Mama Chia profiled in the New York Times

Renewal Partners is proud to be an early investor in Mama Chia.  Read on for a recent article in the New York Times about the company's success.


30 Years After Chia Pets, Seeds Hit Food Aisles
NOVEMBER 23, 2012

First there were Chia Pets; now there are chia people.

Ubiquitous in television ads that began 30 years ago, Chia Pets were called “the pottery that grows.” Mixing chia seeds and water on the outside of an animal-shaped terra-cotta figurine produces a plant resembling green hair almost overnight.

Now, chia is having a second life as a nutritional “it” item. Whole and ground chia seeds are being added to fruit drinks, snack foods and cereals and sold on their own to be baked into cookies and sprinkled on yogurt. Grown primarily in Mexico and Bolivia, chia, like fish, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, though of a different sort. It also has antioxidants, protein and fiber. Recognition of its nutritional value can be traced as far back as the Aztecs.

Companies like Dole and Nature’s Path have introduced chia products, which have begun showing up on shelves in mainstream grocery stores like Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons. Mintel, a market research firm, counted 100 products containing chia in a presentation it did in March on the potential of increasing the use of the seeds in dairy products.

“About two years ago, our retailers came to us and said, ‘We need you to be in this business everyone is talking about, the business of chia seeds,’ ” said Michael P. Hirsch, vice president of Joseph Enterprises, which sells Chia Pets and other novelty products and has now added chia seeds and milled chia called — what else? — Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Omega.

Last spring, high demand collided with weather patterns that depressed production, raising prices and the awareness that chia had moved beyond the realm of health food stores into the broader market.

Janie Hoffman, founder of Mamma Chia fruit juices, was one of the first people to recognize chia’s potential as a food. She was complaining about flax seed — “I hate how you have to grind it and then it goes rancid” — to a friend, who asked why she wasn’t using chia instead. “She said it had no taste, it’s high in antioxidants, huge in omega-3, a far superior seed,” Ms. Hoffman said. “In short, she made me feel like an idiot — no one was using flax seed anymore.”

So she bought some chia seeds online and was quickly sold on their benefits. “I started incorporating it into everything I was eating,” she said. “Stir fries, yogurt, beverages — there really wasn’t anything in my kitchen that didn’t have chia in it.”  READ FULL ARTICLE>>



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