If you’ve ever tried your hand at home juicing — or watched a local spot make you juice to order — you probably noticed that a lot of pulp gets left behind. Some larger juiceries have partners that can take the pulp to use for animal feed or compost, but many smaller juiceries end up just throwing it away since they don’t have the resources to get it to farmers.
One company is trying to give juicing “waste” a second life. Founded in 2015, Pulp Pantry turns fiber-rich pulp into grain-free granola bites in flavors like Cinnamon Toast and Cacao Crunch. Each bag is 50% juicing pulp, which the company dries and grinds to a powder before making it into their snacks. A 5-ounce bag retails for $8.99 and is available on their website and Amazon, as well as in 40 brick-and-mortar retailers.
Based in L.A., Pulp Pantry launched their granola bites in May of this year as a sort of an entry point into the upcycled snack market. Their next product, however, is the one they’re most excited about: a savory chip-like product made of vegetable pulp from celery and greens, set to launch in January of 2019.
According to Pulp Pantry founder Kaitlin Mogentale, they’re hoping the so-called Veggie Thins will actually have a higher reach than the granola. “Savory products are more of a mainstream play for us,” she explained. “Eating vegetables in granola is harder to wrap your head around than eating them in chips, which consumers are familiar with.” Think: the bags of beet, sweet potato, and kale chips you’ve probably seen in the snack aisle.
While their granola bites focused on online sales channels, Mogentale said they’re planning to launch the chips with a designated retail partner. This makes sense, given that spur-of-the-moment snacking decisions happen in the grocery aisle. Consumers are far more likely to impulsively grab a bag of veggie chips on the way to the register than to order them online. As far as pricing goes, Pulp Pantry’s new product will be competitive with other baked vegetable chips: most likely retailing below $5 for a larger bag and below $2 for a single-serving one.
Pulp Pantry currently works with five difference juiceries around California to source their pulp, and is in conversations with larger national suppliers. They have a test kitchen space in Kitchen United and work with a copacker in south L.A. to manufacture and package all of their upcycled snacks.
The startup isn’t the only company upcycling food waste into healthy snacks — or even the only company repurposing juicing pulp. Earlier this year protein behemoth Tyson Foods launched a crowdfunding campaign (and then another) for ¡Yappah!, their crisps made of poultry breast scraps, juicing purée, and spent brewing barley. Regrained turns spent grain from breweries into energy bars, and U.K.-based Snact transforms surplus produce into bars and fruit jerky.
Pulp Pantry has 3 full-time team members, two food science for R&D, and pastry chef. They’re currently bootstrapped but are in the midst of fundraising, and pitched at FoodBytes! NYC earlier this week.
According to Wintergreen Research, the U.S. juicing market is expected to reach $8.1 billion by 2024, nearly doubling from $4.3 billion in 2017. More juice means more pulp — and, thanks to Pulp Pantry and others — more snacks. Now if they could just make a plant-filled version of my personal snack guilty pleasure (hi, Dorito’s!), that would be much appreciated.
If you want to sample Pulp Pantry’s new savory chips, you can sign up to be a taste tester here.
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