Caroline Cotto is the Founder and COO of Renewal Mill, a sustainable brand dedicated to both providing healthy foods and combating climate change, all in the same bite. Renewal Mill carries a range of products, including chocolate chip cookies, gluten-free flours, and dessert mixes.
- What about your brand inspires you most?
“Food waste is one of the largest drivers of climate change, and I’m inspired by Renewal Mill because we’re working everyday to help fight climate change by reducing global food loss. Through upcycling, we take the byproducts of food manufacturing and turn them into premium ingredients and delicious plant-based products.”
- Share with us your favorite recipe to make using a Renewal Mill flour!
“My favorite Renewal Mill recipe was developed by our product developer, Alice Medrich, who is a 5-time James Beard Award winning cookbook author. It’s a vegan, gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe made with okara flour, as well as almond butter and delicious chocolate chips!”
- You grew up in the food business. How has your passion and tenure affected your management at Renewal Mill?
“I grew up in the food industry because my parents owned an ice-cream store named after me. What I learned through that experience is that food really brings people together and is a source of joy. When we were thinking about product development at Renewal Mill, we’re trying to create products that will bring people together in the kitchen while also educating them about sustainability and the importance of their everyday choices.”
- What is the most rewarding part of running a small business?
“There’s a lot of rewarding parts about running a small business, but my favorite part is being able to interact directly with customers and see the direct impact of my work. It’s a great day here when we get an email from a customer telling us how much they enjoyed the product or how they used their products and what it meant to them. I really cherish those little moments.”
- What advice do you have for anyone who wants to start a business in CPG? Or challenges nobody talks about?
“Train your resiliency muscle. There is a lot of hard work that goes into building these businesses. You get a lot of “no’s,” but at the end of the day, when you see someone enjoying your product, it is totally worth it!”
- How has your passion for health and nutrition shaped your business?
“One of the biggest myths in the food industry is that Americans need more protein in their diet, when in fact what Americans really need is more fiber in their diet. We process fiber out of most of our packaged foods here in the US. What Renewal Mill is doing is capturing that fiber and returning it to people’s plates through high fiber, upcycled ingredients. From a nutritionist’s perspective, I get really excited when we sell into different categories in the grocery store and are able to add that nutrition back into products.”
- What are the biggest challenges you faced during COVID?
“Before COVID, we used to sell our chocolate chip cookie product mostly to offices as snacks for their employees. Obviously with COVID and the closure of offices, we lost that entire sales channel. We’ve had to pivot to direct-to-consumer and retail grocery sales, which has been challenging to do during this time because people are not able to try your product in the store and it makes product discovery a lot harder. That’s why we’re super grateful to have partners like Tastermonial who are helping us get our product into the hands of new consumers!”
- What is your vision for Renewal Mill in the future?
“Our vision for Renewal Mill is to be the food industry’s go-to supplier for upcycled ingredients. We want the sustainable choice to be the easy choice. Whether you’re a product developer for a large company or just a dedicated home cook, you can reach for upcycled ingredients and create truly sustainable products that nourish the next generation.”
Want to hear more from Caroline? Find her at renewalmill.com or on Instagram @renewalmill.