Treasure8 partners with Mariani for food dehydration innovation

Mariani Packing Co., a fourth-generation family-owned business producing dried fruits and vegetables, will be using the latest dehydration technology from San Francisco startup Treasure8 to invigorate and expand the category.

Treasure8, founded in 2012 with the purpose of capturing the nutrition in food and making it more accessible, licensed and perfected a drying technology first conceptualized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The company has an exclusive license to USDA’s Sauna dehydration technology, which takes out moisture and locks in nutrients. It has been using and improving the system to upcycle wasted food, lock in its nutrients and make it easier to transport, store and use.

Treasure8 Co-CEO Derk Hendriksen said that the partnership with Mariani will help the 115-year-old dried fruit company strengthen its innovation pipeline. It will also help Treasure8 better use its technology to improve and enhance the dehydrated food segment. 

“What was really exciting for us is bringing two platforms together that are almost completely complementary,” Hendriksen said. “So we are in innovation, in technology, in development, where Mariani is in sourcing, manufacturing and commercializing. So both parties have platforms that the other party doesn’t have.”

Timothy Childs, Treasure8’s founder and co-CEO, said they have been talking to many large companies about partnerships, and were in the process of negotiating with others when the opportunity to partner with Mariani came about. Treasure8 worked quickly with Mariani to make the collaboration happen because it presented a unique opportunity. 

Even though it’s been in the business for more than a century, Mariani has a reputation for being innovative and progressive, Childs said. And because Mariani has been in business for so long, it has deep relationships with distributors, retailers and other CPG companies around the globe. Mariani’s products are often used as ingredients in other products, giving Treasure8’s technology another entrance into its business, Childs said.

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Treasure8, which has been working to scale up its technology, will provide instant operational readiness, with its Sauna machines set to ramp up immediately. Childs and Hendriksen said Treasure8 is ready for such a large-scale partnership, and working with a large company like Mariani is the best way for the technology to start making a difference in producing good-tasting, low-cost, easily transportable, nutritious food.

Hendriksen couldn’t speak to specific products Treasure8 and Mariani would collaborate on together, but said there was plenty of runway.

“No pun intended, but there’s obviously some low-hanging-fruit opportunities that we have been working on already for months — or years, in some cases — that we’ll be bringing to market,” he said. “Then there’re other opportunities that are more of a mid- or a long-term kind of nature.”

The Mariani partnership also speaks to Treasure8’s corporate mission of providing the world with healthier food. Mariani is entering the wellness arena, launching probiotic dried fruit in 2017. The company also sells fruit products with no sugar added. It has no dehydrated vegetables in its current product lineup, but they have become more popular snacks in recent years and could be a future opportunity.

“With the 4th generation running our family business today and the health of future generations in mind, we’re excited to accelerate our innovation journey and embark on a new chapter with Treasure8 that will help extend our global platform into healthy living solutions for people worldwide,” Mariani Chairman Mark Mariani said in a written statement. 

While giving Mariani a tech and innovation boost, Treasure8 still has areas to work on as part of the partnership, Childs said.

“We are working together beyond the fruits and vegetables, but they also want us to work on cost savings,” he said. “We actually have increased food safety with our processes. Part of our arrangement is also work together to reduce overall costs and efficiencies as we’re driving this towards the triple bottom line.”

Hendriksen and Childs said this partnership is the first of many that may be coming in 2021 for Treasure8, though they could not talk about ongoing negotiations. The company is moving from its current headquarters in the Treasure Island neighborhood of San Francisco to suburban Vacaville, where Mariani’s corporate headquarters is located. Treasure8 is working on a third generation of its machines using Sauna technology. But It is likely to remain a B2B company, meaning it will partner with manufacturers, but will not make its own branded product.

“Our plan is not to sell equipment, but it is to work with our strategic partners,” Childs said.