There is always room for a new female superhero. Wonder Woman is off protecting the forests. Storm has her hands full commanding the weather. Mera, Queen of Atlantis, creates and controls all the water on this earth—and that’s a full-time job! So now we have the Food Waste Warrior, Kaitlin Mogentale, who is determined to save the planet from the millions of pounds of pulp that are being dumped annually into landfills.
Kaitlin was earning a degree in environmental sciences from the University of Southern California when she taught underserved youth in Los Angeles how to grow and cook fresh vegetables. She went to Panama during winter interim to collaborate with professionals from around the world on human-centered design and social entrepreneurship and spent a semester at the University of Queensland in Australia for experiential coursework in environmental management, geographic information systems, and earth sciences. But it was back home in a friend’s kitchen that she was able to zero in on her mission: ensuring that good food does not go to waste. The friend was making carrot juice and Kaitlin noticed all the pulp left behind—the pulp that contains 95% of the carrot’s fiber and 50% of its nutrients. To think of that fiber being thrown away when it could be keeping blood sugar and hunger in check and reducing the risk of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes!
That’s when Kaitlin put on her cape and founded Pulp Pantry, a social enterprise that produces snack foods made from recycled fruit and vegetable pulp. She spent Fridays collecting pulp from juice bars around LA and first made snacks for her classmates, friends and professors. Then she expanded into selling her snacks at the University’s farmers market. When she realized the full potential of her mission, she hired on a pastry chef and food science students from California Polytechnic State University to develop formulations for snacks. The result was the Pulp Pantry Chip, a healthy, delicious, sustainable product that is helping to solve major health problems as well as a pressing environmental challenge.
Today, Pulp Pantry Chips are sold in all 50 states in Whole Foods, Target, Thrive Market and specialty retailers.
Pulp Pantry Chips
Pulp Pantry is dedicated to transforming forgotten, nutrient-rich ingredients, such as high fiber juice pulp, into delicious, healthy snacks that make it easy to get your daily servings of fruit, vegetables and fiber. Pulp Chips are vegetable-based, fiber-rich, flavorful upgrades of what we have long known as “junk food.” But these crispy chips are made from all healthy ingredients, including vegetables, cassava and superfoods such as chia seeds.
Pulp Chips have more fiber than kale chips and fewer carbs than potato and tortilla chips while containing, per serving, 5g fiber and fewer than 150 calories. They are grain-free, gluten-free and non-GMO.
Varieties of Pulp Pantry Chips
- Jalapeño Lime: Slightly spicy and distinctively tangy, pairs perfectly with guacamole and salsa.
- Spicy Barbecue: Bold, smoky sweet and savory, a BBQ recipe without the added sugar.
- Sea Salt: Gently salted, simple, lets any of your favorite dips take center stage.
- Salt ‘n’ Vinegar: Salty with a tangy punch, think carnival or beach fries.
Pulp Pantry Props
- Pulp Pantry was one of the first companies to have their packaging Certified Plastic Neutral in partnership with rePurpose Global. For every ounce of plastic they produce, they fund recycling programs to take that same amount of plastic out of the environment. The Pulp Chips bag is as small and thin as possible to save material, about half the size of other 5-ounce snack bags.
- Pulp Pantry Chips won a NEXTY Award for 2022 for “Best New Salty Snack.” The awards are presented by the New Hope Network in line with its mission to grow healthy markets. They recognize the most progressive, innovative, inspiring and trustworthy products in the natural products industry.
Pulp Pantry in the Shark Tank
In the Shark Tank, entrepreneur Kaitlin Mogentale sought a $500,000 investment for 10% equity in her company. Her pitch included compelling distribution data, with production costs per bag at $1.70, wholesale prices at $3.24, and retail prices between $4.99 and $5.49. The company had generated revenue of nearly $250,000 in the previous year and projected revenue of just under $500,000 for the current year, demonstrating profitability with a net worth of $20,000. Retail sales accounted for 70% of overall sales, with distribution through approximately 600 outlets, and third-party e-commerce platforms like Thrive Market and Imperfect Produce contributed 20% of their sales.
During the negotiations, Barbara Corcoran dropped out first, citing the competitive space, and Kevin O’Leary offered $500,000 for 25% equity due to valuation concerns. Lori Greiner offered a $500,000 loan at 6% interest for a 10% equity stake, while Mark Cuban started with an offer of $500,000 for 20% equity. Kaitlin countered for 15%, and eventually, Mark agreed to 17% equity, finalizing the deal.
|Business||Vegan snacks made from discarded produce pulp|
|Ask||$500,000 for 10% equity|
|Result||$500,000 for 17% equity|
|Other Offers||Kevin O’Leary: $500,000 for 25% equity; Lori Greiner: $500,000 loan for 10% equity|
|Selling Points||$500,000 projected sales, 70% retail sales, distribution through 600 outlets, 20% sales from e-commerce platforms|
Pulp Pantry After Shark Tank
After its appearance on Shark Tank, Pulp Pantry experienced a significant boost in its business. The company saw an immediate influx of orders, with its jalapeño lime flavored chips selling out the night the episode aired, leading to a month-long wait for customers. Kaitlin Mogentale, the founder, faced challenges such as not having the same leverage as larger snack companies and using a co-packer due to the lack of a manufacturer. Despite these hurdles, Pulp Pantry managed to increase its margins slightly through cost negotiations and the ongoing “Shark Tank effect”.
Pulp Pantry continued to sell its four tortilla chip flavors, with 4-packs priced at $20 and variety 8-packs at $35. The company’s products are available on Amazon and at various stores like Good Eggs, Ozark Natural Foods, Fresh Thyme, H-E-B’s Central Market, Go Puff/BevMo, Imperfect Foods, and Vitacost. With Mark Cuban as a business partner, the company’s distribution is expected to expand further. Pulp Pantry’s revenue was estimated between $100,000 and $5 million as of 2023.
The company has focused on maintaining consistency in its products, despite the varying pulp and scraps from different manufacturers. Mogentale hinted at launching new products in the future while maintaining the quality that customers expect. Pulp Pantry has been on an upward trajectory, potentially joining the ranks of other beloved sustainable foods.
Pulp Pantry expanded its product range in response to growing demand and has been featured in LA Weekly, SnackNation, and NPR. The brand offers a monthly subscription service and has achieved Certified Plastic Neutral packaging in collaboration with rePurpose Global. Pulp Pantry Chips won the NEXTY Award for 2022 in the “Best New Salty Snack” category and are now available in all 50 states, sold at major retailers like Whole Foods and Target. In addition, the company’s products are available through Amazon, and partnerships with various retail chains and food delivery services have been established, making them accessible through platforms like Go Puff, Juicepress, and Urban Outfitters, as well as in numerous stores across the U.S.