Yumi Yumi: Healthy Snacks
Generally, when we think of countries suffering from obesity, we think of places like the United States where the industrialization of food systems occurred half a century ago. In the U.S., entire generations have grown up with highly processed food as the “nutritional” basis of their daily diet. Today, however, the country suffering from the worst levels of obesity is not the United States, but Nauru, a small island in the Pacific Ocean. In fact, the ten countries with the highest levels of chronic obesity are Pacific Island Nations.
According to a publication by the World Health Organization, the process of replacing traditional foods with imported and processed foods has contributed significantly to the high prevalence of obesity and related health problems in this region of the world. The extremely healthy traditional diet of these islands was based on fish and other seafood, tubers such as taro root and cassava, and coconut milk and oil. Today, this diet has been displaced by processed food and cheap cuts of imported meat.
A fundamental element of globalization has been the homogenization of the food that reaches our dinner tables. Around the world, traditional diets have gradually been replaced by the industrialization of food systems. In the South American country of Chile, this process of the loss of autonomous and healthier diets is seen in the increasing levels of obesity. Yumi Yumi, a Chilean health food brand that produces nutritious, Keto Certified beef snacks, has responded to the growing food crisis that is affecting millions of Chilean families by providing a healthy and nutritional snack alternative.
Nutrition in Chile
The 2016-2017 National Health Survey (ENS) found that 74.2 percent of the Chilean population is obese or overweight. According to a study by the Public Nutrition Unit, INTA, of the University of Chile, “nutrient-deficient soft drinks and low-priced industrialized foods are now ubiquitous in the food environment and are part of the popular daily diet where they have replaced the traditional diet of the past. However, it is a nutrition transition that can still be reversed.”
The study goes on to say that traditional food culture offers an opportunity to combat the obesity epidemic affecting the country. In addition to the traditionally high consumption of fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and legumes, grass-fed beef has for many years been an important part of the Chilean diet as well. Going back to these fundamental elements of popular nutrition is the best way to contribute to better public health.
Who is Yumi Yumi?
Founded in 2017, Yumi Yumi is a health food brand offering beef snacks that are completely grass-fed and free of nitrates, nitrites, and MSG. Specifically, Yumi Yumi employs a South African technique known as “biltong” to provide cured meat snacks. The biltong technique air-dries beef and incorporates a variety of spices, vinegars, and other healthy ingredients.
Currently, Yumi Yumi offers a variety of flavors, including balsamic, pica lemon, merkén (a mixture of the country’s own hot chili peppers), Thai, and garlic ginger. The brand recently launched a new flavor of Keto Cinnamon that is made entirely without sugar and contains zero carbohydrates.
The founders of the brand consider that “we have increasingly chaotic lives. Lack of time. Anxiety. Stress. Disappointment. To remedy this, the food industry brings us products that uncover our happiness and we fall down the slide of addiction to these foods. We are surrounded by avalanches of products high in carbohydrates and sugars. Articles (paid for by mega-corporations) and advertisements have convinced us that a diet based on this is “healthy” and a necessary part of a balanced diet.”
Seeing that there are very few healthy snack alternatives for the Chilean people, Yumi Yumi sought to be one of the first brands to provide the market with a healthy food option for people with little time to devote to cooking. Rather than simply producing a beef jerky product packed with sugar, MSG, and other chemical additives, the company committed to producing a meat snack made by a slow-maturing, artisanal process. This process allows the elaboration of a healthy, full-protein, an end product that is compatible with the Keto diet and other diets that limit carbohydrate consumption. All of Yumi Yumi’s snacks are first dipped in a mixture of apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and an infusion of flavors, spices, and herbs.
Keys to their success
The Yumi Yumi brand is consolidating its place and legacy within the growing health food market in Chile. Despite high levels of obesity, the relative strength and stability of the Chilean economy has meant that many individuals and families are willing and able to spend more money on healthier food options. According to a recent study entitled “Opportunities and Innovation Challenges for Healthy and Natural Eating,” more than 53 percent of the Chilean people prefer natural foods, free of sugar and dyes. The study also found that nine out of ten Chileans who participated in the survey follow a diet with some dietary restrictions, with particular emphasis on restricting sugar inputs.
Despite this national interest in a healthier diet, there are very few healthy and nutritious snack choices. Yumi Yumi is taking advantage of this gap in the market to build a stronger and more loyal customer base. The average consumer in Chile not only values more nutritious food options, but also demands food products that are friendly to the environment. According to the aforementioned study, more than half of those surveyed say they prioritize products that are produced by ingredients that do not harm nature. By sourcing the beef used in their Biltong product that is 100 percent grass-fed, the brand can legitimately respond to growing customer demand for healthier, greener food products.