Entrepreneur Ibraheem Basir has elevated the humble legume to build a burgeoning beans business. Basir is the CEO and founder of A Dozen Cousins, which offers slow-simmered beans influenced by black and Latino cuisines.
So, why would a food entrepreneur focus on beans? “We chose beans as our first product because it is the perfect intersection of taste, health and culture,” said Basir in a statement to Black Enterprise. “Beans are high in protein and fiber, they taste great when you cook them well, and they play a special role in a lot of black and Latino cooking.”
Inspired by the diverse Brooklyn neighborhood in which he grew up, Basir’s beans come in three different varieties: Cuban Black Beans, Mexican Cowboy Beans, and Trinidadian Chickpea Curry.
The protein-packed, ready-to-eat beans are made with all-natural ingredients including avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and spices.
The food industry is huge. In the U.S. the packaged food market size was estimated at $806.3 billion in 2016—and that’s not counting restaurants, produce, and other food categories.
There has also been a steadily increasing demand for healthier food options. For example, plant-based alternative Beyond Burger’s stock price surged more than 150% in June, just a month after going public. Competitor Impossible Foods, maker of the Impossible Burger, is closing in on Beyond Burger’s market share and has attracted deep-pocketed investors including Jay-Z, Serena Williams, and Bill Gates.
Beans fall into that plant-based food demand. According to Cision, “Beans held the largest share in the global market in 2017. The beans market was valued at USD 4.32 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach a market size of over USD 6.44 billion by 2025.”
Basir has certainly tapped into a lucrative market. He says despite how vast the market size when it comes to beans, “there is very limited innovation. Dry beans can take hours to cook from scratch, canned beans still require additional prep, and prepared beans have limited flavor options and some questionable ingredients. We solve all those problems with a fully cooked product that is made with great ingredients and unique flavor profiles.”
Basir says he is “excited” to work with Whole Foods. “Whole Foods is one of the largest and most innovative natural retailers in the country, so it means a lot that they believe in our brand and are bringing us into their stores,” he says.
Profit is not the only motivator for Basir. His plans include launching an initiative to help eliminate socio-economic health disparities by partnering with nonprofits and giving a portion of A Dozen Cousins’ proceeds to support their work.
As for the interesting company name, Basir says ‘A Dozen Cousins’ was inspired by his daughter and her 11 cousins.