Us, too. That's why we created Occo: a way to use molecularly fresher spice every time you cook.
Little known fact: spices go bad. Oxygen, light, and heat cause the essential oils in spice to oxidize and evaporate. For spices, essential oils are the DNA of flavor. Without it, the spice loses its color, scent, and taste.
And when exposed to humidity (like in a warm kitchen) spices are susceptible to mold growth. This can produce mycotoxins and lead to food-borne illnesses.
But worst of all? Old spices wreak havoc on perfectly delectable dishes. Though most spice brands will tell you your spices are good for years, the flavor experts agree that fresh ground spice (between 3-6 months old) is vital for delicious, flavorful food.
But for real: does it even taste different? We investigated in the video below
Our design uses modified atmosphere technology to seal in freshness at the molecular level. Here's how it works: Occo spices are pre-portioned in separate chambers containing 1/4 teaspoon of spice. Each chamber is flushed with what's known as a "blanket" of food-safe Argon gas and immediately sealed. Because Argon gas is denser than air, it sinks down and displaces the oxygen in and around the spice. Argon gas inherently inhibits enzymes that increase the rate of oxidation. Without oxygen, decay - thus, flavor loss - is impossible and bacteria starves and dies.
Today, as many of us eat out more frequently or cook for just one or two, the big spice containers we see in the grocery don’t really make sense. But there’s corporate logic behind those super-size packages. We call it the Movie Soda Mark-Up.
In a nutshell: for many of us, a big container of spice holds far more than can be reasonably used within the window of freshness (3-6 months). Big brands do this because it allows them to sell more product, even if that means the end user (you!) winds up throwing away the majority of that product or using it to lackluster results. We did the math: while large jars offer cheaper spice by volume, a user will need to cook with that spice just about every day to reap the entire fresh value.
And to be perfectly clear, if you do plan to make that chicken recipe 200 times over 3-6 months, you should stick with a big jar. But if you’re not, Occo is by far a better bang for your buck.
Occo is made of aluminum, the most recycled and recyclable material on the planet. 75% of all the aluminum ever produced is still in use today. When an aluminum food or beverage product is recycled it can get back on the shelves as a new product in as few as 60 days while saving 90% of the energy associated with mining virgin aluminum.
Furthermore, Occo takes on the environmental impact of food waste directly.
40% of the food sold in the U.S. is ultimately wasted, and the broad impact adds up fast. Because Occo allows you to buy just what you need and use it all, it will reduce CO2 emissions and conserve water and land associated with growing and transporting spice that ends up in the trash.
The Essential Collection is stocked with 12 foundational spices that complete and complement any kitchen. The 12 spices were selected based on frequency of use and flavor diversity. When you finish a card and want another? Within the next year you'll be able to repurchase individual cards on our website, at a special club rate.
We're also offering four different Mini Collections that contain three cards each from the Essential Collection.
For those who want to elevate the basics or cook very infrequently, we made the 101 Collection. This additional Mini Collection rounds out the Essential Collection or simply adds amazingly fresh flavor to your everyday cooking.
Our spices come from a network of organic, ethical suppliers around the world who can deliver recently-harvested product.
We traveled the globe to find the freshest, most flavorful spices in the world. In the process we developed relationships with premium growers and sellers, all the way down to the farmer level. If we can’t guarantee a spice was organically grown and harvested within the past year, we won't sell it.
We're ready to go! With your support, we'll follow the tentative timeline below to get Occo to you by June 2019.
We've been working for years to bring Occo to life, and we're thrilled and grateful you've taken the time to consider our idea. Thank you for checking us out, and we hope you'll join us on the journey to more flavorful, affordable, and sustainable spice!
Meet the Spice Girls
Lisa dreamed Occo in 2013 after grocery shopping for a Pinterest recipe she wanted to try. She loved experimenting with new dishes, but was frustrated that jars of spice were so big and expensive. Lisa spent the next six years working in digital marketing and product design, but never lost sight of the dream to make buying just a pinch of spice more accessible, affordable, and sustainable. She began development on the project in earnest in 2016, and went full time on Occo in 2018. Launching Occo on Kickstarter is the conclusion of a long road, and the beginning of an even longer one!
You can find Lisa on Instagram here.
Connie has always wanted to be a fantastic chef and host delicious dinner party feasts. But alas, her small New York City studio kitchen, and collection of cookbooks full of 15+ ingredient recipes, wasn't exactly conducive to her culinary aspirations. When Lisa pitched her an idea for fresh, single-serving spice, Connie immediately envisioned her dinner party goals falling into place and joined Occo in Spring '17. Connie brings operational expertise to Occo from a 9-year career in marketing communications, where she managed financials and resources, built and mentored teams, developed planning and QA processes, and more. She's pumped to bring Occo to the world and looking forward to someday having her first dinner party.
You can find Connie on Instagram here, but it's private because she's a paranoid wench.
Check out our sources, research, and methodology here.
Media? Check out our press kit here.
Risks and challenges
We’re realistic that there’s a decent amount we may not be able to forecast for. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t done a significant amount of homework. Based on our research and industry backgrounds, we’ve determined the following risks to Occo’s success:
Availability of raw materials – The spice business is subject to the changes that are impacting food businesses around the world. A changing climate and increasing demand mean that in certain years, some products are more available than others. Should the spices in Occo’s Kit 1 become challenging, if impossible to source, we’ll have to adapt.
Importing of raw materials – Importing product from all over the world means that the end deliverable is subject to a variety of different legal and regulatory hoops. We anticipate being able to work with our wholesalers to smooth out the vast majority of importing challenges, but should unforeseen external factors come into play, we may face road blocks.
Supply chain integrity – When we say we won’t sell a product that doesn’t meet our quality standards, we mean it. We’re working with multiple spice vendors who have taken years to establish deep working relationships with localized farming communities. Our vendors have gone to the distance to help local farmers get deep insight into the value of their product and ensure that it remains the highest quality. Should we face supply chain integrity challenges, like say adulterated product, we’ll be open and transparent with you about delays and source an alternative.
Machine tooling complexities – We're working with experts in machine design and tooling to develop automated systems that make forming, filling and sealing Occo cards possible and affordable. If we discover hidden complexities in thermoforming RPET, fine grain powder filling or seal integrity, we may experience delays in getting the product to you. We'll be straightforward and let you know if this happens.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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