On a fall hike, have you ever noticed a birch tree with a black growth? To some, that’s just a mushroom. But for Matt Dean Pettit, he sees natural medicine. With a culinary background and parents he defines as “two old hippies” who embraced naturopathy, Pettit had the inspiration for an idea that would grow into a business. “You have to know what the next trend is,” said Pettit, talking about awareness as a chef. “And I found Chaga, for example . . . one of the best immune boosters that you can have. Chaga is like your total body defense.” Chaga is just one of the superfoods that spurred Pettit to learn more about the natural healing properties of functional mushrooms, eventually leading him to partner with two childhood friends and create PowerPlant Superfoods.
Pettit noticed that in early 2020, mushrooms were trending. During the pandemic, he had time to research and educate himself about how fungi can boost immune systems naturally. This is where his culinary background sparked an idea, and he devised a way to use a well-known and well-loved medium to deliver a shot of modern health. Pettit remembers thinking, “People are looking for additional and other ways to sort of give themselves health and wellness.” The thought continued, “Three out of four Canadians consume more coffee than they do water in a day.” Coffee was a way to introduce functional mushrooms to consumers that felt familiar and accessible. The vehicle he chose didn’t require a change in routine, but merely a change in product.
"Here in Canada and North America, our Indigenous communities have been using it [Chaga mushrooms] for hundreds of years."- Matt Dean Pettit
Pettit looked to superfood groundbreakers for inspiration and direction, which mostly meant looking south to the US. He was researching and learning how to take functional mushrooms and put them into everyday products. Once he felt more confident in his knowledge and had solidified some ideas, Pettit launched PowerPlant Superfoods in April 2021 with a little help from his friends.
“I’m from Midland, Ontario,” said Pettit. “My two business partners are, as well . . . We’ve known each other for about 30 years.” The trio grew up together and their skill sets represented the perfect blend of experience and knowledge to bring the first PowerPlant Superfoods product to fruition. They created organic mushroom-infused coffee that’s designed to provide an immune boost while negating any jitters or post-coffee crashes. Plus, the friends worked to make sure the taste was on point! Eventually, they teamed up with distributors in Quebec and Ontario to grow the business.
Pettit has learned a lot about running a small business in the last year and a half, especially given the issues with supply chain and distribution. He recalled: “Starting a business in the pandemic when you have one price one day and then the next it literally shoots up 50% or 100% in some cases.” Pettit has even dealt with a global shortage of the cans he uses for seltzer products. He believes having multiple suppliers is important to keep things moving and to avoid putting the business in jeopardy.
One consistent factor that has helped PowerPlant Superfoods stay on track is a relationship with GS1 Canada. Petitt’s previous experience with the organization gave him a leg up when his business started interacting with larger retailers. “I was previously a GS1 subscriber,” said Pettit. With another business venture, he had learned about the association and was familiar with the tools and services. “Life is hard enough as an entrepreneur,” he said, “so we need companies like GS1 to make our life easy.” Pettit said he’s appreciated the responsive customer service he’s received from GS1 Canada team members and acknowledges that he wouldn’t be able to do business with retailers such as Metro without being a subscriber. He said, “ . . . the rule of thumb should be make it easy . . . if you're tied up doing paperwork all day, there's nobody really driving the business.”
Pettit and his partners believe that physical health comes from nutrition and activity. By incorporating functional mushrooms such as Chaga, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps and Reishi into everyday foods, their goal is to bolster physical health through delicious products. The result is a modern version of superfoods that have been used for hundreds of years, and a shining example of how a good idea can be realized through good process.
PowerPlant Superfoods infuse everyday food and drink with the power of functional mushrooms. Benefits can include a boost in gut health, immune function and cognitive focus for enhanced health and wellness.
To shop products and learn more, visit PowerPlant Superfoods.