We spoke with Hailey Jefferies, co-founder and president of Prairie Fava. She and her husband Cale started this business to create and sell fava bean ingredients. We found out about entrepreneurship in Manitoba, how to run a business with your husband, and why favas are the future.
Prairie Fava is a food ingredient manufacturing company. What exactly does that mean?
It means that we process fava beans, more specifically mill the beans into flour and flakes that can be used as ingredients in new and current food products. Fava flour is naturally gluten free but can also be used in conventional food products to boost nutrition, specifically quality plant-based protein and fibre. For example pulse flours, like fava flour, can really compliment cereals due to the amazing amino acid profile making it a complete protein source. Some other products that our ingredients work well in and with are baked goods, snack foods, sauces, and meat.
We also sell our ingredients (specifically dehulled beans and flour) to companies who further process the ingredient and then sell to a food manufacturer. Overall, our end goal is to sell a great product that supports farmers, our planet, and everyone’s health!
Why fava beans?
When my husband Cale told me his family farm had this amazing bean to grow but that farmers couldn’t find a market to sell it too – for some reason it caught my attention. I started to learn more and more and couldn’t believe that fava beans could be so fascinating! But they really are – they are a sustainable food source, provide incredible nutrition, and are naturally light in flavor making them an easy ingredient to add to recipes without a “beany” taste. Fava ingredients can help provide people better nutrition in current and new food products which will equal to overall healthier people while being a healthy crop for our world. Healthy people + healthy planet = a win win!
What are your favourite ways to enjoy fava beans?
I love cooking with fava! My favorite fava recipe is swapping fava flour in a conventional cookie recipe – I love cookies!! But it has 50% fava flour and they are amazing! In a blind taste test I picked them over the originally recipe. And they happen to be more nutritious.
Why do you think fava beans don’t yet have the mainstream popularity of other pulses, like the chickpea or the lentil?
Overall the pulse market is small comparatively, so therefore, I think there just hasn’t been enough marketing to raise awareness and promote favas, yet. More and more research is being published about how beneficial legumes are for our world and our health. Fava beans definitely check all the boxes with food trends but I think as pulse-plant-based proteins continue to rise, all pulses will grow in popularity which I hope intern will help favas become more favorable.
Did you grow up on a farm in Manitoba?
I did not. I grew up in Brandon, Manitoba, a city of 50,000 – I am the black sheep of the family as most of my family are medical professionals. Cale grew up on his 5th generation family seed farm about 45 minutes south of Brandon. He has helped teach me all about agriculture. I have always wanted to make a positive difference in the world and now I feel like I have found something I care deeply to share with the world. It is amazing what you learn and can learn when you are motivated! Step by step I want help provide people with healthier foods while adding value to our Canadian crops that provide our world more sustainability.
Getting along with family isn’t always easy. What’s it like working with yours?
Well.. haha, working with my husband has been a lot of fun, really exciting, and great, but it can also be challenging. Like any other work place, there will be things you disagree on with a colleague. The difference is ours often gets discussed at the dinner table. The thing that we have had to recognize is we both have our own weaknesses and strengths, and luckily ours compliment each other. For the most part we have a blast together, and work trips are like holidays for us as we both love what we are doing and that we get to do it together. However, we have agreed that at trade shows we walk the floor separately, as we each have different selling styles and prefer to work a show solo.
As entrepreneurs, you need to perform many different roles and tasks. What do you enjoy most?
I enjoy the people. I love getting to know people and their businesses.
What do you find most challenging?
I find marketing the most challenging. I have all these ideas in my head but I find it hard to organize them to properly execute.
How much of your business is online vs offline?
A lot of my business is face to face networking – starting a business and wanting to compete globally, I have to travel and get to know industry trends, practices, competitors, and most importantly look for new opportunities. Some of these things are hard to find on google : )
I am eager to grow the fava bean market so I do everything, and meet everyone, I can to help better position not only my business as fava bean company but help position fava beans as the next best pulse ingredient as a whole.
However, that being said, online is still very important – it is my 24/hour marketing. It is something I am working on incorporating more in my business as it’s a valuable tool, resource and 24/hour sales page for my business.
Do you use social media to educate people about fava beans?
Even though we don’t sell direct to consumers yet, I like to use social media to raise awareness and educate people on why fava beans are an important, valuable ingredient to add in our diets.