My name is Justin Hwa and I'm the creator of Soup Pop.
The story of Soup Pop begins with food waste. As shoppers, we like to judge quality based on appearance. When we shop at the grocery store, a better looking produce is often just beside one with a minor blemish. As newer produce are continuously stocked, these slightly imperfect vegetables begin to age and fall out of our favor. This is one way good food becomes part of the 40% of food we throw away every year.
As a chef and environmental engineer, I was inspired to develop a food product that gives new life to ugly vegetables destined for the landfill.
In college, I became an avid cook. I even saved up enough to buy my first real knife set, which I still use today. Sunday afternoons became my time to experiment with ingredients, techniques I saw on TV, and dishes I daydreamed of in class. In 2011, I graduated from Georgia Tech and went on to work for a major construction company. But the passion to make good food remained.
In 2014, I began testing recipes and processes that will lead to Meal Time Box. Meal Time Box was a frozen meal delivery service that, at the surface, provided busy people a better version of TV dinners. Behind the scenes, the service sought to reduce food waste by a designed production process and packaging that prolonged the quality of the meals in storage. Meal Time Box grew over time and served a diverse customer base across 23 states. It offered a homestyle option to frozen meals and a healthier alternative to convenient processed food. In 2017, another spark will come that will inspire me to take Meal Time Box's idea further.
Awareness of our country's food waste problem was becoming mainstream with a growing number of new food waste startups contributing creative solutions. There was the release of Wasted!, an Anthony Bourdain-produced documentary, on global food waste. I went to a Tribeca film showing of the movie and walked out of the theater filled with ideas of a food waste product and taking the challenge head on.
One of those ideas became Soup Pop. The first version of Soup Pop was actually based on the dry vegetable packs found in many instant ramen noodles. I created a similar version to season broths, using fresh vegetables bought from stores with small discoloration or leafy parts that have become less crisp. Despite the blemishes, the resulting broth was rich in vegetable flavor and, I must say, better than the ordinary store-bought soup bases. It was like eating real vegetables. After much tinkering, the first recipe, Soup Pop Original, went on sale in late 2017.
Today, we are continuing to grow our product lineup and the variety of vegetables we save. I invite you to try one of our soups to experience our product yourself. Every pack of Soup Pop made, purchased, and eaten is a few more produce avoiding the landfill. Join us in our mission and enjoy great food while helping our food waste mission.