Food Entrepreneur - September 15, 2020 - 6

FOOD ENTREPRENEUR

From

CONCEPT to
COMMERCIALIZATION
Following the seed of innovation
on its path to market

BY MONICA WATROUS

A

couple of years ago a curious
graduate student on a quest to
reduce food waste began experimenting with avocado seeds.
The non-compostable byproduct of
a millennial obsession contributes millions of pounds of waste each week in the
United States, and yet, as Sheetal Bahirat
discovered, the pits hold potential health
benefits.
The insights led Ms. Bahirat and
fellow graduate student Zuri Masud
to develop Reveal, a ready-to-drink
beverage brand capturing the nutritional
properties of avocado seeds while diverting them from landfills. In mid-August,
the startup celebrated its market debut
in Philadelphia through a partnership
with food delivery platform goPuff.
Avocado seed brew is the first
product from Hidden Gems Beverage Co.
The drink contains apple cider vinegar
and is lightly sweetened with monk fruit.
Flavors include rose mint, mango ginger
and grapefruit lavender.
"There are lots of things we can do
with the avocado seed, ... and we can potentially do a lot of things with the peel,
6

Food Business News

considering these are all very high in
antioxidants," Ms. Bahirat said. "We also
have a whole entire world of food waste
we can tackle. We can do things with
mango pits, pineapple skins and leaves
that no one is doing anything about."

A fruitful discovery
The avocado seed brew was born
in the Drexel Food Lab, a food product
development and culinary innovation
center at Philadelphia-based Drexel
University, where Jonathan Deutsch,
PhD, teaches a philosophy of culinary
improvisation, encouraging his students
to experiment and fail without penalty.
"I feel really strongly that if you
know the outcome of the experiment
before you start it, you're not really
teaching research; you're teaching how
to use the lab equipment," said Dr. Deustch, a research chef and culinary arts
professor. "I have colleagues who teach
culinary classes by handing out recipes
and encouraging students to follow
the recipe and get the result exactly as
intended. That's definitely a good way
to master fundamental cooking skills,

but... somewhere in every culinary or
food science program there has to be that
opportunity to try things, make mistakes
and take risks."
Launched in 2014, Drexel Food Lab
engages students to develop marketdriven products that are desirable to
consumers and improve the food system.
The lab's clients range from student-led
startups to multinational companies like
McCormick & Co., Bimbo Bakeries USA
and the Hain Celestial Group. As Ms.
Masud pursued her master's degree in
food science, she and other classmates
collaborated with the Hershey Co. to
research and develop snack products.
Through a project with foodservice
provider Aramark Corp., she conducted
market research and created vegan and
vegetarian menu items for college dining
halls.
"The idea of having college students
collaborate with corporate chefs from
Aramark on plant-forward items was a
great way to say to clients, 'We not only
understand who your market is; these
ideas came out of students who are in
your market,'" Dr. Deutsch said. "It was
really innovative compared to hiring a
September 15, 2020



Food Entrepreneur - September 15, 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Entrepreneur - September 15, 2020

Food Entrepreneur - September 15, 2020 - 1
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