How I Upcycled Unwanted Foods Into Tasty—and Profitable—Snacks

Betty Lu, originally from Singapore, is the CEO and founder of Confetti Snacks, which offers tasty, healthy alternatives to potato chips. These chips are made from upcycled fruits and vegetables that otherwise would have gone to waste. The company’s year-over-year growth has averaged more than 300% since its founding in

2018. BETTY LU: Why is 95% of our snack industry potato chips and extruded corn puffs, which are nutritionally bankrupt? There must be a better way to do this. There are literally hundreds and thousands of fruits and veggies in this world that taste better than a potato chip. They

are so much more nutrient dense. What if we can take all these amazing exotic fruits and veggies and make them taste even better than a potato chip in terms of mouthfeel, texture, nutrient density, and really, really curate a fun, adventurous, magical experience? 1/3 of edible produce are thrown

away every year due to crop surpluses that farms can’t sell or imperfect foods. When you walk into any supermarket, every apple is exactly the same size. Something that is too small or too big get rejected purely due to aesthetic reasons, not because they are not good to eat

or they are not ripe or they are not healthy. 28% of agricultural land in the United States is used to growing food that is never eaten. Globally, we do lose about

$1 trillion USD per year on food that is wasted or lost. Can we take these filtered-out products

and upcycle them to something useful to fight food waste and hunger? We can be climate focused and planet focused but still be profitable as well. If you have an imperfect product, rather than having it in a landfill, if I can take it from you for free or at

a very low cost and I can upcycle it to something else, it actually reduces my cost as well. It enhances my profit margin. It enhances my gross margin, and it’s actually very sustainable as well. And it also makes my investors and my VCs happy because we can optimize

that profit margin. The interests can all be aligned, in that sense. I started with just a one-woman show for the first few years and really bootstrapped and was super scrappy and slowly started proving the proof of concepts. We got the first person to write us the check, which

is the Singapore government. We tested it in different farmers markets, food festivals, bazaars, and people really loved the product, and that’s how we started raising venture capital and scaling it up to where it is today. The biggest challenge as a startup is that you do not have infinite

amounts of resources that the big boys have. And I’m not a big believer in raising crazy amounts of capital and burning like crazy. I think that there’s a smarter way to do it. How can we assemble a world-class team and talent and use resources in the most cost-effective

way to execute in the market? It’s very, very important to have exceptional quality, so consistent, exceptional quality that is scalable. Our current outfit can produce 50 million bags every month and consistent quality every single time because I’m a perfectionist. So the experience for the consumers have to be

really magical and beautiful. We have a very strong hunger to succeed, despite the odds. We are the underdogs. But in our case– I’m a cat person, so I love cats, and I would like to say that we are the “undercats.” How far can we go to change the

status quo and reinvent the snack space?

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