Upcycling is Good For Innovation and the Planet

Sustainability and elimination of waste are major topics in the food industry, as both consumers and producers strive to improve their footprint. In both America and abroad, climate change is seen as an increasingly dire subject, with the understanding that factors like over-farming and inefficient food production play a significant role in the process.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, as much as one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. To understand this massive amount of squandered resources, this translates to 1.3 billion tons of food every year.

Several companies have stepped up to try and mitigate this problem, offering a range of innovative new products that were developed via “upcycling”. These products contain ingredients that would typically be thrown away, either because they are unattractive on their own, or because they are traditionally considered mere byproducts in the production of other foods.

For example, cacao has been a star fruit in this trend. Only 20% of the pod is harvested for chocolate, and historically, the other 80% was treated as garbage. Mondelez recently launched CaPao, a cacaofruit snack brand that has launched “smoothie balls” (cacaofruit rolled with nuts and seeds) and “fruit jerky”, a line of fruit leathers that combine cacaofruit with mango, coconut, and guava.

Repurposed Pod, which was launched in 2014, manufactures juice out of the white fruit of the cacao pod. These juices are packed with vitamins and minerals, and, according to the company, a single box of their juice contains as much potassium as a banana.

Speaking of bananas, Barnana is a company based out of Santa Monica that is making excellent use out of bananas that are usually too aesthetically imperfect for export outside of Latin America, where they are grown. Barnana buys this scuffed and overripe fruit and turns them into bite-sized snacks, chips, and brittle.

The World Resources institute reports that 56% of all food wasted in Latin America occurs prior to distribution, and that 70% of food produced in the area is exported. With so much produce left behind to rot, companies like Barnana are making important contributions to the new upcycled market.

Food companies have played an unfortunate role in climate change, and trends like upcycling will allow the industry to slow down (and, hopefully, reverse) some of the damage that has been done. By reducing waste, companies will be able to slash the amount of food that needs to be produced altogether, limiting their carbon footprint and communicating their values to consumers.

 We have called out this trend on Instagram, where we are running a new series called #TrendTuesday. Follow Works Design Group’s account for weekly insights for a variety of categories from across the grocery store.

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