Meat snacks come in all shapes, sizes and flavors. Tyson Innovation Lab, the Chicago-based team of Tyson Foods Inc., tasked with bringing new consumer products to market in just six months, now shows us that meat snacks can help address food waste with the introduction of Yappah!


Given the scale of the food waste problem, Tyson Innovation Lab sought partnerships with like-minded food companies. Together they developed Yappah! Protein Crisps, which is a chicken-based snack crafted from rescued and upcycled vegetable and grain-based ingredients that might otherwise be left behind. 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,” says 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.


“With the Protein Crisps we are taking forgotten ingredients and crafting them into a delicious protein snack,” Hamdallah says. “For the Yappah! brand, sustainability is not an add-on, it’s our DNA. Fighting food waste is just the beginning.”


The statistics behind food waste are overwhelming. In the US, 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 lbs. 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.


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, which are: chicken carrot curry, chicken celery mojo, chicken IPA white cheddar and chicken shandy beer.


“This collaboration is consistent with our sustainable brewing priorities to address waste,” says David Durkee, senior director of research and development and innovation for Molson Coors, Denver. “There is great potential to upcycle our spent grains into amazing products and this is a key area of development for our innovation team.”


Chef Kang Kuan, executive chef at Tyson Innovation Lab, a Michelin-Star restaurant-trained professional, says, “We wanted to be ingredient driven in order to create a flavorful snack that people would absolutely love. 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. 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.”


Testing, evaluating and iterating is integral to the Tyson Innovation Lab approach. As such, Tyson Innovation Lab launched Yappah! Protein Crisps on the Indiegogo crowd-funding platform on May 31. This will be 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,” says 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.”