Some mates with … Agustin Mayorga
05 Aug 2021
We chat with the CEO of Mikuna, a company that produces the first organic cereal bar in Argentina.
How did Mikuna come about?
The company emerged as the crossroads of personal and professional interests together with my older brother, Ignacio, an Agricultural Engineer who lived in China for more than 10 years. There, he suffered first-hand the use and abuse of chemicals, pesticides and herbicides in food and water, which made him return to the country and generate interest in producing differently and thus turning to organic production as a professional .
For my part, I worked in a Buenos Aires company and suddenly I wanted to undertake something that would fill my soul more, beyond the economic. In this search I went to visit my brother Ignacio, who had settled in the province of Jujuy working as an agronomist on a farm dedicated to organic production. There I told him my wishes to change my life and immediately this complement came up at the end of 2014.
We both decided to go full time with Mikuna and partnered. Ignacio, as he already had in his head the idea of launching into an organic products company, had set up a small network of producers in the interior of the province of Jujuy where he advised them on organic production. For my part, I contribute my knowledge and experience in the business part.
In 2015 we launched and our first step was to sell boxes of organic products, so we started a small diet store in San Salvador de Jujuy, which had a great impact on the part of consumers. From there we seek to add value to the products and create a company with a triple positive impact.
What does the triple impact mean?
Mikuna is a company that generates positive environmental, social and economic impact.
Environmental because we promote the production of organic food, as well as regenerative, sustainable and ecological productive practices.
Social because we integrate small and medium primary producers and productive cooperatives into our value chain. In addition, we have a program for the nutritional improvement of the most needy children.
And finally, in positive economic terms, as a private company, we generate a positive impact on the development of the regional economy, local producers and labor integration in disadvantaged sectors.
What are your business units?
In 2016 we decided to start adding value to inputs and we differentiated two business units. A gastronomic one, since people asked us for foods that are not sold through dietetics (such as flours or oils) but they were directly interested in having the food ready. So we decided to open a bar in the center of San Salvador de Jujuy that is also called Mikuna. The concept is that everything is vegetables and everything that has to do with the garden goes towards the healthy bar. On the other hand, we have the industrial part where everything goes on a large scale (seeds, cereals and honey). We inaugurated the plant in 2018 and is located in Palpalá, Jujuy where we developed an unprecedented healthy food industrial plant. The objective is the production of healthy snacks with a high added value, and following the social and environmental principles of the organization.
Why did you decide to opt for organic production?
It was a great challenge to make the first organic cereal bar in Argentina. It is something that we had in mind and we saw that it was not done in the country that is why we decided to move forward with the OIA certification. The main challenge was the binder, since we did not want to use high fructose corn syrup (which is based on genetically modified corn) so to replace it, we partnered with different scientific associations such as CONICET, the National University of Jujuy, the National University of Salta, INTI and INTA, to advance with different studies to develop its own binder. We wanted to make a bar that is rich, durable, has a good texture, is approved by the general public, and above all that all the inputs to replace the binder in the bar are organic. It was a very long process, but we are very satisfied with the final result.
What is the organic bar made of?
The organic bar is based on seeds, honey, cocoa and chocolate, which we have recently launched on the market. This is our first business cycle and we are very pleased with the acceptance. It has sesame, honey, puffed rice, chocolate, and bitter cocoa.
How is the production process of the bar?
The process begins with the seeds that go into an oven process where they are raised to a certain temperature, so that they are clean. Then they go to a hopper and a mixing process with the honey that goes to a certain temperature, where it is mixed with the rest of the inputs. Then it goes through the production line which is a hopper, then it goes through a line that leaves it like nougat, it gives it its shape, we have fans that lower the temperature. Then we have the cutting, the spraying of the cocoa that covers it and finally, the product goes to the packaging line and making the boxes for the different clients and with the different forms of delivery.
How is the distribution of the final product?
We are launching the organic bar directly on the mass consumer market through a client, which is the Beepure brand. They are going to market the product to all retail consumption nationwide. What other products do you produce? We also have 3 other flavors of bars that are not organic because we do not get all the supplies.
What are the benefits of organic production?
Today organic production is chosen by consumers, since it does not use chemicals or genetically modified organisms, which is why it is very beneficial for the body.
What is the importance of certification?
The certification gives the consumer transparency and reliability that the product is genuinely organic, that it was made according to organic regulations. Certification validates us nationally and internationally, which means that the product has a greater demand both locally and internationally.
How can the consumer get more information?
We invite you to visit the web http://www.mikuna.com.ar/. You can also follow us on social networks, we are present on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mikunarednatural as well as we have a presence on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/mikuna.arg/
What next goals does the company have?
We are developing a series of bars with new flavors to launch at the end of the year, which will be organic. Also, we have the idea of exporting the production for which we aim to continue growing and consolidating ourselves in the national and international market.
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