Upcycling is a crucial business practice at TBJ Gourmet, a specialty food brand that makes spreadable bacon jam its claim to fame.

“I would say the majority of food companies that are doing upcycling started doing it because they were on a mission to help combat climate change or save the planet,” Michael Oraschewsky says. “For me and TBG, it started as a way to reduce costs.”

Pork belly is cut into pretty, uniform shapes when used as bacon for consumers. That leaves out the odd piece here and there – just as tasty when it’s cooked but not as appealing in looks as traditional bacon. Those pieces get used for bacon jam,

“I would argue that that pork is probably the first upcycled animal to be domesticated to eat things that we didn’t want to eat and turn it into delicious, delicious meat,” Michael says.

For TBJ Gourmet, it’s just an economic mindset but an environmentalist mindset that makes upcycling an essential part of the brand’s strategy.

“For me, it was always more than just the climate battle because I was raised not to waste food,” Michael says. “My grandparents on my dad’s side were raised in Europe during the wars in the 20th century. They were often times with very little or no food. My grandfather always told us this story about how his most memorable birthday gift was a farmer who gave him an egg that he was working for. He gave him an egg, and he shared it with his mom and his sisters. And his mom made a meringue out of the white and then got the yolk, and they enjoyed the meringue from this one egg. So we weren’t allowed to waste food.”

Michael says TBJ’s finances got through the COVID pandemic just fine. Though restaurants were closed, the brand’s CPG side performed exceptionally well. He expects sales to climb more as in-person family celebrations resume during the coming holidays.

For now, TBJ Gourmet’s product line is anchored by three bacon jams: classic, sweet chili, and black peppercorn. A reserve line includes additional flavors, including maple bacon jam, honey habanero bacon jam, and balsamic fig bacon jam. A tomato jam provides a non-meat option. Future variations are coming soon.

In Part 2, Michael talks about:

* Why the company turned to upcycling.
* The story behind his mission not to waste food.
* How the COVID pandemic affected the company.
* The importance of community and social media.
* A rundown of the brand’s products.

Join Ramon Vela and Michael Oraschewsky as they break down the inside story on The Story of a Brand.

For more on TBJ Gourmet, visit: https://tbjgourmet.com/

This episode is brought to you by Sendlane.

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