Approximately 30 to 40% of the food supply in the United States is wasted, whether by consumers or manufacturing companies, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While many businesses and consumers are seeking sustainability strategies, some food companies — especially within the snacking category — are doing their part by recycling food waste from the manufacturing process.
Forager Project, San Francisco, which primarily was known for its yogurt, now sells a line of vegetable chips made from reprocessed juice leftovers in addition to sprouted grains and seeds for flavor and health benefits. Another San Francisco-based company, ReGrained, creates snack bars using leftover grain from craft breweries that are high in protein and fiber and low in sugar.
Barnana, Santa Monica, Calif., has a mission to end food waste on organic banana farms. The company takes bananas that are too ripe or aren’t the correct size and transforms them into chips and other snacks. This kind of sustainability mindset that is shared by many beverage and food companies also has reached consumers, who are becoming more interested in these products.
At the 64th Annual Summer Fancy Food Show from June 30 to July 2, the Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel, which included individuals with food analysis, academic and consultant professions, identified current and emerging trends. Upcycled food was one of the top trends on this list — labeled “trending strongly” by the S.F.A. — and was predicted to increase in 2019.
“As consumers become more aware of how much food is wasted in the U.S., upcycled products made of ingredients and scraps that would have otherwise been discarded, will hold bigger appeal,” the panel said. “We’re already seeing pressed juice made from imperfect fruit, chips made from fruit pulp, and snack bars made from spent grain from the beermaking process.”
Tyson Foods’, Springdale, Ark., considered sustainability-minded consumers when it introduced its Yappah brand, which includes Protein Crisps that combine upcycled chicken breast trim, grain leftover from beer brewing and vegetable puree from juicing. The snack comes in four varieties and is packaged in a recyclable aluminum can. Tyson also plans to add more reprocessed products to its Yappah brand by using consumer feedback.
“We want to connect directly with this enthusiastic community that cares about creating better food,” said Santiago Proaño, brand lead for Tyson’s Innovation Lab. “Their reaction to the product, and their engagement with us, will help us get ready for what we hope will be a much broader roll-out.”
A study from Drexel University called “From food waste to value‐added surplus products (VASP): Consumer acceptance of a novel food product category,” researched the potential for consumer acceptance of products from discarded ingredients. The researchers discovered that the negative connotation derived from products being made from what some might call “garbage,” can be overlooked by consumers if correct marketing verbiage is used. In the survey, the word “upcycled,” was most preferred by consumers, who overall want to buy foods revolved around sustainability.
“There is an economic, environmental and cultural argument for keeping food, when possible, as food and not trash,” said Jonathan Deutsch, professor at Drexel University and joint researcher on the project. “Converting surplus foods into value-added products will feed people, create opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship and lower the environmental impact of wasted resources.”