really good are not overlooked. For example, we minimize all the bad stuff like saturated fat, sodium, and sugar and boost the products with good things like superfoods, prebiotics, and botanicals. It sounds easy, but it’s not really. The formulation of truly healthy food products takes months.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

The hardest thing to this day is to work with an archaic food system. The distributors, the brokers, the retailers, and many other intermediaries who do not have ironed-out communication between themselves can cost a brand a lot of money. The system needs to become more intuitive and holistic in order for more companies to be incentivized to push health into their products.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. One of the most important things in the CPG industry is a reliable supply chain. It’s important to be ‘in the trenches’ with each of your suppliers and have at least two more, just in case.
  2. Have a reliable co-packer. When I was starting out, I used to be so grateful for every co-packer that wanted to work with me. I was always afraid that my orders were not large enough and that they would be disinterested in working with me. This was the wrong approach. Make sure they know your growth plan. You might be starting small now, but you will grow, and their prices per unit must be competitive! (Sign a contract and own your IP always!)
  3. Ask for help. I was brought up in an environment where I was told that asking for help or even advice is inappropriate. So for many years, I had a “do-it-all-yourself” mentality. Learning to delegate and ask for advice is important to help minimize the learning curve.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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