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The Rise of Upcycled Food Product - 5 Food Innovations!

Turning Waste into Taste: The Rise of Upcycled Food Product


Welcome to this week’s edition of GRATE, where we spotlight the latest trends and breakthroughs in the food and beverage industry. This week, we delve into the fascinating world of upcycled products, a rapidly growing segment that’s capturing the attention of consumers and businesses alike. Upcycled foods are made with ingredients that would not have otherwise been consumed by humans, these foods might have gone to landfills, anaerobic digesters or incinerators, or been converted into animal feed.


According to a 2023 Innova Market Research study, 43% of consumers now find upcycled products more appealing than other options, up from 35% the previous year. This trend aligns with a broader consumer movement towards sustainability. 


These insights highlight the significant sustainability impact that upcycled ingredients can provide, often more effectively reducing carbon footprints than sustainable packaging alone. This is good food for thought for anyone in the industry looking to make meaningful environmental strides.


We take a closer look at five innovative brands that have placed upcycling at the core of their mission. These brands are not just creating delicious products but are also making a positive impact on the environment by repurposing ingredients that would otherwise go to waste. Read on to discover their stories and be inspired by their commitment to sustainability.


What are you doing in your food business to embrace upcycling?

Join the conversation and share your strategies for a

more sustainable future.


Annie x


TRASHY - CRISPS FROM PULP, US


Trashy is a new American brand, who use the misfit veggies that were juiced and beat to a pulp to make their range of flavourful crisps (or chips as they are known in their home country), packed with nutrients and flavour. These veggie chips are crafted from upcycled pulp - the leftover fibrous material from making juices and smoothies. The pulp undergoes minimal processing to be dried and seasoned, ensuring the finished pulp pantry chips retain the natural flavours and nutrients inherent to the leftover ingredient. This results in chips with no artificial additives or preservatives, made using environmentally sound practices. By snacking on Trashy Chips, one will liberate a quarter pound of misfit veggies that were juiced and beat to a pulp, and carrot peels that were brutally shaved from curvy carrots to make those teeny tiny, perfect baby carrots. "Swap up your snacks" is their catchy strap line.



I AM GROUNDED, AUSTRALIA


I Am Grounded are a disruptive health and wellness social enterprise based in Australia. Founded by Lachlan Powell and Vanessa Murillo, they are on a mission to create systemic change in coffee by adding value to the fruit. From the time coffee is harvested to when it is consumed, research published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology shows that over 95 percent of the plant’s biomass is wasted. This is because there is demand for the seeds, but not the surrounding fruit or other parts of the plant. I Am Grounded has turned coffee fruit into energy bars since 2019, saving over 15,000 kilograms of fruit, or the equivalent weight of about 2.5 African elephants. The company also works with workers along the coffee supply chain to empower them to commercialize coffee by-products.



THE UPCYCLED FOOD SERIES, US


To celebrate Earth Month, Salt & Straw launched one of their most renowned and innovative menus of the year to highlight creative and delicious solutions to help rescue wasted food: The Upcycled Food Series. With 229 million tons of food going unsold or uneaten each year in the US, they've been able to rescue over 45,000 pounds since they first launched this series to use in the creation of these special flavours. To help craft this menu, they very cleverly partnered with five thoughtful brands that are dedicated to reducing food waste in the US. Each ice cream flavour uses ground-breaking recipe development tactics and tells a unique story about different ways brands and people alike can rescue wasted food. Each flavor is officially Upcycled Certified®, awarded by the Upcycled Food Association (UFA). A great initiative and one I think we could see alot more of in Ireland and the UK.



GREENBOWL, US


When two food scientists in the US became overwhelmed by the amount of nutritious food going to waste, they created Green Bowl. The company makes ready-to-eat, shelf stable, and preservative free plant-based meals with a mix of fresh and upcycled ingredients. Their complete rice, quinoa and lentil bowls include ingredients like brewer’s spent grains, fruit and vegetable pulp from juice factories, and cereal residue from plant-based milk factories for added nutrition and flavor. They collaborate with local partners, such as juice factories and breweries, to source high-quality byproducts like carrot and spinach pulp, quinoa, and brewer’s spent grain. These partnerships not only prevent valuable ingredients from ending up in landfills but also contribute to a circular economy. They're truly committed to redefining food’s legacy by upcycling overlooked ingredients and reducing their environmental impact.



ROOTLY, DENMARK


Rootly produces plant-based meat products like falafel and steak using surplus beet, carrot, and mushrooms and excess pulp from juice production. Along with these products, the company sells flavored carrot snacks from carrot parts that do not fit traditional standards. Rootly is owned by Jesper Holmberg, a visionary entrepreneur and creator of several remarkable food businesses and concepts in Denmark. Through the collaboration with Simple Feast, he helped drive the development of a wider food culture within Convenience Food, where sustainability became a central element. This approach was not only a "game changer" in terms of quality and price, but also a manifestation of Jesper's commitment to promoting sustainability through food production.



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