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The Upcycling Community

Towards a more
circular system

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.

Why an Upcycling Community?

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.

Upcycling Community Partners

Foodvalley takes initiative

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:

  • Bringing together a diverse and impactful group of business partners with a shared interest in upcycling food losses
    We must create the right conditions to get circular products on the shelves. One of these challenges is whether consumers are open to consuming products from ingredients previously seen as ‘food losses’.
  • Challenges to scaling upcycled ingredients and food innovations
    The partners of the Upcycling Community come from various parts of the supply chain and geographical locations. Our partners share knowledge and identify collaboration opportunities on challenges they face together. They also work together on creating iconic upcycled products to introduce to the market.
  • Bridging food innovators
    Food manufacturers are often not ready to invest in product development/lab research to realise an update for more circular ingredients. They have strict conditions for the availability, price and quality of ingredients. This creates barriers to transitioning to a new value chain with more circular ingredients. We need to create the right conditions to encourage purchasers and product developers to replace virgin ingredients.
  • Fact-based decision making
    Additional processing steps can be associated with more costs, higher carbon and water footprint and a loss of total usable nutrients. To make the right decisions for valorising side streams or purchasing circular ingredients, AI models and scenario studies can support transition thinking.

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.

Eve Martinet-Bareau – IFF  

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

Sebastiaan Hetterschijt – Bakkersgrondstof  

Upcycling Community Achievements

The role of Foodvalley NL starts when new collaborations in the food supply chain is needed, and stakeholders are not able to create those coalitions on their own. Challenges 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 need a pre-competitive approach. For that reason, Foodvalley NL started the Upcycling Community in May 2022.

The Upcycling Community is an international and closed group of business partners that collaborate on the topic ‘upcycling of food waste streams’. The community setting creates a safe environment where organizations can share ideas, get inspired on new developments and insights from the market and research. The Upcycling Community exists of business partners who are ambitious about upcycling, come from various parts of the value chain, and vary from scale-up to SME and Corporate organisation.

Bridging Circular Food Innovators

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Winner of Upcycling Horticulture Sides Streams

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How to move consumer and market towards more upcycled food

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Bridging Circular Food Innovators

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How brewer’s spent grain can be used for more valuable products

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Upcycled Food and Ingredients Position Paper  

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.

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UPcycled4Food Initiative  

Upcycled products and ingredients should be widely adopted by food manufacturers, on supermarket shelves and food service offerings. That’s the ambition of the new Upcycled4Food Initiative, launched by Foodvalley’s Upcycling Community.

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