Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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A Plant-Based Project Faba Butter is created from aquafaba, the briny byproduct of cooked chickpeas normally poured down the drain. Functioning as an emul- sifier, the liquid binds with coconut oil, coconut cream, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and a little citric acid to extend its shelf life, producing what Altman calls "super butter." He asserts that not only does it taste like true butter and have a similar creamy texture and mouthfeel, it has a higher smoke point—450 degrees as opposed to dairy but- ter's 350 degrees—making it good for cooking and baking at higher temperatures. Sixteen-ounce tubs of Faba Butter will be sold for a suggested retail price of $6 in the dairy aisle starting this summer. To generate early revenue, the partners first launched the product a few months ago in the foodservice industry. Altman and McClure were not vegans in 2015 when they graduated from the University of Michigan, where they'd met and become friends. They moved to Chicago, got an apartment together, and joined the workforce—Altman at a start-up, McClure as an investment banker focused on the food industry. Having vegan girlfriends f lipped on a switch. "They were good cooks and made delicious food and we real- ized it was a misconception that you can't eat well if you're only eat- ing vegan," says Altman. McClure was the first to give up meat and dairy. Altman fol- lowed a few months later. "Once you see what goes on behind the scenes of what's on your plate, you can't unsee it," says McClure, 25. "The more I read about factory farms, I could not turn back." "I couldn't enjoy a cheeseburger anymore," Altman agreed. They discovered cool restaurants serving vegetable-focused menus and didn't miss much about their former carnivorous diets. They came to admire certain vegan cheeses and found satisfying substitutes for milk and sausage. They also felt good about not contributing to industrial agricultural and livestock practices, which studies have shown account for up to 18 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change. "But butter alternatives weren't doing it for us," Altman noted. Nothing quite tasted like the Irish Kerrygold butter they once loved. The imitation products lacked versatility in the kitchen, too, and usually contained monoglycerides, linked to fatty acids. Margarine, as well as select vegan butters on the market, also presented ethical problems. They oftentimes contain palm oil, whose extensive cultivation has led to large-scale deforestation and loss of animal habitats in Western Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Colombia. This knowledge proved pivotal. Altman and McClure began the hunt for a better vegan butter. What they were looking for didn't seem to exist. A business concept began churning in their brains, one that was mission-driven, a passion project. "I've always believed that food is a powerful tool in inf luencing social and cultural norms," Altman says. Creating an Alternative For months they tinkered in their Chicago kitchen. Altman recalls going through 40 different batches of ingredients, primarily using a basic hand mixer. They analyzed how it melted in a pan, evaluated how it tasted baked in muffins and croissants. Friends and family weighed in. They turned to expert advisers and developed chef part- nerships as well. "People in the food world are very receptive and willing to help," Altman says. "Don't be afraid to ask," he advises, having learned along the way, "You don't get if you don't ask." Of the drawn-out period of experimentation and setbacks, McClure adds, "If you're a pessimist, there are a million reasons to not go after something." They kept going, determined to keep the ingredients as clean as possible, avoiding GMOs, chemicals, artificial coloring, and preservatives. Through a process of elimination, they homed in on aquafaba, the chickpea liquid derived from the multitude of canned chickpeas they were eating. There were other advantages to aqua- faba, they realized: It would be cheap and easy to source and scale through hummus manufacturers. The moment they knew they had really hit on the right formula was when they f lew out to New York to meet with Mike Lee, the founder and CEO of Studio Industries, a food design and innova- tion agency. Among other projects, Lee led the development of new categories for Chobani, the Greek yogurt manufacturer. "He took a knife and tried a little and closed his eyes," Altman remembers. "'You've got it, man,' he said." Encouraged and optimistic, Altman and McClure invested producer profile — 2015 Aidan Altman and Andrew McClure graduate from the University of Michigan and move to Chicago — 2017 Perfect the recipe for Faba Butter after months of experimentation and move to Brooklyn — January 2018 Introduce Fora Foods Faba Butter at the 2018 Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco — June 2018 Faba Butter scheduled to be stocked in stores HIGHLIGHTS 108 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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