From avocado toast to sparkling water, countless trends have dominated the food industry in the past decade but the rise of the upcycled food industry might be one of the most surprising.
It wasn’t long ago that imperfectly shaped peppers would almost always find their way to a rubbish pile before ever making it to consumers. But in the past few years professional and home chefs have been reaching for those peppers, turning them into delicious omelets or using them as an ingredient in pizza sauce. They’re part of an upcycled food waste industry that was worth $46.7 billion in 2019, and has an expected Compound Annual Growth Rate of 5% for the next 10 years.
Yes, food waste is still a huge problem. The United Nations estimates $400 billion of food is wasted before it even gets delivered to stores. On average, an individual American wastes one pound of food each day. That wasted food directly contributes to global warming.
Results to repurpose food that would otherwise go to waste have been mixed. Earlier this year Tyson Foods announced it would quit making its Yappah brand of protein crisps sourced from leftover chicken breast trim, vegetable puree, juice pulp and Molson Coors spent grain. Yet, across the country individuals, and entrepreneurs are continuing to dive into the food waste industry. Here are 11 companies making products you can find online and in supermarket aisles.
White Moustache: This Brooklyn-based yogurt company uses surplus fruit and whey, a byproduct of yogurt production that is often tossed, to make probiotic tonics and frozen yogurt probiotic pops.
Ground Rules: Using imperfect and leftover fruits and vegetables, this San Francisco-based company makes chips without the use of preservatives. You can currently find them in flavors including, Naked Beets, Sweet Potato and Apple.
WTRMLN WTR: Takes produce that doesn’t meet aesthetic standards and would normally be tossed and turns them into flavored water.
Pulp Pantry: The classic chips you had at lunch as a kid get a sustainable upgrade from Pulp Pantry which makes chips using vegetable juice pulp.
Barnana: This California-based company partners with farms in Latin America to buy bananas that would otherwise get thrown out. After dehydrating the bananas they turn them into different flavored snacks such as such as Chocolate Banana Bites.
The Real Dill: Started as a pickle company, The Real Dill, expanded to sell Bloody Mary mix as a way to use the cucumber-infused water created during the pickling process.
Scraps Frozen Food: This Brooklyn-based frozen pizza company upcycles ingredients like broccoli leaves, excess or bruised basil leaves and imperfectly shaped peppers to make sauces for their pizzas.
Sir Kensington’s: The condiment company partners with a hummus manufacturer to source aquafaba, created from the water leftover from cooking chickpeas, to make a vegan mayo.
RISE Products: This Brooklyn company takes spent grains, a byproduct of brewing beer, from New York breweries and turns them into flour.
Lazy Bear Tea: Launched in 2017, this tea company makes a smooth black tea from dried cascara, which would otherwise be wasted during the coffee production process.
Regrained: Takes the spent grains created as a byproduct of brewing beer and turns them into protein bars.
Toast Ale: Cheers to beer made from surplus bread.