FoodGrads Podcast Ep 10: Pivoting into a career of dairy-free yogurts with Amelia Laplante, R&D Food Scientist at Yoso
On this week’s episode I interview Amelia Laplante a Research and Development Scientist at Yoso. A family run business creating dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan yogurts and spreads in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. They are also the creators of Canada’s first oat yogurt- which is a pretty exciting!
On this episode Amelia tells me about how fun her role is an R&D scientist at plant-based company and the sustainability benefits which come from consuming these products. A lot of this episode is focused on talking about Amelia’s strategic career pivots and how through her positive attitude to networking both in school and even with her own co-workers she was able create new opportunities. Not only does it help you build connections but in the food industry it can give you a better picture of the whole food supply chain.
Amelia is a remarkable person who believes that it is important to have goals but also to stay flexible with them because you never know what is waiting around the corner. Don’t be afraid to shoot someone a message- you never know where it will take you.
Now onto the show!
Can you tell me more about yourself and what your role is at Yoso?
- Amelia works at Yoso a company that produces plant-based products. As an R&D Food Scientist she works at creating new product formulations, work on existing formulas. She also makes new videos from their test kitchen
What is Yoso?
- A family business by two brothers from Hong Kong who have have experience working with with plant based products like soy, almond, cashew and cashew. Now they have started doing oat products
How has it been working at Yoso? Is it fun?
- Yes it is fun! There is always something new everyday. It is a great creative space to work in
How has it been working in a family based business as opposed to one that is more formal?
- Everyone is really close because the business is under 50 peoples. The owners are passionate about the business.
What are some of the benefits of dairy-free products?
- Lower sugar content and a cleaner ingredient deck
- Sustainability, plant based yogurts product less green house gases
What excites you about your job right now?
- Researching new food trends especially through COVID
- Health foods with functional ingredients are starting to rise
- Researching the diversity of food
How have you been getting your information lately about food now that trade shows aren’t happening?
- Signing up for newsletters, email
- Food Business News
- Plant Based News
- Food in Canada
- Instagram- vibrant colours like blue is starting to become more popular like this butterfly pea plant can make this beautiful blue
How did come to be that you went to George Brown College for Supply Chain Management?
- Amelia believes it is more important to set yourself apart. Supply Chain Management is really the heartbeat of the plant. Learning about this helped her to learn about different roles of manufacturing.
What are some of the courses you took?
- Supply Chain Strategy, Lean Manufacturing, Globalization
Why did you decide to go into Culinary Management at Niagara College?
- Originally, I went in thinking that I was going to open a cupcake store. In this program I thought I would learn how to do other things other then just baking. However, I became more interested in the business side so I pivoted to the Food Science program. So I pivoted my goals to creating a new goal of creating my own product and seeing it on the grocery store shelf
Can you tell me more about your role as service and support at Dare Foods? How was that experience?
- Was apart of the new team at a cookie plant. As part of this team I got to help set up the receiving procedures, inventory. I was involved with the direct operation
Could you tell me more about about what it was like working in receiving? As well for those who might not know what happens during receiving?
- Receiving is so important because it is the first line of defense . I would email different suppliers to set up the right delivery time. Then when the delivery comes in I would check the receiving to make sure it has all the right documentation. Then you would inspect the truck for the proper controls like no pests. Then you would label everything to make sure everything is properly put in the plant.
How was the transition between college and full time career? Did you have any difficulties getting a new job?
- When I wanted to start a career. I made hit up everyone I knew. As a student I made sure to keep in contact with all of my professors. I volunteered and went to every event that I could.
- I always made a point to talk to people about their jobs in different departments.
- I must have applied for countless jobs. It is important to keep going and stay positive. You kind of have to grind
- Right after I graduated, I did an internship at Disney for a year. If I had gotten a job right after graduation I would have never been able to do that.
- Amelia and I talk about journaling and how it is beneficial
Do you have any recommendations for food books, podcasts or people for students?
- On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee
- LinkedIn Learning
- Jeff Dyre LinkedIn course on Innovation
- I love to connect with people with other small businesses
- Brené Brown
- Sara Treleaven Blakely– Founder of Spanx
Why do you think the food industry is a great place to work?
- The people are excited and passionate about what they do.
- There is a great energy and food is so sentimental. It is nice to bring people together
What advice would give to someone who wants to pursue a career similar to yours?
- Volunteer in lots of events
- Go out and meet people. This might include doing contests.
- More you can
- Share your goals. If it is important to you then get it out there because people want to help you.
- Continue your professional development. Read, do a course or try a new skill
- If there is a person that you want to know more about than reach out and ask them. You never know who knows who