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Creating a circular economy for 30K+ farms by producing beverage products via upcycled maple sap byproducts; enhancing groundwater supplies!

Asarasi's vision is to displace the bottled water industry, producing beverages from a renewable, sustainable & upcycled plant-based source.

Photo of Adam Lazar
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Asarasi, Inc.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Farmer Co-op or Farmer Business Organization

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Asarasi has contracted partnerships with 110+ maple farms in the USA and Canada to provide the needs of beverage manufacturing in plant-based waters . Asarasi continues to add to our farm partner base to ensure that we can continue to advocate on the behalf of these farms to ensure their economic viability while also adding to the world's drinkable water supply. Asarasi has formed a partnership with Anheuser-Busch the largest producer of beverages in the world to bring the 4B liters of fresh plant-based water byproducts of the Maple market to the world by replacing the use of groundwater in their beverage products with the maple water ingredient provided from these family farms through Asarasi.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

https://asarasi.com

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Katonah, New York

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United States of America

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The NY-New England Region of The United States of America covering 328K Km^2 encompassing the largest & connected Maple producing US States.

What country is your selected Place located in?

United States of America

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Asarasi has a deep relationship to the Maple Region in the USA. In 2008, Asarasi's CEO Adam Lazar, discovered during a tour of a maple farm, that 4B Liters of the maple sap that was harvested was being thrown away across the industry in the form of sugar-free maple saps called Maple Permeates. When the tree is tapped for its saps, the maple sugar is completely removed by reverse osmosis filtration, producing predominantly a crop of maple syrup (3% of the crop) and leaving behind 97% of the crop which is one of the purest forms of freshwater in the world! After realizing that Maple Permeates are a 100% pure, plant-drawn source for water and that these could be used to replace the water ingredients that many consumer packaged goods companies utilize in their own beverages and other products, and recognizing that this would in turn help prevent the wholesale destruction of the groundwater table, and furthermore that farmers would be economically advantaged as a result of leveraging this voluminous new found ingredient, Asarasi was formed!

The NY & New England, USA region is important to Asarasi as the vast majority of Maple syrup production occurs on 5,000 family farms here. Canada has tapped 85%+ of their available Maple tree supply, making Canada the largest maple producing country (60% by volume) in North America. In the USA, the available and accessible maple resource has only been 3% utilized and the production of maple in the USA (40%) is growing exponentially at 15% per year. Asarasi has chosen the USA region of the maple market to focus on due to the growth potential of the Maple market in this region, the proximity to the large consumer population in the USA vs, Canada and that we have a tremendous positive impact to the total 10,000 small family owned maple farms across the USA. Recognizing the opportunity to positively impact farmers economically and advantage the groundwater table, Asarasi has contracted with 110+ family-owned, maple farmers in this region.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The New York & New England Maple Producing Region encompasses in total, 328K Km^2 in the Northeast United States of America and is connected directly by an adjoining landmass to the Maple Producing Region of Canada. This region has a farming population of 61,143 farms and density of 5.3 farms per km^2 of which about 10% are also Maple Farms. These Maple farms produce Maple products during the late Fall and early Spring seasons and generate ~$150M USD in revenue during year from Maple products. The area is mostly rural with large concentrations of a diverse populations in cities such as New York City or Boston. With a population of 35.25M people, 25M people live in farm dense rural areas. Due to its large geography, Asarasi is centered in the region in Connecticut State. The area is old with over 400+ years of US Colonial history, & the United States of America was founded in New England. As a result, multi-generational farms dot the landscape everywhere. Maple trees in this region are abundant and are commonly tapped to produce a sugar rich sap which is then processed to produce Maple Syrup. It is a common sight to witness every year in the Spring, Maple Fairs and Festivals dedicated to the harvest of the sweet, sugary, Maple crop. 5,000 Maple farms conduct open houses across the region to showcase the history, harvest, production and sale of Maple. It is a region with 4 distinct seasons, famous for its Fall foliage and located in the northeast United States stretching East from the border of New York across to the tip of Maine and from the border of Pennsylvania to the border of Canada. Maple Syrup is highly concentrated in Vermont with 50% of the USA made crop being produced in the State of Vermont alone every year. The farmer in the United States regardless of region is struggling to survive. The region is losing an estimated 1,000+ farms per year and over 5,000 farms failed in the region from 2012 to 2017 combined. As such the rural areas throughout New York State and New England tend to be very poor with little economic opportunity outside of the city centers. The various state governments have provided some stimulus to the areas with beautification grants which are helping some towns and small cities to encourage new population growth. However, a significant amount of the US Agriculture is produced in this region. Most of these farms are family owned and operated and are not “factory farms” but rather multi-generational farmers who work the land, and maple is just one of the many crops most maple farmers actually produce. Asarasi represents 110+ family maple farmers in the region and as such has a direct and significant connection to the maple community in the region and this specific place.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

328000

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

34250000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

ENVIRONMENT: In 2015, satellite data revealed that due to human consumption, 21 of the world’s 37 large aquifers are severely water-stressed and population growth will assure that the situation will worsen. Consumer concerns regarding access, source, safety, quality and environmental impacts of water are growing as well. This has opened new opportunities in sustainable and socially responsible water production by converting an existing agricultural byproduct of the maple market and repurposing it for emerging consumer markets.

DIETS: The consumer will continue to define and refine their needs relative to healthy consumption. With Asarasi’s vision leading the way with the first USDA certified organic water from a unique and renewable source, we are creating a new market that benefits the consumer, the farmer, and the environment. It is our hope and mission to encourage other new and novel foundations for conservation and sustainability such as has been created by Asarasi. Many packaged water products in the marketplace have forever elements and chemicals attributed to them such as Uranium & Radium 226 among many others that consumers are concerned about digesting. Unlike all other sources of water, Asarasi has been tested to be one of the purest forms of fresh water in the world and proven to have only 4 naturally occurring elements, H2O, Manganese, Potassium and Chlorides (Electrolytes). As both a bottled water company and an emerging ingredient company, Asarasi can augment the geologically-sourced water utilized in food and beverage products providing consumers with greater transparency on the label, and enhanced confidence in the organically-sourced ingredients contained in the products they consume.

POLICY: Under current USDA regulation, water is exempt from being certified organic as it comes from a geologic source. This has resulted in thousands of food and beverage products, some with geologically-sourced water concentrations as high as 99% (by ingredient volume), to achieve a USDA Organic certification, disadvantaging and misleading consumers. Simply eliminating the exemptions would be contributing to a positive environmental impact to our groundwater supply while simultaneously providing greater economic opportunity to 10,000+ US farmers; thereby helping further secure the future integrity of our domestic food supply.

ECONOMICS: Maple farmers will generate 100% greater net profit yield on their existing maple products, with little extra labor! The avg. farm in the Asarasi supply chain, at scale will earn an extra ~$100K / year each! This incentive to sell their entire crop into an already well established $250B bottled water market as a plant-based source water helps the farm with an immediate source of revenue. Asarasi currently represents 400M Liters under long term contracts, and is able to create a $1B market for these 100 farms. Extrapolating across the industry, we’ve created a $20B market opportunity for maple farms in the region!

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

ENVIRONMENT: Asarasi currently contracts with 100+ maple farmers to reclaim a fraction of the available 100M+ gallons of pure, plant-based tree waters. Asarasi established a first of its kind Benefit Corp with these farms to access ~100M gallons (of the 1B gallons available) of pure plant-based water. Our vision is to redeploy 100% of this otherwise wasted sugar-free maple sap byproduct generated in the manufacture of maple products within the food and beverage industry. Increasing the scale and awareness of plant-based waters as a sustainable, renewable and environmentally responsible alternative to existing water sourcing practices is critical to ensuring the viability of hundreds of family farms and, ultimately, the health of individuals in the United States. Asarasi’s vision is to significantly reduce the severe stress on our ground water supply brought on by increased consumption, contamination and drought while also enhancing the integrity of the food supply with the first USDA-certified organic source for fresh water.

DIETS: The mega health and wellness trend of plant-based foods are here to stay and with the introduction of plant-based diary to plant-based meats, these products have taken over the world by storm and are now consumed en masse. This focus of global consumers on plant-based diets lends credibility to Asarasi. By taking the source for fresh water off of the ground water system and recapturing the water that is consumed by plants first, Asarasi is effectively upcycling the plants water use and offsetting the consumer and industry's water footprint 1:1! Consumers love Asarasi for its unique source, its purity of source and its overall sustainability and farmer circular economy impacts.

POLICY: Asarasi is advocating for change with the USDA for a change to the USDA Organic Ingredient List which is updated two times per year with opportunity for public comment. Asarasi recognizes that the current Organic Regulation currently exempts the use of water as an ingredient from all food and beverage products when considering their organic ingredient claims. As a result, 10,000 USA based farms and 11,500 Canadian based farms are disadvantaged by this exemption, the very population of people (farmers) that this very large agency was established to help protect!

Economy: By advocating for policy change above at the USDA level via policymakers at the highest levels of government, those products currently claiming organic certification will need to reformulate to using a plant-based source creating a tremendous jumpstart to the maple farming economy. With a large biomass of 30 different species of trees around the world that can be tapped for their aqueous saps a new food and water system can be further shared and accelerated with the rest of the world!

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

THE PROBLEM: 100,000 farms went bankrupt in the USA alone between 2011 and 2018 and the scale of the problem continues to worsen. In 2019 farm bankruptcies were up 24% from 2018 and alarmingly even the largest dairy producers like Dean Foods are also declaring bankruptcy. US Farms contributed $138B to US GDP in 2018 and at scale, Asarasi’s vision creates a $20B value-added crop to thousands of existing and new family farmers by taking this currently wasted byproduct to market while simultaneously encouraging unprofitable farming activities to be replaced with more profitable activities such as maple. Asarasi helps farmers double net profits on existing crops while simultaneously encouraging new farmers to enter the field as a result of the added value created based on the access to a perceivably unlimited US based maple resource.

OUR VISION: Our vision, fully deployed, creates an authentic circular economy that pumps over a billion gallons of fresh water today while simultaneously advantaging an incredibly broad spectrum of beneficiaries and potentially replacing the entire bottled water market tomorrow with plant-based options indistinguishable by taste, nutrition profile and or ingredient content ensuring the survivability of not just our farmers but also our groundwater supply. Adding this level of prosperity to regions that have historically underperformed in growing both employment and wealth creation benefits both individuals and economic development. Asarasi’s vision includes investing back into the farms to develop infrastructure in the form of manufacturing capabilities at the source. Our commitment to the farmer will continue to define our vision while we simultaneously and positively impact the environment, advantage both farmers and consumer and deliver a vital resource in a manner that can be effectively replicated throughout the world.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Water is the most critical resource to sustain life. Unfortunately, less than 1% is fresh for human consumption during a period when consumption of water for both personal and agricultural use is growing exponentially. The geologically-sourced water supply in many areas of the US (and around the world) is compromised by both persistent drought and environmental contamination. Asarasi’s vision is to augment geologically-sourced water and create a truly authentic circular economy by reclaiming and redeploying more than 1B gallons of otherwise wasted sugar-free maple sap byproduct as organically-sourced, plant-based water.

Currently, Asarasi redeploys otherwise wasted, sugar-free maple sap byproducts (permeates) and brings it to market under the Asarasi brand providing consumers with a 100% plant-based, USDA organic certified bottled water at value parity to other products in the market. Due to our responsible sourcing practices, Asarasi does not further deplete the already drought-stressed and increasingly contaminated groundwater used in virtually every other food and beverage product on the planet today. Given the inherent conflict created by increased consumption and growing scarcity the critical need will only grow over time.

Additionally, Asarasi’s vision recognizes that US farmers are struggling to survive. Evidence of this is that the rate of suicide for farmers is nearly double the rate for combat veterans. As a veteran-owned and operated company this is a statistic that demands a solution. Maple farmers are primarily full-time farmers who also grow everything from corn and vegetables to pork, beef, chicken year-round. Many of these farm products are subsidized by the US government via the Farm Bill, and prices on these goods are at their lowest levels in 12 years. Asarasi establishes relationships with farmers to create an entirely new revenue stream selling their pure, plant-based water helping to sustain these mostly family-owned operations, potentially into perpetuity. 

Finally, under existing USDA regulation, water is exempt from organic certification. The result is thousands upon thousands of food and beverage products that have geologically-sourced water as high as 99% by ingredient volume achieving a USDA organic certification, thereby disadvantaging and misleading consumers. With a recognized viable and sustainable alternative source in the market, it appears as though it is only a matter of time, energy and advocacy before the exemption is challenged. Regardless of whether the exemption is voided, heightened awareness among consumers who demonstrate a clear preference toward organically- and responsibly-sourced food and beverage products will provide a level of advocacy needed to fully leverage the potential to augment, if not fully replace, geologically-sourced water as an ingredient in USDA certified organic food products.

Strategic relationships and increased scale will increase awareness of, and advocacy for, the critical need for plant-based water sourcing to assure the viability of hundreds of US family farms, augment the drought-stressed and increasingly contaminated geologically-sourced water supply and enhance the integrity of food and beverage products with the only USDA-certified organic source for water.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email
  • Uncharted.Org & The Chipotle Aluminaries Project.

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Spam
Photo of Usama Turajo
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Hello dear.
I will like to inform you that the deadline of submission is on (31st January, 2020) try and published if you haven't done that.
Regards: Usama Turajo

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