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- Caroline Duivenvoorden, Programme Manager Circular Agrifood.
Worldwide one third of food produced every year (1.3 billion tonnes) is lost or wasted. Food losses and food waste has a global carbon footprint of about 8% of all global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans. Losses in the value chain occur from farm to fork. Obviously, prevention of food losses and waste should have the highest priority. However, the impact of applying technological solutions and of developing the collaborations and markets to keep unavoidable losses and waste of food in the agrifood system is also crucial from a sustainability perspective.
There are already many great technologies in place that result in a higher valorisation of side streams that are the result of processing agri commodities and food manufacturing. However, the great challenge and opportunity is to transform the current system into new circular supply chains were circular raw materials find their best destinations all the way up in the value chain.
The Upcycling Community is an international and closed group of partners collaborating on upcycling of food losses towards food and feed. Upcycling is all about creating optimal value out of food losses and byproducts. Although ultimately food losses are best prevented, the valorisation of foodlosses towards use as food and feed is the second-best option from a resource valorisation perspective.
There are still challenges to valorising side streams in food. Challenges that need a pre-competitive approach, such as product quality, safety, consumer acceptance of circular food concepts and the environmental gain or loss of processing side streams into food-grade ingredients. And even the terminology is not unequivocal yet.
To overcome these hurdles through collective action, Foodvalley NL launched the Upcycling Community in May 2022. What subjects are we working on?
Increasingly, small scale and large scale operations are working on alternative destinations for side streams of agrifood industry. This offers encouragement that circular agrifood business models are gaining traction. However, the scale is still quite small, and many barriers exist. Challenges such as the quality, stable availability and safety of side streams processed up towards food are completed and need a pre-cometitive approach. Moreover the market is not ready. Consumer acceptance of circular food concepts is uncertain, the implementation costs are still quite high and the aimed positive impact on the environmental footprint of upcycled ingredients and food needs to be substantiated further. Foodvalley NL is currently exploring ways to tackle those challenges and to accelerate the uptake of upcycling food losses towards upcycled ingredients in food. So we are:
The recently created Upcycling Community of the Foodvalley network is a great resource to meet with other pioneers in the Upcycling movement, across the whole food value chain, and collaborate to find solutions to the barriers linked to change from linear to circular design.
The biggest roadblock we have is to ensure that we make new agreements with each other throughout the food value chain, based on what is best for the world, for the people who live in it and based on complete openness. Most of the necessary innovations are social innovation. Don’t forget SMEs, these entrepreneurs change and adapt very easily
Foodvalley is working with Upcycling Community partners and other stakeholders on a position paper on Upcycled Food and Ingredients. The position paper will seek alignment between various stakeholders on the definition of upcycled food and ingredients, their attributed values, and how these should be communicated in the industry — all the way up to the consumer.Read more