Carbonating beef broth for fun and profit
10.22, Wednesday 7 Dec 2022 Link to this post
Hear me out: fizzy gravy.
I can’t remember exactly how this came up but it was at Alex‘s party so blame her.
I recently encountered sparkling tea. Not a thing I’d run into before. The main brand is Copenhagen Sparkling Tea developed in a Michelin star restaurant. Fortnum’s has its own brand which is apparently pretty good.
Which prompted the question: what other savoury consumables can be similarly sparkled?
Carbonated beef gravy.
You’d package it like aerosol squirty cream, somebody said. Squirt it from the can onto your roast potatoes and it would stick where you put it. Handy!
So the actual fun with this game is not thinking of foods to fizz but to come up with how you’d market them.
I think you could make a play for fizzy gravy being a kind of democratic sauce. Like, foams and molecular gastronomy are available only in fancy restaurants for the 1%, but this is gravy passed through a SodaStream so pretty much anyone can do it at home.
Or maybe you could use a milk frother like the ones you get with coffee machines. A velvety meaty microfoam.
A more compelling angle might be health?
For example: Halo Top ice cream. Wildly popular in 2018 (and sold to Wells in 2019). Slogan: eat the whole tub. This is because it’s low calorie.
Halo Top is low calorie partly because uses sweeteners, not sugar, but partly because of a clever hack on food marketing. Ice cream in the US is sold by volume not weight. So a pint is a pint, but:
A pint of vanilla Halo Top weighs 256 grams, while a pint of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla weighs 428 grams. (Source.) It’s incredibly aerated.
Which is a neat comparable. Aerated ice cream used to be the cheap own-brand stuff. With Halo Top it’s healthy.
Squirty gravy in a can could be doubly healthy because you don’t need as much (precision squirting means you put it only where it’s needed, instead of your food swimming in it) and also because it’s aerated so you consume less actual gravy per mouthful.
I bet you could market a premium-yet-democratised, indulgent-yet-healthy gravy foam in a can.
In terms of influencer marketing you’d start by going after top-end restaurants and street food simultaneously. Street food because it’s highly grammable and also experimental: gravy microfoam offers the opportunity to use umami-heavy meat broth as a ketchup or mayo-like condiment in wraps and burgers, and that’s a new taste.
A few years back, I did a little work with an FMCG startup incubator. FMCG = fast-moving consumer goods, which covers multiple segments, and these folks specialised in branding and packaging new foods and snacks.
FMCG founders differ from tech starter founders, I learnt. They tend to be older, apparently, and they usually have incredibly good personal connections into distribution. They know where to launch and how to scale.
Plus what they have is good connections to factories. Some factory somewhere will develop a new process like, say, how to economically produce extremely puffed biltong. Then the founder will the first to see that, know there’s a trend in on-the-move protein snacks for gen z, put the two together and run with it.
The rest is branding. Then the company sells a few years later to Unilever for 9 figures or whatever.
An alternative to the health angle is flavour?
Carbonation will make the meat gravy slightly acidic so you’ll get a little pop from that. Then the cavitation from the bubbles is going to add a unique mouth-feel.
RELATED, on the food and technology front: Pepsico invented a new shape of salt crystal for reduced sodium and extra flavour.
I’d be sceptical about the level of novelty except for a drink from the 1950s called Beef Fizz.
- Ginger ale: 1 cup
- Lemon juice: 2 tablespoons
- Canned condensed beef broth: 1 pint
Shockingly, Beef Fizz wasn’t as bad as we expected. It was worse. Much, much worse.
Look that’s not promising I admit but putting it another way, the bar is low.
So if you have a milk frother then please do try aerating your turkey gravy this Christmas and, if family feedback is good, we’ll take it to the supermarkets and go halfsies.