One problem that afflicts all pressed organic companies is the extraordinary amount of pulp that they must deal with. Even though making pressed juice requires that the pulp be removed, in no way does it mean that this leftover fruit or vegetable puree is not valuable.
However, most juice companies just don’t have a need for it, which means that the pulp gets sent off to be composted. While composting does recycle it and is environmentally superior than hauling it to the garbage dump (food that is not properly disposed of releases methane gas, which is 20x more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide), a lot of juice company owners agonize over the fact that they are wasting this precious organic food.
The people at Forager Project were no exception.
“We were pressing vegetables for our juice and had this beautiful, nutritious fiber that we were paying to be composted. Since we are in California and are very concerned about operating a sustainable business, especially with the drought in our state, we knew there had to be a better way,” acknowledged JC Hanley, co-founder of the company.
So, Stephen Williamson, Forager Project’s CEO, started making chips in his kitchen with the puree from the juicing process and eventually ended up with three flavors – Beets, Roots, and Greens.
But developing good recipes wasn’t the only thing that needed to be figured out. The next challenge, an even more formidable one, was dealing with the complexities of the supply chain.
Production of the chips requires consistency of the raw materials. Since the company is currently sourcing pulp from its own juicing process for the chips, having one product line be dependent on the other makes things very difficult. Supply and demand levels for both the juice and chips must always be taken into account every single day.
As of now, Forager Project is using 100% of its Greens puree for its Greens chips and 100% of its Roots puree for its Roots chips. However, the demand for the Beets chips is exceeding current demand for its Beets juice. Not wanting to lose these potential sales, the company is exploring using pulp from other manufacturers that are now composting their organic vegetable puree.
Launched in the beginning of 2016 and currently being rolled out to the entire country, these vegetables chips first came to my attention at Natural Products Expo West in March when I visited the Forager Project booth. Not only were the chips great tasting – Beets are my favorite flavor – but the fact that the company expended so much effort to put this pulp to good use left a very strong impression on me.
“We worked really hard to re-imagine the tortilla chip, and it is very rare for vegetables to be the number one ingredient in vegetable chips because so many other products have corn as their primary ingredient,” said JC Hanley. “Yet more than that, we hope that this inspires other people to be more efficient in their manufacturing process and to use everything. The puree is beautiful stuff, and it is a shame for it to go to waste.”
Awesome job, Forager Project!