Eric Healy, founder and CEO of AvoLov calls avocados the ‘alternative meat from nature,’ and said they are well positioned to compete in the fast growing plant-based foods category.
Avocados tick all the boxes when it comes to current diets, including vegan and paleo; are free from allergens - wheat, dairy or grains; and check all the trend boxes: non-GMO, high in good fat and fiber.
"It seems like an obvious product that would go viral." - Eric Healy
AvoLov was first unveiled at Expo West in California in March and showcased at the Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago last month.
Dehydrating an avocado is possible
A former mechanic aerospace engineer, Healy comes from a family that has been involved in the natural food world for some time - Healy’s uncle founded Kettle Foods and his parents started the No-Bake Cookie Company six years ago in Oregon.
“The trend of snacks made from dehydrated fruits and vegetables, such as kale chips, has exploded over the past two years. Other items like coconut and beet chips are also popular,” said Healy.
However, although avocadoes’ popularity has skyrocketed - particularly in the US - Healy is surprised nobody had combined the two trends to produce avocado chips.
“It seems like an obvious product that would go viral,” he said.
However, he quickly realized traditional dehydration methods used for other veggies would not work on avocadoes, but donned his engineering hat and spent two years developing a feasible method.
“We eventually secured an IP on our process and now have a number of international patents on it,” he added.
A closely guarded secret, he did not disclose the details of the technology, but said it is a “low-temperature process that preserves all the nutrition and flavors [of an avocado], and added other ingredients, like tapioca starch, for example, to give it a crunchy texture.”
AvoLov currently sources Hass avocados from Mexico and California, according to Healy, the best variety in terms of nutrition profile, and manufactures the chips in a plant in Oregon.
“We want to be as sustainable as possible, making sure farmers and the environment are well taken care of,” he said.
However, he added it is tough for a startup to monitor the avocado-growing farms for sustainability purposes.
“[Sustainability] is definitely something we intend to put a lot of effort into… As we grow, we’ll be able to dictate more with our supply chain,” he said.
Although focused on distributing the products in the US, AvoLov has received interest from natural and premium retailers from as far afield as Japan.
“We’ll prioritize with which US retailer we’ll launch in the next few months… we’re more focused on increasing our production at this point,” he said.
“We’re also talking to a full spectrum of investors, from angel investors all the way up to private equity firms, to bring in some additional funding to scale up the business.”
AvoLov chips are currently available on Amazon in four flavors: Chili & Lime, Zesty Nacho, Sriracha and Pink Himalayan Salt. Each 1.5-ounce bag retails for $4.99.