“Upcycling” is a fundamental concept that comes in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and has ‘broadly defined as “the reuse of rejected material that leads to an increase in the value of that material’ (Peschel & Witzel, 2020). Researchers have defined the term upcycling as “such an increase in biological or technical nutrients of a product that result in an increase in its value (Braungart et al., 2007). Upcycled is not limited to everyday items like water bottles, but including food. Food waste that is rescued from ending up in landfills is often upcycled into brand new products. In this article, you will find 10 amazing upcycled food brands and why we need to support these upcycled food brands and the industry.
Learn more about Food Waste and Upcycled Food
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about 30% or 1.3 billion tons of the total food produced for human consumption ends up being waste and lost throughout the food supply chain (FSC) every year (FAO, 2011). In view of this massive burden on the climate as well as natural resources the concept of “Food upcycling” has caught popular attention in recent years. It can be simply defined as “the new kind of food that has the potential to provide an effective solution to the Food lost and food waste (FLW) problem and will result in an increased food and resource security for the present generation as well as those to come.” Food loss does not solely result in the loss of food commodities (such as vegetables and fruits) directly but also leads to the indirect loss of natural resources such as land, water, fertilizers, chemicals, energy, and human resources in form of labor.
Why Upcycle Food
Upcycling of food is a vital part of the sustainable consumption practices that include using and reusing food in a manner that reflects an ethical and efficient consumption of food resources throughout the food supply chain (FSC). The food ingredients and by-products that would have otherwise been deemed unfit or unnecessary for human consumption are used instead. The food that is lost at the manufacturing all the way to the consumption stage is termed as by-products. Keeping in view the large amounts of animal-based as well as food and vegetable components that are lost and wasted globally, is an eye-opener and calls for immediate efforts to cause an increase in their value. Even a small value introduction can lay a foundation of circular bio-economies, better resource consumption, sustainable utilization of food, integration in the food supply chain, and reduced environmental impacts of food loss and waste (FLW). Now that we understand upcycle food, let’s take a look at why we need to support upcycle food brands.
Why do we need to upcycle food brands?
Wasting food is an ethically and morally wrong practice in all religions of the world. Food production takes a long and complicated process that at every stage requires resource consumption. Therefore, the food that is left to end up in landfills or is wasted when it could have been used becomes an additional burden on the natural resources, endangering the sustainability of the ecosystem. In order to lessen your individual carbon footprint and fulfill your ethical duty food upcycling is an efficient waste-reduction effort. Valorizing (adding value to) food by adopting sustainable management of food materials, re-using food, and taking up a circular approach will lead to bonus advantages for the economy (Secondi et al., 2016).
Food integrity and security in the food supply chain (FSC), and removal of plenty of inefficiencies and faults within the production, distribution, retail, and consumer stages of the food supply chain (FSC) is possible when we realize how vital rescuing, attaining, reusing and upcycling food is. It can be used to feed the hungry and can also be composted leading to added long-term benefits. In fact, the upcycled food industry is on the rise, we will be seeing more upcycled food brands in the future, which is amazing!
Upcycled Food Brands
Image Sourced from The Ugly Company’s Official Website
The following upcycled food brands have proved that waste reduction is possible while keeping taste and quality intact, all you need to be is smart:
- Regrained – As the name tells, Regrained makes use of leftover spent grain from brewing beer that is upcycled into nutritious flour called ‘Super Grains’ (Flour and that too with added nutrition? Yes, please!)
- Planetarians – Planetarians puff up the dry, woody leftovers during the oil extraction from sunflower seeds and are turned into chips – (chips are all the youth needs!)
- FoPo Food Powder – This upcycled food brand turns almost spoiled fruits and vegetables and turns them into fruit powders – (sweety goodness!)
- The Ugly Company – This upcycled food brand, The Ugly Company, turns ugly, discard-worthy fruits into pretty dried and diced fruit packets. Truly saving the amount of food waste! Good job, upcycled food brands! – (Not ugly, AT ALL!)
- Candid – Candid turns pineapple, coconut and other organic ingredients into cacao bites – (Candid and delish! yummm!)
- Repurposed pod – makes cacao juice from the juice left in the chocolate-making process (all that involves choco, is a BIG YES!) Check out their Instagram account.
- Wize Monkey – Wize Monkey uses the often neglected leaves of the Arabica coffee plant into making tea powder (Wise monkey for sure).
- Aqua Botanical – Aqua Botanical extracts the water wasted during juice making, purifies it, minerals it, and supplies it (no water needs to be wasted, not a DROP!)
- RISE – This upcycled food brand upcycles spent grain by mixing it with regular flour. The upcycled product is called super flour and is more nutritious. The methodology could be replicated for fruit peels and other edible products that could go to waste (super diet!)
- Sweet Benin – Sweet Benin makes cashew apple juice out of leftover cashew apples and the company focuses on empowering women (Heavenly combination!).
Need More Upcycled Food Brands!
Image Sourced from Wize Monkey’s Official Website
Upcycling and value addition in FSC is inevitable for balancing the sustainability and doing collective efforts for sustainable development, consumer’s advantage, and economic viability. Consumers nowadays have developed an increased appetite for methods that involve sustainable thoughts behind them, similarly, the investors are getting more and more interested in food upcycling and usage of food that is frittered away. This food when at the last stage ends up in the landfills causes a number of issues such as the release of methane gas that result in the augmentation of the greenhouse effect, harming the environment, and jeopardizing our own survival.
Upcycled food is an efficient, easy-to-practice, and beneficial practice that would lead to resource efficiency and social as well as environmental gains, for all of us. However, the attitude and purchase trends of the consumers towards these food items are an important matter to think over. The purchase intention of the common man can be positively transitioned by using innovative approaches for waste-to-value food can be used (Yang et al., 2021).
Upcycled food is a culinary solution to food waste.
(Spratt et al., 2020).
Curious to know more about Upcycled Food Waste in general? Or the effects of food waste? We have plenty of article about upcycled food waste and how important it is to have more upcycled food brands.
Braungart, M., McDonough, W., & Bollinger, A. (2007). Cradle-to-cradle design: creating healthy emissions–a strategy for eco-effective product and system design. Journal of cleaner production, 15(13-14), 1337-1348.
FAO, G. (2011). Global food losses and food waste–Extent, causes and prevention. SAVE FOOD: An Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction.Peschel, A. O., & Aschemann-Witzel, J. (2020). Sell more for less or less for more? The role of transparency in consumer response to upcycled food products. Journal of Cleaner Production, 273, 122884.
Secondi, L., Principato, L., Ruini, L., & Guidi, M. (2019). Reusing food waste in food manufacturing companies: the case of the tomato-sauce supply Chain. Sustainability, 11(7), 2154.
Spratt, O., Suri, R., & Deutsch, J. (2020). Defining Upcycled Food Products. Journal of Culinary Science & Technology, 1-12.
Yang, X., Huang, Y., Cai, X., Song, Y., Jiang, H., Chen, Q., & Chen, Q. (2021). Using Imagination to Overcome Fear: How Mental Simulation Nudges Consumers’ Purchase Intentions for Upcycled Food. Sustainability, 13(3), 1130.