What do vegetarianism, triathlon, Australia, finance and sustainability have in common? They all have a link with the creation of Séva Nature, an SME specializing in plant-based soft ice cream mixes. A small revolution in its field, the company won the Desjardins Innovative Business Award in 2022. Discussion with its founder, Maude St-Pierre.

In 2006, I participated in the Triathlon World Championship in Spain. This experience changed my life. I developed rigor, perseverance and, above all, I adopted a life routine and my vision of food changed. I turned to a vegetarian diet. After my studies in finance, I knew that I wanted to become an entrepreneur, but I needed to find myself. I went to Australia for a year and it was there that I discovered a panoply of products made from plants. When I returned to Quebec, I decided to develop a new vegan alternative for consumers inspired by Oceania, but everything had to be done with a vision of sustainable development.

There are plenty of plant-based protein drinks out there, but there’s almost nothing in the realm of vegan, allergen-free frozen desserts. However, I am not a specialist in food or research and development. I had to seek expertise in Europe, the United States and at home. Eventually, I hired an expert consultant on the subject. We opted for oats because it is a durable, non-allergenic grain that gives the products an ultra-smooth texture. However, we had to make more than a hundred prototypes before arriving at a final product that met our standards in terms of quality. This is not to mention all the oat supply problems that had to be faced. In all, it took nearly two years of development.

We have a sustainability plan. My goal is not to use the ecological argument in a misleading way to improve our image, but it is still part of the DNA of the company. For example, we produce only according to demand and, therefore, in addition to reducing our losses, we avoid food waste.

Our customers are restaurants and master ice cream parlors. Last year was officially our first year of sales, but the world of distribution is far from simple. There were several barriers to entry. Luckily, we managed to prove ourselves. Today, we are present in more than 500 points of sale, including Chocolats Favoris. Our turnover increased by 500% just last year and we want to double it in the next two or three years.

My goal is to take the business elsewhere. Yes, it is an emerging market, but there is room for innovation. Right now we have Vanilla and Mango flavors. In September, we are going to make a shift and we plan to offer other product lines with which we are targeting grocery stores. To go further, I can count on a passionate and committed team, including my research and development director, Marc-Antoine Vézina. We have prepared for growth, we are ready and we have the capacity to get there.