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Week of the Circular Economy – Key Takeaways


Should upcycled ingredients and food become the new norm?

That question was resoundingly answered with a YES by the audience at the Foodvalley Upcycling Community Hub during the Circular Economy Week on March 13, 2024.

Despite a staggering one-third of the world’s annual food production (1.3 billion tonnes) being lost or wasted, circularity within food systems often takes a back seat for influential parties in the agri-food chain. This highlights the urgent need to prioritise preventing food loss and waste throughout the value chain.

Frontrunners in the agri-food value chain are already demonstrating the benefits of upcycling by transforming residues and by-products into high-quality, often healthier products, such as fiber-rich snacks.

At the event, key players stressed the need for change through active panel discussions and interactions with the audience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Prioritising biomass for various applications based on logical destinations is crucial. For example, the substantial stream of fiber- and protein-rich residue from beer brewing should be directed back into food to maximise nutritional value and efficiency, requiring concerted efforts from all parties.
  • Upcycling has the potential to significantly reduce the agri-food sector’s environmental footprint by converting inevitable losses of high-value raw materials into food ingredients, thereby avoiding unnecessary production and processing of new agro-products.
  • Developing new business models for upcycled ingredients and food, and creating the right market conditions, is challenging. Upcycling is still not widely practiced, and the market often lacks awareness of the benefits of these products. Therefore, collaboration among pioneering companies, supported by the government and funders, is essential in laying the groundwork for widespread adoption.

Crucial Role in Circular Agrifood

Foodvalley NL, along with a consortium of international organisations, is spearheading the transformation of the agrifood system from linear to circular through the launch of the Foodvalley Upcycling Community. This initiative aims to utilise more agrifood residue streams for human consumption promote innovative, sustainable, and circular solutions that drive economic growth, and introduce new value propositions and business models.

Together, we’re working towards a future where upcycled ingredients and food are more prevalent on store shelves. Let’s work together to realize this vision and become part of the Foodvalley Upcycling Community.

Watch the after movie of the hub launch here: