Here are two truisms of business in 2015: "Conscious consumerism" is a powerful force in practically every product category, and you can't succeed without engaging with your brand's core fans.

Hampton Creek founder Josh Tetrick thumbs his nose at both pieces of conventional wisdom.

At the Collision Conference Tuesday, Tetrick said his startup, which makes popular foods using substitute ingredients derived from plants rather than animals, goes out of its way not to be seen as a company that's trying to improve the health of the planet or its residents. 

"We're not tapping into conscious consumerism," Tetrick said. "In fact, we think the way a good thing wins is by ignoring the conscious consumer and making a cookie so much better that people choose it."

"Alternative" brands may have a ready-made market in vegans and environmentalists, Tetrick said, but they're limiting their potential by pigeonholing themselves, he said. Food makers that don't compete head-on with bad-for-the-planet products will never force them to change. "What we're trying to do is create a system where the food is so obnoxiously better that, even if you don't care, you choose it," he said. 

To that end, Tetrick said he's prouder of getting Hampton Creek's products into Dollar Tree stores and corporate cafeterias than he is of selling it at Whole Foods. 

"We're about to have 9 billion people on the planet," he said. "It can't just be Hampton Creek making better food." 

Published on: May 5, 2015