Brahimsha worked with the co-founders of Farilife milk, Mike and Sue McCloskey, to launch the Prommus brand in 2018 (the idea for the brand was conceived in 2014).
While the hummus space is still dominated by Sabra, which accounts for roughly 60% of the market, the PepsiCo-owned brand has helped familiarize the average American consumer with the savory chickpea paste.
According to Brahimsha, ten years ago household penetration of hummus was in the single digits, now over half of American consumers have been at least exposed to the product.
“Companies like Sabra teaming up PepsiCo to introduce America to what this brown paste was, really educated the American consumer,” Brahimsha said.
“We believe that because the American consumer is now comfortable with hummus they’re venturing out to different brands.”
Because of its protein positioning, Brahimsha said Prommus aims to be the “Halo Top, Fairlife, or Chobani of hummus.”
His NGO work led him to travel to southern Turkey on humanitarian missions; working to establish schools and education programs for young displaced Syrians. Brahimsha has worked for multiple NGOs including the Clinton Global Initiative and UNICEF Children’s Fund after returning to the US from war-torn Syria.
Working on the Turkish, Syrian border, Brahimsha was exposed to a lot of children suffering from malnutrition, which is why 1% of Prommus sales go towards the World Food Program.
"As entrepreneurs in general, we have a massive responsibility to pass along all of our success to wider humanity," said Brahimsha.
Protein and clean-label positioning
Brahimsha who is Syrian by descent and spent a lot of time in the country before the Syrian war broke out, uses a recipe that was passed down from his grandmother to create the brand’s four flavors: traditional, avocado, red pepper, and Kalamata olive.
While the flavors may seem relatively tame, it’s the incorporation of a whey protein isolate supplied by New Zealand dairy ingredients company Fonterra that gives the brand’s product twice the amount of protein compared to competitors.
“There’s a lot of disruption in [the market in] the sense of taste, with no disruption in the sense of functionality,” he said.
Prommus hummus products also fit into consumers’ definition of clean label by using HPP (high pressure processing), enabling him to avoid the typical preservatives and additives found in many other brands.
"Hummus has a notion of being healthy, but then you look deeper into the ingredients and see that it’s full of preservatives and high fat oils."
However, there hasn’t been a lot of development of the use of HPP on dairy ingredients, which is why the Prommus brand currently has two patents pending – one having to do with processing.
“Until our product, there hasn’t been much research done with whey protein isolate or added protein in general with HPP,” Brahimsha said.
“Not only does our patent cover the processing with dairy-based protein, but also plant-based, and other animal based [proteins].”
Brahimsha added the company is exploring creating a vegan hummus product line further down the line.
Path to growth
Prommus was recently selected out of 1,700 applicants as a finalist for the WeWork Creator Awards and will be pitching its business to an industry audience in Nashville, Tennessee, next month. Should it be selected as the winner, Prommus could secure up to $360,000 worth of funding.
Brahimsha added that right now the brand is focused on growing its Midwest 500-store foot print by continually adding large conventional banners within the region.