Company: Tyson Foods
Introduced: June 2018
Suggested Retail Price: $2.99
Product Snapshot: Food, meet the future! Tyson Innovation Lab, the Tyson Foods, Inc. team tasked with bringing new consumer products to market in just six months, launches ¡Yappah!, its first brand. It debuted May 31st with a campaign on Indiegogo, a crowd-funding platform, and challenges consumers to re-think snacks for good. The brand name was inspired by a tradition in the South American Andes called “yapa,” which refers to the little something extra a merchant gives to a valued customer so that nothing gets wasted.
“The ¡Yappah! brand mission is unique, important and far-reaching,” said Rizal Hamdallah, head of Tyson Innovation Lab. “The brand was created to inspire people and partners to rethink their relationship to food and how it impacts society. Through this launch, we intend to address global food challenges such as food waste.”
Given the scale of the food waste problem, Tyson Innovation Lab sought partnerships with like-minded food companies. The first product under the ¡Yappah! brand, Protein Crisps, is crafted from rescued and upcycled vegetable and grain-based ingredients that might otherwise be left behind.
Tyson Foods provides upcycled chicken breast trim that is still full of flavor and protein and combines it with either rescued vegetable puree from juicing or rescued Molson Coors spent grain from beer brewing to create the line’s four flavors.
“We could not have developed the Protein Crisps without the enthusiastic collaboration of partners like Molson Coors,” Hamdallah said. “We will continue to seek out other great partners, large and small, who have resources and goals that complement our own.”
"This collaboration is consistent with our sustainable brewing priorities to address waste,” said David Durkee, Senior Director of R&D and Innovation for Molson Coors. “There is great potential to upcycle our spent grains into amazing products and this is a key area of development for our innovation team."
The ¡Yappah! brand is designed to be an umbrella under which future products and product categories will be launched that help address major social and sustainability challenges related to food.
“With the Protein Crisps we are taking ‘forgotten’ ingredients and crafting them into a delicious protein snack,” continues Hamdallah. “For the ¡Yappah! brand, sustainability is not an add-on, it’s our DNA. Fighting food waste is just the beginning.”
In January 2018, Tyson Innovation Lab was challenged to re-think the culinary possibilities for ingredients that are typically left unused during food production, often becoming food waste.
“We wanted to be ingredient-driven in order to create a flavorful snack that people would absolutely love,” said Chef Kang Kuan, executive chef at Tyson Innovation Lab.
Chef Kang is no stranger to innovation, having built his culinary career at such highly original and nationally acclaimed restaurants as the French Laundry and Morimoto.
“I was thrilled by the opportunity to source ‘forgotten’ ingredients and compose them into something more flavor nuanced and protein-filled than typical snack foods,” said Kang. “People might not realize that vegetable pulp left behind during juicing is arguably better and richer tasting than the juice itself, and spent grain is surprisingly delicious. So, we had these amazing flavors to work with. The result is a crispy snack that comes in four culinary-driven flavors that will appeal to all food lovers.”
The four flavors are:
From Rescued Veggie Puree
- Chicken Carrot - Curry Flavored
- Chicken Celery - Mojo Flavored
From Rescued Spent Grain
- Chicken IPA White Cheddar
- Chicken - Shandy Beer Flavored
The team is passionate about the idea that rescuing ‘forgotten’ ingredients means using food to its full potential. The statistics behind the wasted food challenge are overwhelming. In the U.S. alone, nearly one-third of all food used in food production ends up as waste, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The average person wastes 3.5 pounds of food per week and uneaten food equates to Americans throwing out as much as $218 billion each year, most of which ends up rotting in landfills where it emits harmful greenhouse gases.
Testing, evaluating and iterating is integral to the Tyson Innovation Lab approach. As such, Tyson Innovation Lab is launching ¡Yappah! Protein Crisps on the Indiegogo crowd-funding platform in May followed by a 90-day pilot at one Chicago-based supermarket in July.
“We think a chef-composed snack is a groundbreaking idea, but are cognizant that products fighting food waste are in their nascent stages,” said Santiago Proaño, brand lead, Tyson Innovation Lab. “Indiegogo is a great channel for testing since consumers on the platform are known for being early adopters of new to the world ideas and products. We want to connect directly with this enthusiastic community that cares about creating better food. Their reaction to the product, and their engagement with us, will help us get ready for what we hope will be a much broader rollout.”
Tyson Innovation lab, formed in late 2017, is a specially-selected team charged with driving faster innovation, new growth and increasing speed to market for new products. In six months, the team must design a product that is market launch ready. This small yet agile and highly creative team is forging new paths as Tyson Foods strives to transform itself into a leading twenty-first century food company.
“Tyson Foods’ leadership team understands that to meet the global food challenges of today and tomorrow, the company has to make innovation, agility and outside-the-box thinking central to its DNA,” said Hamdallah. “Our mission at Tyson Innovation Lab is to spearhead the creative process and come up with solutions that will make a positive difference in the lives of the next generations. We have a startup mentality—we must be creative and resourceful enough to work speedily. We are employing some innovative methods to reach this high-speed goal.”
Tyson Innovation Lab’s framework uses a unique acceleration phase that enables the team to create and test a product in a six-month window.
The team uses approaches and tools that are not traditionally part of a CPG company such as design sprint in the ideation stage combined with empathy exercises and rapid prototyping.
Tyson Foods is a company that focuses on “AND” rather than “OR” scenarios. Often food companies make choices and decide between “speed or scale,” “innovation or incremental,” “inhouse creation or acquisition.” Tyson Innovation Lab’s creation is a result of taking a step back and looking at how things could be done differently.
“We refer to it as failing forward,” said Hamdallah. “We try new approaches, learn from our mistakes and keep rethinking how we can do things better.”