Taiwanese born Kuan immigrated to the US with his family from Taiwan when he was 12 years old, and said it was “shocking” to see the amount of meat consumed by Americans. Back home, meat was so valuable that it was shared with others.
“We, in the US, are very fortunate in the bountifulness in agricultural prowess. Everything grows here. It is a land of plenty,” he told us while attending the recent Summer Fancy Food Show held in New York City last week.
However, food waste has bothered Kuan for years.
“Most of the time, whatever is left on our plates, we think of waste. But it is not,” he said, adding that while growing up in California, the steak left over from the previous night’s dinner was used to make a steak salad for lunch the next day.
That was how ¡YAPPAH! came into being.
Partnering with mission-driven companies
Kuan said: “The idea behind the brand was to partner with people who have a similar mission in solving food waste, such as Molson Coors that provides spent grains from its beer brewing for our crisps, and vegetable juice companies that are very strong in sustainability.
“In this way, we can help companies realize that we can create something unique from their waste stream.”
He noted two of ¡YAPPAH! varieties “serendipitously fall into the better-for-you attributes,” as they are packed with 8g of fiber per can.
“The [vegetable] pulp has value in it because of its fiber and protein. So we created two SKUs using discarded carrots and celery,” he said.
Kuan added the spent brewing grains, which deliver a nutty flavor to ¡YAPPAH! crisps are normally used for animal feed.
¡YAPPAH! protein crisps, which are currently being tested in a Treasure Island store in Chicago for consumer advice and feedback, also contain Tyson Foods’ own upcycled chicken tender trim.
“We’ll adjust the formulation of the products if we need to. [After the test,] we’re going to scale that up for a regional launch, and ultimately, expect an international launch within the next year,” said Kuan.
Kuan said ¡YAPPAH! snacks are packaged in cans because it does not make sense for Tyson Foods to create packaging waste while tackling food waste.
“Plastic pollution is a problem, so we are using aluminum cans because it is infinitely recyclable. We have all been trained how to recycle a can due to the recycling movement that has been happening for the last 20 years,” he said.
“They are also fun and allow us to stand out,” added Kuan.
Expanding snacks portfolio
A leader in the meat category, the protein crisps also allow Tyson Foods to expand its snacks portfolio.
“Our black labels, including Hillshire, are all about snacking. The original intent was to bring some of the salami and cheese pairings into snackable form. It is less about sitting down and consuming it, but making it mobile.
“Snacking is big. We are always busy and, so we are trying to create more snacks that could be easily carried, shared and passed around,” he said.