“Upcycling waste into food ingredients could close the food gap,” says Oakland Innovation
01 Oct 2020 --- Upcycling food waste into ingredients or products for human consumption could become standard practice as the world’s population grows, according to Oakland Innovation, part of a consumer science group.
There is an increasing risk of a global “food gap” in the current global climate. To help counter this, pressure is mounting for F&B stakeholders to reduce food waste during production and processing.
Oakland Innovation says as these factors converge, the sector will benefit from a raft of innovation in upcycled F&B products.
New opportunities ahead
Traditionally, technical challenges and costs have been a barrier to upcycling food waste in many circumstances.
This would be set to change, creating new opportunities for both large and small F&B organizations.
Oakland Innovation believes partnership approaches where organizations from different sub-sectors or different skill sets pool their expertise and resources are likely to perform well.
It recently published a whitepaper “Upcycling food waste,” which explores ways to find value in food and waste streams while building a more sustainable food future.
“Delivering a successful upcycled product demands specialist skills and technical capabilities,” explains David Nightingale, principal consultant for foods and beverages at Oakland Innovation.
“There are so many factors to balance with an upcycled food waste product,” he adds.
“From a sustainability point of view, you need to be sure that upcycling represents a better use of resources than other options, such as diverting the waste for animal feed or biogas production. It also needs to be financially viable.”
“And naturally, the end product must satisfy food safety legislation and have sensory qualities that appeal to consumers. Any initiatives in this space need to be carefully considered at the outset, then expert input is necessary throughout the product development journey,” he further elaborates.
Over the last year, upcycling has been increasingly spotlighted as providing new avenues for creating new value-added products across industry.
The upcycled food movement is growing increasingly prominent as brands come under intense scrutiny on their environmental and ethical credentials.
There has also been a surge of venture capital interest in start-ups focused on new technologies and food waste approaches.
For example, last month FoodIngredientsFirst reported how US-based start-up Renewal Mill is transforming waste streams into value-added, premium ingredients. The company specializes in “oat okara” – a nutritious flour made from the oat pulp leftover when oat milk is produced.
In August, researchers found that adding peanut skins can boost milk chocolate’s antioxidant properties while upcycling waste streams, following an investigation spanning a decade. The discovery presented a promising avenue for industry to tap into the healthy indulgence trend and consumers’ increasing environmental concerns.
Meanwhile, back in March, FoodIngredientsFirst reported that innovative bioprocessing technologies might be the key to unraveling the burden of food waste. Bread waste destined for dumpsters can be used as a medium for cultivating microbial starters for the food industry.
Likewise, repurposing the discarded dough from bread production can feed the microorganisms needed to set up fermentation in food industries such as bakeries, dairy and wine-making, found a study from the University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy.
And late last year, moves toward a circular food system expanded to encompass inter-sector collaborations, as seen in McDonald’s partnership with Ford Motor Company, which plans to create new vehicle parts using disposed coffee grounds.
Finally, Canadian company Wize Monkey has also formulated its business model around the upcycling of prunings from the arabica coffee plant to create a tea product similar to black tea in its flavor profile and offers a “light and steady” caffeine kick.
This new tea is further facilitating the creation of year-round jobs during the coffee offseason.
This has seen the gathering of coffee leaves for the upcycling process generate a new stable income for farming communities in Nicaragua, where 100 percent of the material is sourced.
Edited by Elizabeth Green
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