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Unlocking the Potential of Upcycled Foods


Unlocking the Potential of Upcycled Foods: A Path to Sustainable Consumption

Upcycling food and ingredients is emerging as a promising solution to combat food losses while promoting sustainability. Innovative companies are introducing products like nutritional chips from vegetable scraps and protein-rich snacks from spent brewing grains, showcasing the potential of upcycling in food production. Upcycling not only minimizes food waste but also contributes to a more resilient food system, enhancing food security.

However, upcycled food concepts are relatively new to food manufacturers, retailers and food service organizations. This innovative market is encountering ‘classical’ challenges that hinder widespread adoption, such as scaling solutions, establishing recognized value, and finding the right fit within regulatory frameworks and policies.

Upcycling food losses represents a crucial step towards environmental sustainability within food production. We can minimize our ecological footprint and promote circularity by repurposing food and ingredients, whose value would otherwise fall to a lower level on the food hierarchy ladder. Not only would this reduce the strain on natural resources, it would also align with global efforts to mitigate climate change and foster a more sustainable future.

Join forces to overcome barriers

Cross-sector collaboration is crucial for unlocking the full potential of upcycling in the agri-food sector. From producers to regulators, stakeholders must join forces to overcome existing barriers and seamlessly integrate upcycling practices into established value chains. Furthermore, sectors must recognize the potential for mutual benefit, as side streams deemed worthless or waste in one sector can serve as valuable ingredients in others. By promoting collaboration, we can expedite these inter-sectoral partnerships and innovations in side-stream upcycling, streamline data on sourcing and processing technologies, and ensure that upcycled ingredients and foods become commonplace for manufacturers, food services and retail shelves, rather than the exception.

In addition to reducing their carbon footprint by using upcycled ingredients and foods, these stakeholders also can benefit from prioritizing food security. Decreasing reliance on external, sometimes overseas, supply chains is increasingly crucial in an era of global challenges such as pandemics, climate change and geopolitical instability.

Envisioning the Future

As we approach the milestone year of 2030, the Upcycling Community envisions a future where upcycled foods are integral to sustainable procurement and consumption patterns worldwide, and will also become serious business for owners of valuable side streams. Our collective efforts are directed towards three key objectives:

Firstly, we aim to catalyze the development of successful value propositions that facilitate the integration of upcycled ingredients into a diverse range of food and beverage products. By fostering connections across sectors and value chains, we seek to empower businesses to embrace upcycling as a viable and attractive option for enhancing their product portfolios.

Secondly, we endeavor to foster widespread awareness of the benefits of upcycled foods among authorities, consumers and businesses. By aligning our efforts with EU 2030 policies and United Nations SDG 12.3 goals to reduce food waste and losses, we aim to cultivate a culture of sustainability where upcycling becomes the norm rather than the exception.

Finally, we are committed to the development of supportive regulatory frameworks that provide companies with the necessary guidance and incentives to adopt upcycling practices responsibly. By establishing clear standards and guidelines, we can ensure that upcycled foods are marketed transparently and credibly, fostering consumer trust and confidence in these innovative products. Expanding upon the idea that consumers contribute to food conservation and reward farmers’ efforts, they purchase products that utilize the entirety of the raw materials farmers diligently produce at the farm level.

Join the Upcycling Community today

As we look ahead, the Upcycling Community aims to foster progress in value proposition development, raising awareness, and establishing supportive regulatory frameworks by 2030. Together, we can drive meaningful change and pave the way for a more sustainable future. Join the Upcycling Community to be part of this transformative journey. Let’s collaborate, innovate and make a difference. We look forward to collaborating with food manufacturers, food retailers, food service, agro commodity processors and feed producers & suppliers, amongst others.

Get inspired by our position paper

We are excited to announce the upcoming release of our position paper on upcycling in food production in mid-June. This comprehensive document will explore the challenges, opportunities and actionable strategies for integrating upcycled foods into mainstream consumption patterns. Stay tuned for insights, recommendations and practical steps to drive positive change in your spheres of influence. Do you want to receive this paper directly into your mailbox as soon as it’s launched? Sign up here!


Together, we shape the future by bringing more upcycled ingredients and food products onto our shelves. Do you want to collaborate with us and make a circular agrifood system the new normal? We’re looking for partners to take that first step together and form the UPcycled4Food Initiative. Please contact Caroline Duivenvoorden for more details.

Upcycling position paper