- Launches of food and beverages containing upcycled ingredients saw a 122% compound annual growth rate in the five years ending third-quarter 2021, according to a report from Innova Market Insights. This figure was higher than products using recycled plastic in packaging (59%) and those carrying carbon-emissions claims (47%).
- Nearly half of consumers surveyed by Innova said they are actively trying to cut food waste. The market research group also found that 62% of consumers are willing to pay more for food and beverage products that are dedicated to stopping food waste.
- Consumers’ growing concerns around addressing food waste have supported a wave of new products, ingredients and innovation in the food and beverage industry.
According to USDA estimates, up to 40% of the U.S. food supply is wasted each year. The food industry has responded not only by making its own commitments to reduce food waste, but also using the issue as a driver of product development and innovation.
The Upcycled Food Association adopted its certification standard in 2021 to create a framework for upcycled ingredients and products. The standard requires products to contain at least 10% upcycled ingredients, while upcycled certified ingredients must contain at least 95% food originally produced for human consumption. Currently, food products from at least 25 brands have received the Upcycled Certified label.
In late 2021, Del Monte Foods launched what it said was the industry’s first canned vegetable products to be certified by the Upcycled Food Association: two canned green beans using 100% upcycled and sustainably grown green beans. And this year, it debuted two Fruit Infusions cups, Gut Love and Boost Me, which use juice from pineapple used in these and other products. The company said the products will redirect nearly 130,000 pounds of pineapple juice per year.
Baked goods have also become an avenue for repurposing food that would have otherwise been discarded. ReGrained, a brand that uses a thermo-mechanical process to reformulate spent brewer’s grain into a flour, received Upcycled Food certification for its flour in 2021. This year, it debuted a line of baking mixes that use the flour, including banana bread, brownie, carrot cake and pizza dough offerings.
And Do Good Foods collects unused food from grocery stores or food banks and turns it into animal feed for chickens that it then sells for human consumption. It launched its first product, Do Good Chicken, at select Philadelphia retailers this year. The company said each poultry product prevents four pounds of food waste from being sent to a landfill, avoiding the generation of three pounds of greenhouse gases.