Every year we can recognize various trends that shape how we consume, communicate, and behave as a society. While food-related trends may not seem like a big deal, we would like to challenge that notion. Whole Foods Market included upcycled foods as one of their top 10 trending food items to watch in the year 2021 – and as an upcycled food brand, we couldn’t be happier. The upcycled food industry has grown to 46 Billion dollars in value – and it is expected to grow another 5% every year (1). Experts believe that this results from the growing awareness of the climate crisis that threatens our very existence. Up to 40% of the food grown in the US is wasted, which costs us money, resources, and is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (2). Luckily, a recent report found that 60% of US consumers would like to start consuming more upcycled food products, and of that, 95% hope to begin reducing food waste from home (3). Upcycled foods are having their “moment,” which is why we wanted to share a little more about them and why you seriously need to try out this trend!
Upcycling is the act of giving value to something that previously had little to no function or use. Many industries adopt the upcycled model – for example, some clothing brands upcycle scraps of material that would have been wasted to create new items. By doing this, they are getting the most out of what they have - the key to upcycling.
The Upcycled Food Association (UFA) is a nonprofit organization that works to grow the upcycled food industry. The UFA created a formal definition for upcycled foods this year 2020. It states that “upcycled foods use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains and have a positive impact on the environment” (3). This definition ensures that businesses selling food products labeled as “upcycled” really are reducing waste and making the world a better place. It also reduces the risk of greenwashing - a ploy where businesses market themselves as environmentally friendly when, in reality, they are not (4).
Purchasing upcycled foods is, first and foremost, something that will only benefit you as a consumer. Upcycled food products tend to come from nutritious ingredients that would have been wasted. Thus, opting to purchase foods that would be wasted due to a lack of innovation, imperfections, etc. means that they are more affordable. Buying upcycled products is also an excellent solution to aid the climate crisis. If you have been wondering how to be more sustainable, purchasing upcycled foods is one answer; and you can feel good knowing that you are making choices that make a positive change in the world.
Did you know that about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions directly result from food waste? When we waste food, we are also wasting the water, land, money, and other resources that went into producing it. Food that is wasted tends to wind up in a landfill where it releases greenhouse gases. It also never gets to break down correctly into viable soil. Sustainability is defined as the ability to maintain an action at a certain level, and by wasting food, energy, and other resources, we are not sustainable. If we do not continue to find solutions like upcycled food products, we will eventually run out of resources that we desperately need. Upcycling is a sustainable practice that ensures we are using our resources to the best of our ability.
These days we are relatively disconnected from the understanding of where our food comes from. Farmers and other producers work hard to keep food in stock on grocery store shelves year-round. However, when producers grow crops but only profit on a portion of what they produce, it hurts them. Many farmers grow crops that grocery stores turn away due to superficial imperfections - meaning they never profit from a full-harvest. Another problem is when only part of the fruit or veggie produced is used in production. Upcycled foods use solutions to create something out of any part of the grown food and make sure imperfect produce is used too! This allows the farmers to grow our food to profit from every part of the crops they grow.
Our candy, FAVES, is made from upcycled fruits and vegetables from local California farms. We utilize surplus produce that farmers cannot sell simply because they look a little different from what grocery store standards require. We are happy to be a part of the Upcycled Food Association and help raise food waste awareness while also reducing it with our healthy candy. If you are interested in trying faves, visit our website to purchase a pack! It’s good for you and the planet.