Host Amy Koonin Taylor is joined by one of the fiercest food waste warriors yet, Pulp Pantry CEO Kaitlin Mogentale. Addictive chips are made from upcycled fruit and veggie pulp, giving second life to many superfoods. What started as an innovative idea on her college campus has quickly turned into a pantry staple for health- and eco-conscious consumers.
On how her senior year of college inspired her entrepreneurial path:
KAITLIN MOGENTALE: “As University of Southern California (USC) kids, “University of spoiled children” is the reputation that they give everyone. And it is true. I mean, a lot of kids are able to drive off campus and go buy their organic produce, even though there really aren’t grocery stores in the surrounding community. That was kind of what it was, my friend had driven off campus, gotten some organic produce, was juicing it, and there was so much waste. There were so many handfuls of this vibrant pulp, and it was really a tiny amount of juice that had been produced in this particular juicer.”
“It was just like, what? This is what happens? I just could not believe it. She looked at me, and all my friends kind of knew I was this crazy zero waste lady. She was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so embarrassed. I usually don’t know what to do with the pulp. I usually throw it away.’ Of course I’m sitting there, I’m like, ‘You know what, I’m going to try to figure out some recipes that we can make with the juice pulp.’ So I took it home. I lived in a house of 10 girls. This was my senior year of college. I just made some crazy carrot cakes and carrot cookies and brought them to everyone to try.”
On how they source their pulp from local suppliers:
KAITLIN MOGENTALE: “We deal with all the logistical elements, we’re obviously collecting the pulp at their location, but after that we take it off their hands, we truck it up to our facility, and then we try to keep everything local to California. So it’s a pretty seamless process. Our manufacturing plant is in the Central Valley of California. Everything’s pretty much within reach. I drive to all of our manufacturing runs, all those good things. Suja was really our first large partner, and we would just essentially source from them. They had five to 10,000 pounds per week of kale. They’d have 20,000 pounds of celery that was the pulp by-product. It’s been actually really interesting because what’s taken a turn in the past few months is actually, instead of really focusing on the cold press juice pulp, we started looking at some of the larger sources of I think, cosmetic rejections in the industry. We started looking actually at salad plants. We’ve partnered with so many, I can’t even tell you how many different manufacturers I’ve worked with to just figure out where we can really offer the greatest value. We found a salad plant and they have a lot of cosmetic rejections that can’t go into their basically pre-packaged salad kits. So we’ve been taking a lot of that by-product and turning it into basically consistent feedstock that then can go to make our chips.”
On the positive environmental ROI of Pulp Pantry:
KAITLIN MOGENTALE: “[Over] the last year […] we upcycled 50,000 pounds of food, which we’re definitely on track to more than double this year, which is super exciting. With the actual impact that that had for water, for example, we’ve saved over nine million liters of water is correlated to the product that we’ve upcycled thus far throughout the life cycle of the pulp chips line, which we launched in late 2019.”
On her favorite pulp chip flavor:
KAITLIN MOGENTALE: “Oh my God. I love the barbecue, and it’s kind of sad because it’s the one that sells the least, but I think it’s like people just try it and you’ll be addicted too.”
Listen to more episodes of the Town Haul Podcast.
Amy Koonin Taylor is Marketing Content and Media Manager at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.