Ages: 32 and 28
While making guacamole in the kitchen at the Drexel Food Lab, students Sheetal Bahirat, 32, and Zuri Masud, 28, realized they had accumulated quite a large pile of scraps, which was counterproductive to their mission at Drexel.
“We ended up with more avocado peels and seeds than pulp,” says Bahirat. “Considering that I am a food waste researcher and that the food lab works on making upcycled ingredients, there was no way that I could throw them away.”
Avocado seeds alone contribute about 15 million pounds of waste each week in the U.S. So instead of adding to that, Bahirat and Masud brainstormed how they could reuse it. The result is Avoh!, a ready-to-drink tea beverage created from a patented process that extracts the nutrients from avocado seeds while making them compostable.
Currently, Avoh! is waiting on FDA approval before launching commercially. Bahirat explains, “As something like this has never been done before, we have been working on understanding the chemical composition of the extract and ensuring there are no toxins in the beverage.”
In the meantime, Bahirat and Masud have raised $12,000 in grant money to help conduct taste tests with over 500 consumers and have teamed with Whole Foods Market and local restaurants to source the avocado seeds. The students have also identified a USDA-certified production facility with the capacity to fill 20,000 bottles a day so that Avoh! can ramp up operations and scale the business.
Arielle Feger is content associate for Specialty Food Magazine.
Photo Credit: Avoh!