10 concepts that reduce food waste

21 Apr 2021


“I am what I eat”, say present day consumers, millennials in particular. They associate food with their personality. The latest Taste Tomorrow survey revealed that consumers are conscientious. They behave responsibly and want to eat ethically. The desire of young consumers to live an ethical lifestyle is closely linked to sustainability. There are numerous ways food producers can respond to consumer needs for ethical and sustainable products that reflect consumers' personal beliefs. The following ten companies focus on preventing food waste, both to satisfy ethical consumers and to reduce their environmental impact.

Consumers care about the planet, people and the future

The ethical lifestyle trend is one of the nine global trends highlighted by the Taste Tomorrow survey. The main concerns within this trend fall into three key categories: the planet, people and future generations. Consumers value sustainably produced products, locally sourced food and take animal welfare into account. And as almost 90% of respondents expect food shortages in the future, they’re willing to consider potential solutions. There are numerous ways the industry can respond to these consumer needs. Reducing food waste is one of them. The ten concepts highlighted here do their utmost to reduce the amount of food wasted, each in their own way, from upcycling leftovers to using technology for smarter use of ingredients.

1. Pulp Pantry - juice leftovers transformed into snacks (USA)

95% of the vegetable fibre remains in the pulp when making cold-pressed juice. ‘That's a waste’, thought the founders of Pulp Pantry, so they came up with a way to use those nutritious leftovers. They now upcycle the vegetable pulp to crisps — which means not only cutting down food waste, but also offering consumers a healthy alternative to potato crisps and tortilla chips. The snacks are high in fibre and low in carbs. Pulp Pantry specifically brands itself as a ‘snack with impact’ to appeal to sustainable shoppers, cleverly adapting to the ethical consumerism trend.

2. Sagamiya - weather-dictated tofu production (Japan)

Checking the weather forecast is helping Japan’s leading tofu maker Sagamiya Foods to prevent tofu surpluses. To cut down on their food waste, they developed a way to predict sales. The temperature was a suitable indicator to predict the demand for their products, so now data from the Japan Weather Association is being used to decide how much tofu is made. This smart data-driven solution is successfully reducing Sagamiya’s surplus production and saves the company about 10 million yen a year. Meanwhile, the sixty-year-old brand has developed a vegan cheese based on tofu. Both of these initiatives respond to the environmental concerns of people around the world.

3. Barstensvol - surplus food factory (Netherlands)

This concept offers a line of convenient, ready-to-heat pepper, courgette, mushroom and tomato soups, made from overripe or excess produce. Barstensvol's recipes are specifically developed to use up produce that is commonly discarded by food producers and growers. They collect vegetables that would otherwise end up in a bioreactor (also known as a fermenter) and turn them into a new consumer product: soup. The recipes are prepared at De Verspillingsfabriek, which is Dutch for The Surplus Food Factory. This factory employs people with poor job prospects, which is another ethical aspect of their production.

4. Barnana - rescuing imperfect bananas (USA)

Caue Suplicy, the CEO of Barnana, uses a family recipe for the brand’s signature banana snacks. The banana treats are inspired by the dehydrated banana that Suplicy’s father used to make during his childhood in Brazil. Barnana turns the bananas and plantains that the industry considers too imperfect for consumers into snacks such as banana bites, cookies and crisps. Stopping food waste was the starting point for Barnana and they have saved 100 million bananas so far, but the company's goals have now expanded far beyond just rescuing fruit. Barnana wants to support indigenous communities in Peru, Mexico and Ecuador by securing extra income for small-scale farms through buying the produce that would have otherwise been left behind. Furthermore, they are working on rebuilding and restoring soil biodiversity to become even more sustainable.

5. Lumitics - helping chefs with food waste insight (Singapore)

‘Reducing food waste begins with measuring it’ is the motto of Lumitics, a food tech company from Singapore that wants to help the food service industry cut down their food waste. Lumitics gives chefs insight into their food waste by a technology that photographs, weighs and analyses all the food that is being thrown into the bin. They use AI image recognition to identify for instance how many sandwiches are being thrown away, how often and at what cost. Lumitics then gives feedback on the steps towards reducing the waste, which can be through optimized production, increasing yield rates, smarter purchasing and menu engineering. The technology makes it easy for businesses to tackle food waste, because there’s minimal effort and no in-depth knowledge or extensive research required.

6. ReGrained - brewing leftovers turned into flour (USA)

ReGrained rescues the nutritious grain created in the process of brewing beer and upcycles it into SuperGrain+ flour using their patent-pending technology. With this flour, they produce all kinds of bars that contain inherently nutritious ingredients, like the Honey Cinnamon IPA Immunity Bar, the Chocolate Coffee Stout Energy Bar and the Blueberry Sunflower Saison Antioxidant Bar. This way, they make doing and feeling good as easy as eating a snack. Consumers get both the healthy-yet-tasty product they are craving for, and the upcycling aspect that fits within the food-as-identity trend. And the ReGrain options don’t stop with bars. From savory to sweet: the possibilities with this upcycled grain are endless.

7. Toast Real Ale - beer made from leftover bread (UK)

Another beer-related concept is Toast Real Ale. This artisanal brewery turns the process around and makes ale from leftover bread. They collect unsold bread from retailers and artisanal bakers and use it to make premium ale. It’s also a craft beer (not mass-produced), so they are not only responding to the ethical lifestyle trend, but to the craft trend as well.

8. Too Good To Go - selling leftovers to consumers (Finland)

Too Good To Go dreams of a planet with no food waste, and every day they are working on making that a reality. Their app connects businesses and consumers that want to fight food waste. Restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and other food outlets can list their leftover products on the app, so consumers can buy them and pick them up just before closing time. On the app, consumers can find offerings ranging from breakfast buffet surpluses and fresh goods that are near their sell-by date to complete meals. Too Good To Go offers consumers a good deal on food products and helps businesses achieve revenue from their food waste, while everyone contributes to stopping food waste. A win-win-win situation!

9. FoodMaven - a second life for crooked cucumbers (USA)

FoodMaven believes it is unethical to throw away fresh, wholesome and nutritious food while so many people are going hungry. That’s why they sell excess or "faulty" supplies of high-quality local produce to restaurants and canteens. Think crooked cucumbers, small (but tasty) strawberries, scratched tomatoes and so on. FoodMaven is well aware of the demands for sustainable foods from the market. This can be seen from the fact that they provide their customers with “powerful storytelling tools” to help them build a sustainable brand.

10. Perfectly Imperfect Produce - boxes with imperfect veggies (USA)

Imperfect Produce is a similar concept to FoodMaven, but focused on consumers. They fight food waste by finding a home for "ugly" produce. More than 20% of the fruit and vegetables grown in America never make it off the farm because they aren't perfect enough for grocery store standards. That generates billions of pounds of wasted produce every year — produce that is just as nutritious and delicious but merely looks a little different. The content of the boxes that Perfectly Imperfect Produce supplies to consumers can be customized. So if you don’t like kale, you won’t get kale. This means they only deliver items the customer likes, thereby doing even more to prevent food waste.

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