One area of sustainability practices in the food system comes from handling waste streams. One of the more popular trends is upcycling food waste.
Reveal is taking avocado seeds that would normally go into landfill, extracting nutrients from the seeds, and creating a sustainable probiotic beverage. Sheetal Bahirat took some time to talk about her innovative approach to upcycling avocados. The best part is that once the extraction process is done, these avocado seeds can get composted!
What’s your story?
The idea behind Reveal came to fruition back in graduate school. After making a huge batch of guacamole and having more waste than pulp spoke to me.
At the time, I was pursuing a Master of Science in Culinary Art and Science. I turned my thesis into how to utilize avocado waste. Specifically, I looked at what nutrients and antioxidants are in avocado seeds and how to extract them, as well as investigating the safety piece.
I did a lot of research on to figure out what we were extracting. So figuring out what potential toxins could be in the avocado seed, looking for them, making sure that the extract did not contain any toxins, then updating the process to make sure that we didn’t produce anything undesirable. We also talked to different professionals, from food safety experts and toxicologists to lawyers.
Why does this matter and what is the impact?
Avocado seeds currently go into landfill because they don’t compost well. In the US, we throw away 15 million pounds of avocado seeds every single week into the landfill. We’re able to remove the avocado seeds from that waste stream, create this beverage, and then compost the seeds at the end.
How do you differ from other competitors in the space?
Generally speaking, we are competing with other beverages — it’s a highly competitive space. However, in terms of the avocado seed, we are the first ones to have something like this come to the market. So there’s no direct competition.
Our current market fit is people that want to drink kombucha for the health benefits but can’t get over the flavor of it. Reveal lets people drink the antioxidants and get probiotics, but without the pungent flavor profile that kombucha has — it’s much easier, lighter, and fruitier. Reveal also has almost no calories, it’s 15 calories a bottle, whereas a kombucha will be like a minimum of 40.
What are the current trends in the sector?
There’s so much potential for upcycling foods, it’s important that the food system becomes more sustainable. That’s something that our country and the industry hasn’t really thought about until recently. This is going to be one of the ways to reduce the amount of hungry people that we have. Consumers are demanding it, and we need it for the environment.
What does the future look like?
I think people are becoming more conscious of their impact on the environment. As a result, during quarantine when people aren’t going anywhere, we are faced with the amount of waste that we create. It’s kind of scary — you don’t leave the house for a week, but you have a garbage piled up.
It really shows you something like normally when you’re out and about, you throw things away in different places, and it’s distributed. But during quarantine, everyone is stuck in one place and throwing away garbage in one place.
I think people want to contribute to the environmental goals that the whole world is striving towards.