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Is climate candy set to be the next food niche? LA-based PurePlus says yes. The startup launched its first consumer brand, Faves, in 2021 as a sustainable alternative to Starburst. Today, each packet of chews contains one serving of fruits and veggies and saves scores of viable produce from ending up in landfill.
According to PurePlus, every Faves packet uses six carrots, three beets, one sweet potato, half a squash and one-fourth of a pumpkin that would have otherwise been considered surplus. A lot of the time, the products are made with ‘imperfect’ produce.
The ultimate aim of the company is to tackle food waste in a meaningful and healthy way and to usurp conventional candy’s stranglehold on the snack sector. The latter issue becomes extra noteworthy when the CEO’s legacy is laid bare.
Amy Keller moves from a sweet childhood to a sustainable future
Co-founder and CEO Amy Keller knows sweets. She’s the granddaughter of Norman Spangler, a second-generation leader at Spangler Candy Co. A staple of American culture, Spangler manufactures Dum Dums lollipops, candy canes, and other sweet treats. Instead of following in her family’s footsteps, she set up PurePlus in 2018.
Partnering with director Kevin Wall and his wife, Susan Smalley, Keller wanted to disrupt the regular candy sector. PurePlus works collaboratively with farmers to secure unsold or unsellable produce to convert into plant-based powders that can be used in multiple food and drink applications.
Tackling global food waste has to become a priority
Around 930 million tonnes of food is wasted every year, twice as much as previous estimates, with 61 percent coming from domestic households. 26 percent is attributed to food service and retail claims the last 13 percent.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals initiative has laid out plans to halve food waste by 2030. It is seeking to tackle the issue due to the increased burden on waste management systems, impact on climate change and food insecurity that it emboldens. Up to 10 percent of global carbon emissions are tied to waste produce.
PurePlus looks to convert waste produce into healthy snacks
PurePlus has so far launched two flavours of its fruit and veggie chews: strawberry and grape. Developed using its proprietary produce powder and sustainable palm oil, amongst other ingredients, they are marketed as healthy alternatives to standard sweet chews.
“Faves has set out to solve the climate crisis by preventing food waste by upcycling perfectly good fruits and vegetables to create a candy that’s good for people and the planet, thus, making both healthy choices and climate impact more accessible,” Amy Keller said in a statement. “We don’t make a product unless it will deliver a real benefit and is truly sustainable.”
The company aims to save 2.2 million pieces of produce from entering landfill this year. To meet such ambitious targets, future product development is already being considered, with hard candies at the top of the priority list. This will be funded, in part, by the $1.56 million Trousdale Ventures-led seed funding round that closed last year.
“I owe it to my investors and to my board to make sure we’re generating this critical cash flow to fuel growth, we’re starting out small, being that category definer, and we are making sure we are really thinking about how we are innovatively using those funds for the next 12 months leading into our Series A round,” Keller told Food Business News.
The rise of anti-food waste brands
PurePlus is not alone in seeking to give surplus a new lease on life. From fruit rinds to upcycled pasta and just about everything in between, multiple vegan brands are looking to leverage food discards as new must-try snacks. Spudsy takes the prize for best name, while saving more than 150 million tonnes of sweet potatoes from entering landfill, each year.
In Hong Kong, food waste that can’t be eaten is being used as compost for future food security. DBS Bank has converted the rooftop of one of its locations into an urban farm. It will use waste, which makes up 30 percent of Hong Kong’s municipal garbage, to make a nutrient-rich compost to feed growing crops.
Lead photo by PurePlus.