I first discovered Happy Planet when I picked up a pouch of their Tuscan Tomato Soup, on a whim, at my local supermarket. A couple spoonfuls later, I was hooked! Made in Canada with all-natural ingredients, their products are not only delicious, but good for you. Born in British Columbia, Happy Planet was started by high school friends Randal Ius and Gregor Robertson. After narrowly losing in the doubles provincial tennis championships, the duo decided to forgo their professional tennis careers and start making carrot juice. Gregor's family farm was already producing organic carrot juice and a natural business plan was born . The original mission of Happy Planet was to connect "big city" people back to the land, to farmers who produce great produce which taste good and do good. Happy Planet has been growing ever since and can be found in numerous grocery stores across the country -- they make juices, smoothies and fresh soups. I caught up with founder Randal Ius to ask him a little bit more about his venture and how Happy Planet came to be. Jennifer Bartoli: Can you describe the process from coming up with the idea for Happy Planet to products first hitting the shelves? RI: When we started, we didn’t know anything about the manufacturing, sales, distribution and marketing aspects of a beverage company. But once we had set our plan in place to do our part in making the planet a bit healthier and folks happy with a fun new beverage experience – there was nothing stopping us. We spent over a year defining the vision and values of the company and the products we would make would stand for: to astonish your taste buds, nourish your body, unite you with the best sources of food and drink on this planet and help build and support our communities while growing a progressive business. JB: How do you select the produce that makes it into your products? RI: Canada is gifted with an abundance of delicious, rich produce. We’re passionate about supporting our Canadian farmers and producers so that means buying what we can from right here in Canada. Our locally-inspired line of fresh soups celebrates this and features produce and chicken from Canada’s best growing and farming regions; earthy and rich mushrooms from the Fraser Valley, BC; fresh and crisp broccoli from Chilliwack, BC; sweet and flavourful carrots from Chatham-Kent, ON and organic white chicken meat from Kawartha Lakes, ON. Our globally-inspired soups include ingredients and produce that you need to go beyond your own backyard (Canada) to find, but we aim to provide the very best, with only products we can trace and pronounce. JB: Giving back to the community is an important part of Happy Planet's mission. What kind of projects is the company involved with? RI: Yes, we’re passionate about giving back to our communities – it’s part of Happy Planet’s philosophy and DNA. Supporting organizations with both our donations as well as our active volunteer work helps connect us with both our communities and our consumers. We’ve been blessed as a business and we want to share that. In fact, what we’ve called ‘Grow for Good' is part of our core values and brand platform; it’s our aim to give back to our communities by encouraging people to think about the food they eat – what goes in it, where it comes from, and who grows it. We’ve not made all the planet happy yet, but it’s a good start. JB: Happy Planet is an all-Canadian company. What does that mean for you and for how your business? RI: We’re proud to be a Canadian company and truly appreciate how Canadians continue to be enthusiastic about our products. Being a Canadian company influences every aspect of our business; from the farmers and producers we work with to the products and flavours we develop and launch to the community organizations with whom we partner and support. Being a Canadian company it’s important for us to work together with our consumers to support our communities; for example “Help us Nourish the Hungry,” was a campaign we ran last winter and in to the spring to promote and support hunger prevention and awareness programs across Canada. Each purchase of Happy Planet’s delicious, all-natural fresh soups helped us donate $20,000 to national and local food banks, enabling Canadian consumers to make a positive impact in their communities. To find out more about Happy Planet, check our their website here. The Made in Canada series profiles entrepreneurs in the Canadian food industry who have successfully created a food-related product.