- Acclaimed Food Scientist, Cesar Rodriguez, graduate of Texas A&M, was visiting Central
America where he encountered a child suffering from acute malnutrition.
- This encounter deeply affected Cesar. From that year on, Cesar continued visiting
countries like Guatemala and other areas that dealt with severe cases of malnutrition.
Well-traveled, due to the nature of his business, he visited rural areas observing varying
degrees of malnutrition.
- Possessing little knowledge of the facts and basis of malnutrition, it was evident the
problem was worse than he first thought. While touring rural areas, his exposure to
people suffering from malnutrition was more profound. What a paradox: those who fed
the world by cropping suffered from lack of nutrients and food supply.
- It might have been so that it was always there, but Cesar was immune to it as we are with
many situations close to us - but not for lack of interest - we just underestimate its
- Cesar started searching for information on how malnutrition was being addressed by local
authorities and he found out that very little was being done.
- He noticed there was a large awareness of hunger, but there was a large ignorance of
- With Cesar being in Agri-Business (fertilizer), he appreciated how important and beneficial
micronutrients were for plant growth and yields.
- Early in the year, Cesar started exploring the possibility of developing a product to
address the problem of malnutrition.
- Living in Venezuela made this difficult to comprehend since there was no lab or
manufacturing capabilities to achieve this objective. Nevertheless, the idea remained on
his mind until he decided to eventually move to the United States.
- In November, Cesar moved from Venezuela to the United States.
- While searching for the ideal place to raise his family, explore business opportunities and
develop a dream product to address malnutrition, Cesar chose Dallas, TX, based on its
people, traditions and industrial park environment.
- Settling into Prosper, Texas (a suburb of Dallas), Cesar met Punk Carter, a true "Texan",
who introduced him to countless people interested in the same philanthropic callings he
had. Punk was selling a BBQ sauce called "The Cut Above" which he was having
manufactured by a third party source. This process of outsourcing captured Cesar's
- Manufacturing a product by outsourcing appealed to Cesar. He spoke with the owner of
the factory, Family Heritage, who explained the whole concept, from product
development to manufacturing and marketing.
- The notion of developing a product line from start to finish fascinated Cesar and truly
opened his eyes. In his native land of Venezuela, companies and business owners did
not develop their own business models.
- Cesar began sharing his dreams and ideas of developing a product that addressed
malnutrition on a global scale, with Punk Carter.
- The search for a developer and a manufacturer began; three labs were identified and
after 3 months, they chose NSL.
- Allan Jones, President of NSL, as well as his team, loved the idea and committed to
developing a product that would meet the prescribed guidelines given by Cesar:
- Micronutrient concentration based on WHO/FAO guidelines
- Great taste
- Highly concentrated (small dose)
- Long shelf life
- Temperature stable
- Containing Protein
- In the early stages of product development, the process was very slow; once perfected,
this liquid formulation would be revolutionary.
- The key to this product was making it taste just right, which took many months. The
flavors targeted first were: strawberry, lemon, orange and berry.
- Protein was a challenge from the beginning due to its aftertaste, acidity and tartness.
Even though NSL was not able to mask the protein at first, they did succeed at achieving
the high nutrient concentration.
- Each round of tasting progress was made until the first half of 2010 when NSL had finally
managed to complete the formula of taste and ingredients.
- At this point, David Henzler from NSL proposed to add a new ingredient, Omega 3.
- In addition, a new delivery system was discussed and agreed to be developed - a gel,
which by accident was formed during the development of the liquid product when trying
to concentrate more protein into a smaller dose (2 oz.).
- Gel formation, contrary to being a problem, became the real solution and the product
Cesar was looking for! It was ideal for children under five as well as the elderly.
- With a lot of time spent researching and studying between Cesar and NSL, they gained a
better understanding of the global issues of malnutrition. This discovery generated a
different momentum for the development of the product and the commitment from
everybody was more than evident.
- During this time, Punk introduced many significant people to Cesar: Randy White,
Hershel Walker, John McKentire, and Burl Outlaw.
- Herschel was very intrigued from the very beginning, constantly offering his support by
saying "once you are ready, I will show you how far I can take this product." Since then
he followed and monitored part of the development, participating in different tasting
- Burl introduced Cesar to Greg Deman for the first time. The partnership beginning to
form would end up establishing the company now known as VMP Nutrition, LLC.
- In the first quarter of 2011, the 2 oz. liquid was complete and the gel concept was fully
developed: new flavors were created and tasted for the elderly and children under the
age of five.
- Handmade samples were constructed from the lab, which were given to relatives and
friends to get their feedback. The feedback was beyond positive.
- Mid-2011, both products were completed, which created new challenges for Cesar:
"How do I begin to put together a team of people who will commit, share the same
vision and passion that I have, and will also take my ideas and transform them into
- By the Fall of 2011, a team of 12 people was formed to "wage a crusade against
malnutrition": Punk Carter, Greg Deman, Keith Fair, Burl Outlaw, Terry Clas, Jay Mehta,
Renee Thibodeaux, Cleveland Ray, Herschel Walker, John McKentire, Catie Deman and
- And now, in the early tides of 2012, Cesar's vision, passion and ideas are beginning to
- VMP Nutrition, together with local organizations, is launching a summer program focused
on nourishing children in the Detroit metropolitan area. Over 150,000 children will be
nourished during the summertime period.
- VMP Nutrition Foundation is working with government agencies, non-government
agencies and private donors within multiple countries to address malnutrition in the most
Herschel Walker - "We have become a society of 'getting it done right away', and that usually
means eating on the run. Families are not receiving their daily-required
fruits, vegetables and general nutrition. I grew up eating all the right things,
but I see that is not the case with most of today's youth. When I learned of
Cesar's product, I believed in it immediately, but I said it needed to taste
good. And now, it's ready and can make a real difference."