“We want a recycled product in every aisle of every grocery store”

The Upcycled Food Association (UFA) was formed about two years ago by a group of companies all with the same mission of reducing food waste by expanding the market for upcycled food products and ingredients and thereby reducing the value of 1 trillion dollars of food that is wasted. annually worldwide.

According to UFA, approximately 80% of people are interested in trying recycled products, but less than 10% know what they are, creating a clear opportunity for consumer education and awareness of this type of sustainable product. noted Wyatt.

“The organization was founded on the assumption that upcycling is a truly scalable solution to food waste as it is focused on consumer products. Finding scalable solutions to food waste is important as we only have a few years to figure them out The UN and the USDA both say we need to halve our food waste by 2030 which means there are billions of tons of food waste to know what to do over the next two years”, Wyatt told FoodNavigator-USA.

Wyatt continued that one of the most effective and efficient solutions to reducing and preventing food waste is growing the recycled food economy, because consumer products can evolve in a relatively short time and because the vast majority of consumers want to be part of the solution.

According to the UFA, 99% of people agree that food waste is a problem and 95% say they want to take action in their own lives to prevent food waste.

“We’re all taught from a very young age that food waste is bad, so basically everyone agrees that food waste is bad. It’s really an alignment between the interest of businesses, the interest of the environment and consumer interest because,”Wyatt said.

Progress made

So what kind of bumps can recycled food and beverage products actually make, and how do you measure progress in this area?

Last year, the Upcycled Food Association launched its own certification program in which brands and products must go through a third-party audit to ensure that the ingredient(s) in question would have been wasted and that “therefore, the existence of this product has a significant impact on the prevention of food waste”,explained Wyatt.

So far, between 180 and 200 products, from small emerging brands to large CPG companies such as Del Monte and Dole, have SKUs that have been certified under the UFA certification program, which translates to the equivalent of 788 million pounds of food waste saved per year. , Wyatt noted.

“It’s good for our first year, but we’re just getting started. We want a recycled product in every aisle of every grocery store. New products are constantly being certified and we are discovering how impactful this industry is. Our goal as an organization is to accelerate the demand for recycled products, and that is how we rate ourselves. And in the process, we hope to create an environment where recycled businesses will be more successful, which means more products will come online all the time,” Wyatt said.

“We work very hard to build a brand around Upcycled Certified, and then use all of the pooled resources of all of these companies to promote that brand. We have ads that come out and our own brand presence, and we work with retailers and get them to feature Upcycled Certified on a mouthpiece.”

Ingredients with potential

While the UFA sees products using everything from discarded coffee cherry husks (cascara) to brewers’ spent grains used to make granola bars and dog treats, which areas of the industry do they see as having the most great potential for large-scale impact?

A macro trend that Wyatt has seen in the recycled food movement is to use by-products not only of the food and beverage manufacturing process, but also of agriculture.

Using the CaPao brand (launched by Mondelez SnackFutures arm) as an example, Wyatt said, “Cacao is the fruit they use, and it’s wasted not because it’s not nutritious or delicious, it’s wasted because we’re using it for something else that there’s a ton of demand for. – chocolate – and there’s not a ton of demand for the fruit, so they’re creating a market for that fruit that would have been wasted before.

“From making cheese, there’s the acid whey byproduct, so there’s a handful of our members who make probiotic soda and other beverages with everything in between.”

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