A chef-led start-up, Spare Food Co., has launched its first upcycled waste food product - a line of sparkling beverages based on acid whey - called Spare Tonic.
The company was founded by brothers Adam and Jeremy Kaye – Adam a former chef and culinary director at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and Jeremy a former executive at clothing company Patagonia. Marrying their experiences in both the food industry and in sustainable production, the brothers created a start-up with the aim of upcycling waste or by-product ingredients.
Spare Food Co.’s first product is a line of tonic drinks that use acid whey, a by-product from yoghurt production. For every cup of yoghurt produced, three cups of whey is created, with the state of New York responsible for up to half a billion kilos of whey yearly.
While Spare Tonic utilises so-called ‘waste’ ingredients, the drink is a good source of protein, potassium and magnesium, and an excellent source of calcium and vitamins B12 and B6. It also contains probiotics from the whey.
“So often what is being discarded in our food system is where so much of the nutrition is,” Adam Kaye told Food Business News. “In the case of strained yogurt, the fact that you’re losing up to three quarters of your raw material, which is where the good stuff is, is mind-blowing. What’s even more mind-blowing is there is a multibillion industry that is predicated upon losing three-quarters of the volume of your raw material. I don’t think you’d pass business school if you had to propose that as a business.”
“We’re not done with whey yet,” Kaye said. “There’s many line extensions of whey-based beverages that are certainly in the pipeline and in the cards... Whey as an ingredient generally beyond beverages has great potential.”
“This whole upcycled food world is relatively nascent, and we are at the cutting edge of that. What we’re doing here is, in our view, we’re fixing a broken food system. We are rewiring a highly inefficient system.”