The Future of Upcycling

Posted November 12, 2019 by Alyssa Stahr

Waste not, want not, a saying that’s been around since the 1700s, still rings true today. Food waste is an epidemic in the United States, yet so many people live in poverty. Although the world hunger problem won’t be solved soon enough, upcycling has reached an entire new level of innovation in the food and beverage industry, and we’re excited to see the evolution.

Upcycled, recycled, what’s the difference?

Recycling is repurposing of already used products, giving them rebirth from what they once were. But, to upcycle is to not throw away to begin with. What would normally be discarded as “waste” has new life thanks to upcycling innovators. In fact, in many cases, upcycling an item can actually increase the value of the item more than the original! In upcycling, waste is looked at as a resource, not something to throw out with the trash.

Upcycled’s Firsts in Food

2019 saw two major firsts in upcycling within the confectionary and bar categories. This fall, chocolatier Barry Callebaut announced the launch of Wholefruit, dubbed “the next generation food and drink category.” Barry Callebaut’s research and development team, according to Confectionerynews.com, “have unlocked the full potential of cacao, ‘the food of the gods,’ by utilizing the whole fruit. For the first time ever, the Cacaofruit Experience category uses the whole cacao fruit in its products — upcycling at its finest.

An astounding 70% of the fruit used to be thrown out as waste, but now Cacaofruit Experiences uses beans for the chocolate and its peel and pulp juice as a natural sweetener. Barry Callebaut reps say that the ingredients from the cacao pod aren’t just limited to chocolates. Juices, smoothies, frozen desserts, bakery and pastry products, snacks and flours can also benefit. The Wholefruit Chocolate will roll out in May 2020.

Part of ReGrained’s tagline pays homage to its commitment to upcycling: Zero Waste. ReGrained takes the spent grain from the beer brewing process, “elevating this overlooked but awesome ingredient to the hero status it deserves,” the company says. The result is upcycled value in the form of a line of nutrition bars and puffs.

ReGrained SuperGrain+® is the first upcycled supergrain — a nutrient-dense flour — of its kind, packed with prebiotic fiber, plant protein and micronutrients. The supergrain boasts 55% more dietary fiber than wheat flour, 24% more protein than quinoa and 26% fewer calories than wheat flour, all benefits that are the core of what upcycling is all about.

As more consumers are allocating their dollars toward products and brands that are environmentally conscious, our prediction is that upcycling isn’t just a trend — it’s a practice that will continue to grow in the future.

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