NEW YORK — Bruised beetroots and leftover beer grains find new life in a line of plant-based pancake and waffle mixes debuting from New York-based startup Otherworld. Founders Jennifer Ballen and Joseph Magliano launched the business to develop products that are “good for you and good for the planet.”
The pair partnered with chefs and a registered dietitian to finetune a formulation that contains no added sugar, dairy, nuts or soy. The just-add-water mixes incorporate whole wheat flour, fruits and vegetables. Varieties include original, with dates and zucchini; banana chocolate chip, which has cauliflower; apple cinnamon, with sweet potato; and chocolate, with beetroot, reishi and cacao.
“Nine of our different ingredients are sourced from food sources that would have otherwise been wasted,” said Ms. Ballen, chief executive officer. “We are continuing to add more and more upcycled ingredients into our supply chain, and we’re really happy about being able to tackle food waste through the products we’re selling.”
One ingredient is barley fiber and protein sourced from EverGrain, an Anheuser-Busch InBev-backed startup that converts saved grain from beer brewing into flour. It adds a slightly toasty taste while stabilizing the mixture without eggs or dairy, said Mr. Magliano, chief product officer.
Another supplier is Outcast Foods, which collects rejected, irregular and surplus produce from farmers, grocers and food manufacturers and creates dried powders.
“Outcast has a proprietary drying process that retains 99% of the nutrition, and that process is eco-friendly as well,” Mr. Magliano said. “Freeze-dried is like the holy grail of drying, but we wanted to stay away from that because it’s such an energy-intensive process. We had to make sure to find a partner who was doing this in an energy-efficient way so when we do eventually measure our carbon output, our dried ingredients aren’t through the roof.”
Otherworld mixes are packaged in recyclable tin cannisters, an eco-friendly option that stands out from the typical boxed and bagged assortment.
“We love the fact that our packaging is different than what you see on the shelf,” Ms. Ballen said.
Ms. Ballen began her career as an investment analyst and later led sustainability initiatives at AB InBev. Mr. Magliano worked in management consulting with a side gig as a professional chef. The product development team includes Dan Giusti, former head chef of Noma, and Brooke Siem, cookbook author and Food Network “Chopped” champion.
“Our original idea was a frozen waffle because it’s the most convenient way to deliver what we want to parents, kids, people,” Mr. Magliano said. “Then we got to thinking from a mission standpoint … if we are going to be a sustainable company, can we start with a product that is frozen, has to be shipped all over the country frozen? … We ultimately landed on ‘no.’”
Supply chain disruption delayed the brand launch by at least six months while the founders waited for packaging materials to arrive. By December, the products were available to purchase on the brand’s website, eatotherworld.com.
“Otherworld is a nod to this world we want to create, where good for you, good for the planet is the unwavering value,” Ms. Ballen said. “We’re doing things differently than they have been done before, and the branding is very fun when you think about creating a different universe that ties together nostalgic values but forward-thinking food.”
The team plans to release limited-edition flavors and is tinkering with gluten-free mixes. The brand eventually will expand into additional categories, reimagining classic comfort foods, she said.
“Our approach to nutrition is meeting people where they are,” Ms. Ballen said. “That’s why we started with joyful products instead of protein nibbles or seaweed snacks.”