From Waste to Taste: The Story of Fabanaise
By Laura Villevieille, Head of Product Development for Sir Kensington’s.
At Sir Kensington’s we never launch a product unless we can make it better, and the vegan mayonnaise category was one we saw ready for improvement. We noticed a disconnect between the experience offered in the refrigerated, vegan mayonnaise set, and the one offered in the shelf stable, egg based mayonnaise set. The emulsions in vegan mayos were weak, which meant that they separated easily, both on their own and especially when paired with other food. We saw an opportunity to bring the same taste, experience and appeal of our egg-based mayonnaise to an entirely new audience.
Innovation never comes easy, and it was only after months of unsatisfying R&D with existing egg replacements (soy and pea protein) that we finally opened ourselves up to a new idea: Aquafaba. An intern stumbled upon a blog post positioning Aquafaba as a new miracle ingredient and a perfect substitute for egg whites in meringues. Aquafaba, of course, is the liquid derived from cooking chickpeas together with water, and is most often found at home in your pantry — the thick brown liquid you drain and discard from your chickpea cans.
We thought if Aquafaba can replace egg whites, what’s stopping it from replacing an egg yolk? It took only four attempts with Aquafaba to find a recipe we were happier with than the 200th iteration we had made with pea protein. From that point on there was no turning back.
True innovation means doing things for the first time. For us, that meant creating the world’s first supply chain of Aquafaba. Until then, Aquafaba was either an ingredient you threw away at home (after opening a can of chickpeas), or an ingredient that was discarded at a manufacturing level. With the help from our friends at Whole Foods, we were connected to hummus manufacturers across the United States. From big to small, we were surprised to find that it wasn’t that companies didn’t want to sell us their Aquafaba, but rather than companies did not have any Aquafaba to give away. Manufacturing hummus means processing chickpeas efficiently, which in most cases means using pre-cooked frozen chickpeas or steaming chickpeas – neither process resulting in an Aquafaba byproduct.
Luckily, our search eventually connected us to Ithaca Hummus – a local producer in upstate New York. Ithaca Hummus’ mission is to produce the freshest hummus possible, and in such, they soak and cook their chickpeas from scratch. For every batch of hummus produced, there was a waste stream of Aquafaba that accompanied it. It was clear to all parties that there was an opportunity to turn Ithaca Hummus’ waste stream into a revenue stream and negotiations ensued. Over the course of 5 months, Sir Kensington’s worked in tangent with the local Food Process Authority, co-packers and Ithaca Hummus to create the world’s first food safe supply chain of Aquafaba. Eventually packing it up for processing in January of 2016.
Today, our operation has outgrown the capacity of Ithaca Hummus and we continue to work with chickpea manufacturers across the industry, even extending outside the traditional realm of hummus. Every supplier we approach must be willing to build unique ingredient supply chains and pioneer innovation production techniques. At the end of the day, we are only as good as the company we keep, and finding innovative suppliers allows us to do for our customers what has never been done before.
Watch the story of Fabanaise below.