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EC20_AG_Terrafertil_David Bermeo

ECUADOR - Agriculture

David Bermeo

Co-founder & President, Terrafertil, Ecuador


Born and raised in Ecuador, David Bermeo pursued studies at the London School of Economics, Duke, and Harvard Business School, and became a global leader in the natural foods industry. In 2005 David cofounded Terrafertil, an integrated natural foods business that grew to be the largest of its kind in Latin America and was acquired by Nestle in 2018. Currently David continues to run Terrafertil in partnership with Nestle. Furthermore, he invests in and advises disruptive food, beverage, and technology companies. David holds several board positions with companies across industries, and is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs in improving society with market-based solutions.

"Golden Berries are an amazing fruit filled with health properties, and we process golden berries both in Ecuador and Colombia."

TBY talks to David Bermeo, Co-founder & President of Terrafertil, Ecuador, about running the country’s leading plant-based brand, working with local communities, and catering to a refined palate.

How would you describe the evolution of Nature’s Heart throughout the years?

Nature’s Heart is a leading plant-based brand in Latin America operating and selling in almost every country in the region, from Mexico to Central and South America. The business has evolved dramatically since its inception in Ecuador in 2005 and the launch of the brand in 2009 to its partnership with Nestlé in 2018. It has been an amazing journey, and we are extremely proud of our achievements in terms of our team and the brand’s promise. We work closely with growers to help them develop and have over 2,500 growers in Ecuador and Colombia that we train and buy products from. Our work in the agricultural sector is aligned with efforts to support the local community. Overall, it has been an amazing experience. We are the largest plant-based brand in Latin America and are proud to be part of Nestlé. Our focus on plant-based products aligns with the growing need for sustainability in the food industry, as we believe the world should move toward consuming more plant-based products. All our products are plant-based, which was a new concept for Nestlé. Regarding the future, we believe the plant-based industry will only continue to grow as consumers increasingly seek out healthier and environmentally sustainable alternatives. With every passing year and the strengthening of our partnership with Nestlé, we are optimistic about the future. We will continue to invest in both the brand and the growing side of our business. We have a unique regional platform, and there are no other brand such as ours in the region. While there are similar brands, they tend to be more local.

Can you expand on the Golden Berries Plan, and how the company works with the local community?

Golden Berries are an amazing fruit filled with health properties, and we process golden berries both in Ecuador and Colombia. In Ecuador, we focus on organic golden berries, while in Colombia, we process both organic and non-organic. We have been developing this product for the last 16 years, and as the largest golden berry processor in the world, we constantly strive to match demand and supply. Golden berries are not as plentiful as bananas, for example, and the growing process for golden berries is crucial. We work with thousands of growers in both Ecuador and Colombia to teach them about the best agricultural practices and pay them a fixed price throughout the year. Once we have created this amazing value chain, we employ the same infrastructure for aromatic herbs, honey, and grains as well. We have an amazing value chain for all these products with thousands of growers where both clients and growers have visibility of where the food goes and the prices being paid. The system has worked fantastically well for us.

How would you assess the particularities of the Ecuadorian market?

Ecuador is our home country, and we hold the highest leadership position in most of the categories where we operate. As our home country, Ecuador is especially important for the development of the company, with many of our shared services such as finance being handled here. Our CFO for the entire group is based in Ecuador. Additionally, Ecuador is an essential agricultural country and a significant supplier of many different products for us. It is a cornerstone of Nature’s Heart’s development. In terms of consumption, the country is an amazing market. We have successfully educated our consumers about healthier eating alternatives, which has led to growth of the company, our leadership position, and market share in most categories. Consumers appreciate what Nature’s Heart offers them. We believe the company has a positive dual impact, developing small growers on the production side and offering consumers healthier alternatives on the sales side. Entrepreneurship requires patience and tenacity, and it is about believing in your work and building the right foundations. With tenacity and patience, you can eventually get there. It is also crucial to identify where consumers are heading because being tenacious and patient will not reap results if you do not follow consumers’ needs. Fortunately, we were able to target a need of the population, which was healthier eating and bringing healthier plant-based options.

How does the company address the common concern among plant-based brands regarding the taste of the products?

The brand should appeal to someone like us. I am not a vegetarian or vegan, but I try to take care of myself. For flexitarians like me, taste is important. We put in great efforts to develop products that taste great and people will enjoy. Our main focus is plant-based beverages, essentially meal replacements. We are focusing heavily on this segment, as we see great potential for growth and many exciting developments to come in this area.



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