Enrique González holds up a plastic pouch filled with a whitish powder. He assures me it is not cocaine.
González, 27, and his partner, Flavio Siller, 26, are the cofounders of EatLimmo, a food-tech startup in Monterrey, Mexico that’s finding nutritional gold where others just see garbage.
EatLimmo is using food science to turn mango seeds, peels and leftover pulp into a fiber-packed powder that can serve as an emulsifier to replace up to 50% of the eggs and fat in baked goods, substitute for sugar, pectin and anti-foaming agents in jams and jellies and even serve as a texurizer and natural preservative in sausages and other processed meats.
And they’re not stopping with mangoes. The company, which has a patent pending on its proprietary process, is also researching uses for the seeds and peels of avocados and other tropical fruits produced in Mexico.
“Our mission is to feed 10 billion people in 2050 in a healthy, affordable and sustainable way,” González says from his Monterrey office during our video chat. “We see a lot of byproducts and residues with a lot of nutrition. They can have a lot of functionality.”
EatLimmo is one of a new crop of companies that are creatively tackling the problem of food waste, a big culprit in global warming that adds about 3.3. billion tons of carbon dioxide to the environment every year. Some enterprising startups are creating their own branded food products out of waste, such as Regrained, which makes granola bars from spent beer grains. Others, such as ag-tech startups WISErg andCalifornia Safe Soil, are turning food waste intofertilizer.
EatLimmo, which is just beginning to generate revenue, presently uses about a half-ton of mango residues a week from fruit processors, who usually have to pay someone to cart the stuff way. By the end of the year, the company hopes to handle as many as five tons at a time, says Siller. The company, which is partnering with Griffith Laboratories, a food ingredients developer, does all the processing in its own warehouse facility in Monterrey, which houses their offices, a laboratory and, soon, a commercial-grade test kitchen.
In June 2015, EatLimmo was named Grand Champion in the XCS Challenge, a startup competition for promising “early-stage innovators,” at Singularity University‘s Exponential Finance conference. The cofounders also participated in the inaugural class of the Silicon Valley think tank’s SU Labs accelerator program, receiving $100,000 in exchange for a small stake in the company. They expect to close on $500,000 in convertible debt in June or July.