In the past, you could only see kelp jerky in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants. But thanks to an NYC-based startup, you soon might see kelp jerky in your kitchen.
Beyond the Shoreline is a startup whose mission is “to create a new platform for food that’s just as healthy for humans as it is for our planet.” To do that, they’ve developed an animal-free sustainable snack that’s as delicious as beef jerky, minus the environmental impact.
Whereas raising cattle is costly in terms of resources, which adds to the problem of global warming, harvesting kelp is the complete opposite.
“Seaweed sucks five times more carbon out of the water than land-based plants do out of the air,” co-founder Courtney Boyd Myers told Fast Company.
The kelp jerky comes in three flavours: Sea Salt, BBQ, and High Thai’d. It’s high in protein, but to give the product that enticing umami flavour, the company added ingredients like pea protein and mushroom stems. Each serving has between 7 to 10 grams of protein, comparable to beef jerky’s 9 to 12 grams.
Beyond the Shoreline will start selling the kelp jerky, each 1.5-ounce bag priced at US$3.99 (AUS$5), in January through their website. They plan to, later on, expand through Amazon, Thrive Market, and specialty food retailers in places like New York, Boston, LA, and San Francisco.
We checked in on Beyond the Shoreline to find out more about their revolutionary product.
What inspired you to make kelp jerky? How’d you discover the potential of this ingredient?
“Two years ago, I started working with the nonprofit GreenWave and learned all about the profound benefits for the planet of ocean farming as well as the intriguing benefits of kelp for human consumption.
“I was helping GreenWave with fundraising by organizing an annual athletic event called Bike the Shoreline, which saw 12 riders raise $20,000 in a weekend for ocean farming. We asked the farmers what they really needed help with and they said, they needed our help creating a consumer market for kelp!
“So we set out to do just that with Kelp Jerky. Seaweed is often associated with Asian markets so we decided to make the most American product we could think of – jerky – with locally and sustainably sourced kelp.”
Please tell us more about the beginnings of the company. How’d you develop the product? What were the initial challenges?
“Kelp and seaweeds, in general, are tricky to work with! I sent five-pound bags of frozen kelp to all my friends who are chefs and food scientists and asked them to play with it.
“Many of my friends came up with cool creations like kelp sodas, teas, soups, chips, and crackers. But it was my co-founder Will Horowitz who created Kelp Jerky, Kelp burgers, and Kelp sausages that really blew me away!”
We assume it’s going to be a bit difficult to sway people away from their beloved beef jerky. How do you plan on changing consumer mindsets and getting them to try a plant-based jerky?
“We’re not here to tell consumers they are doing something wrong by eating beef jerky. We’re here to give plant-based protein eaters an amazing and one of its kind snack alternative.
“And if you’re an aware enough eater that you know eating beef every day isn’t good for you or for the planet, then we welcome you to try Kelp Jerky and love it. We’re here to make food people love, not to judge.”
What is the key to the success of the brand?
“We’re not successful yet! But I think we will be because people are sick and tired of being lied to by food companies. We’re destroying our bodies and our planet. And consumers aren’t going to stand for it much longer. They want to get behind brands building a better path forward.
“We’re here to make delicious food that’s healthy for you and the planet. We’re here to inspire people to care about the food they eat – how nourishing it is for their bodies, where it comes from, who made it, and what its effect on the planet is.
“To launch, we’re building a new brand – AKUA – which will stand for the protection of the ocean.”
Where do you see Beyond the Shoreline in five years?
“AKUA will be a household brand for seaweed-based food products – makers of Kelp Jerky, Kelp Burgers, Kelp Sausages and more. Our network of ocean farms will decorate the shorelines of countries around the world.
“And finally, we envision AKUA will be a brand embraced by those who seek to live healthier, more active lives, and care about the planet.”