Jasmine Byrne: Creating significant change towards Animal Welfare, Climate Change, and Food Inequalities.

20 under 40

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Jasmine Byrne’s mother, Kimberly Chamberland, was a food and business enthusiast who owned restaurants before moving into food manufacturing. Having been brought up in an entrepreneurial family, Jasmine developed an early interest in entrepreneurship and business in general. She graduated with a Bachelor of Entrepreneurship and a Minor in Human Resources and from there joined the family business to scale operations to be a dedicated common allergen-free brand. The business, Big Mountain Foods, was established in 1987 and being the President of the company, she had a profound impact on the company’s success trajectory. Seven years since her joining, under her supervision the company has won many awards including a Nexty Award, Emerging Exporter, 40 under 40, and Product of the Year. “We are committed to responsible growth and innovation so we can continue to provide healthy, nutritious, and wholesome food for our customers, and strengthen our communities for generations to come,” says Jasmine.  

With the rise of conscious eating and leading healthier lifestyles, there has never been a higher demand for food products that cater to the different tastes and dietary preferences of people. This has led to the establishment of several exciting and innovative plant-based/vegan food companies that are bringing fresh perspectives and new flavors to the market; whilst Big Mountain stands atop. Its offering highlights creating vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and common allergen-free food products. “We are Not positioned as meat alternatives, but as real, nutritious, and delicious food that you can serve at your own dinner table that complements a well-rounded diet,” says Jasmine. 

She continues, “Although Big Mountain is a plant-based brand, we are stepping back from launching products that are similar to what other plant-based producers are doing like nuggets, patties, and crumbles.” To stay ahead of the curve, Jasmine and her colleagues strive to be different by focusing on developing new products through innovation.

Kimberly Chamberland & Jasmine Byrne

“We have a responsibility to care Partnering with responsible suppliers, reducing the impact of our operations, taking care of our employees, and contributing to the communities where we live and work, has enabled us to grow and foster improved sustainability practices for over three decades”

Real Food that Tastes Good

By quoting, “decades later, our mission remains steadfast – to make food that we would proudly serve our own family,” she emphasizes over the company’s commitment to developing real food that also tastes good. “Food with no additives, no substitutes, and no names that you can’t pronounce,” adds Jasmine. As a plant-based food manufacturer, its mission is grounded in developing healthy plant-based food for the sake of environmental sustainability, as well ethical reasons out of concern for the wellbeing of livestock, which remains a cornerstone value for the company.  

We are always fresh, made in Canada, and aim to use premium local ingredients to produce good food that is simply good for you. Our products do not contain animal products or by-products,” adds Jasmine. She proudly highlights that the company is vegan, cruelty-free, and free of common allergens and that its products are made with vegetables without the taste of meat. With the majority of its premium ingredients, Big Mountain strives to stay true to its goal of providing naturally vegan products. “In a world where opinions on what’s healthy are always changing, we stick to what we know: that real food is always the best. Our family heritage comes with a responsibility: to stay true to our principles of sourcing local, cruelty-free and sustainable, plant-based ingredients,” asserts Jasmine.

Customers, employees, and partners-centric organization

Being a women-owned family-operated manufacturing business, Big Mountain cares about its production and peers in the manufacturing unit. Jasmine believes that ‘business is about more than making a profit’. The company feels obligated to care for its customers, business partners, and employees, as well as to protect the resources on which it operates and the earth’s resources as a whole. “We have a responsibility to care Partnering with responsible suppliers, reducing the impact of our operations, taking care of our employees, and contributing to the communities where we live and work, has enabled us to grow and foster improved sustainability practices for over three decades,” says Jasmine. She truly believes in supporting the community as her efforts are just restricted to commercial transactions. “Caring for people and contributing to communities is integral to who we are,” she continues. They partner with local farmers as a step towards contributing to the community. This partnership with local growers adds direct fuel to the local economy since these growers buy supplies and pay bills locally, thus supporting the community with the growth of local jobs, stronger communities, and ultimately keeps people and the economy working. 

Jasmine’s gesture of compassion doesn’t end here, as millions of families across North America struggle with food insecurity. Each year Big Mountain contributes thousands of pounds of product to help local food banks and meal prep companies that feed those in need. Its approach to community investment is guided by the company’s values and commitment to eradicating hunger and supporting animals. In 2021, it partnered with Kindred Farms, an organization that brings people, animals, and nature together to improve the emotional well-being of the community. “Using animal-assisted intervention, horticultural therapeutic activities and nature-assisted activities they are able to affect change in the hearts and lives of the people and animals who need it most – healing hearts – one person, one animal at a time,” she asserts.

Driven by Innovation 

Covid-19, like most businesses, had a significant impact on Big Mountain. To survive as a business, Jasmine and her team had to adapt and implement new practices and strategies, including its marketing strategy. They migrated towards a digital approach by projecting digital sampling, running online advertising campaigns, and working with influencers. Moreover, they began investing more in stringent sanitation and hygiene practices and intend to continue doing so even as the Covid-19 crisis is starting to subside. “We have also been recently HACCP certified, which is a testament to our continuous commitment to make our facility and workspace as safe as possible for us, our employees, and our business partners,” she adds.  

Moreover, the company has always strived for continuous innovation which led to many iterations, reformulations, and overall improvements to all its products. This has cumulatively resulted in its portfolio of products to expand from the Veggie Patty in 1987 to the 9 products, it currently manufactures. “With 3 more products (the Mushroom Crumble, The Original Chickpea Tofu, and Smoked Chickpea Tofu) to be launched in the next coming months,” Jasmine announces. “We’re most excited for the launch of the Original Chickpea Tofu, which is made 100% with Chickpeas. This was so innovative that our very own soy-free tofu won a NEXTY Award – the most prestigious award in Natural Foods. It’s so good, we even had to make the Smoked Chickpea Tofu – which has all the same benefits, only with a delicious and savory smoky taste profile.” This product innovation has allowed the company to create value added products by upcycling the tofu byproduct. “We will be able to recover 100% of the waste that would traditionally go to factory farms and make products like vegan gravies, gluten free flour blends for baking etc. We are very proud to be involved in the upcycling movement to create more sustainable practices for the future,” she adds.

As a leader in plant-based food innovation, Big Mountain is working on mushroom innovations including the use of Lion’s Mane mushroom—a previously overlooked mushroom that is known to be a healthy powerhouse and a plant-based protein that is so sustainable it can help save the planet. Jasmine believes that the constant innovation to bring new ready-to-cook wholesome and savory food products to the market with astonishing ingredients has led the company to its current stature. Through her endeavors, Jasmine desires to continue to build a brand that is creating significant change towards animal welfare, climate change, and food inequalities. She will also be focusing on fostering young women leaders, telling them that if they manifest and work hard, they can achieve their career goals.

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Aspioneer Magazine, 20 under 40 issue