Upcycling – One of the Hottest Trends of 2022!
Upcycling, have your heard of it? Thanks to Billie Eilish’s dress at the Met Gala upcycling has begun to enter mainstream consciousness. While most of us can’t get Gucci to design us an upcycled custom dress there are many new companies with affordable upcycled products that give today’s consumers sustainable choices. And unsurprisingly, given the amount of food waste in the US each year many companies like Grain4Grain are focused on creating innovative solutions that reduce the byproduct waste in the food industry. That’s why upcycling is one of the hottest trends currently in the food and beverage industries and has been highlighted recently by Forbes, the Today Show, and the Financial Times.
What is Upcycling and Why it’s Needed
According to Feeding America, 108 billion pounds of food is wasted each year in the US at a value of over $408 BILLION. So clearly, there is room here for improvement but how do we make a difference? Well, at Grain4Grain we have decided to focus on upcycling byproducts from different food and beverage steams (ie the beer brewing process). A question we get all time is “What is upcycling and how does it differ from recycling?” Well, let’s imagine what happens to our aluminum cans when we are done with our beverages and recycle them. After the cans are collected and labels are removed they are melted down to create aluminum for future use. Thus, recycling is the process of breaking down items into raw materials that can be used again. Upcycling is different in that we take byproducts or used products and improve them to create something new. Grain4Grain actually collects grains left over from the brewing process and dries and mills it into a high protein, high fiber low net carb flour that we use in our products and sell to customers for use in baked and breaded goods.
Why are We Just Now Talking about Upcycling?
Many people ask us “Why upcycling just trending now if food waste has been an issue for years?“ Well, the simplest explanation is that there has been a lack of investment by food companies because they felt that consumers would not want products that use novel ingredients (ie not bleached wheat flour and high fructose corn syrup). However, recently upcycled foods have been buoyed by both changing consumer tastes and consumers paying a premium for brands that provide healthy options that reduce the carbon footprint of the food and beverage industries. This growth in the upcycled food space has attracted both the attention of traditional food companies and investment firms looking to grow their green business portfolios. In fact, Forbes recently highlighted investments into food upcycling firms on its website. This is great news because as companies like Grain4Grain invest more in their technologies they will achieve economies of scale and the price of upcycled products will decrease over time making them a viable, economic option for many large food companies. Once upcycled products are an economic alternative to traditional ingredients it will be very exciting as we will see a tremendous decrease in the amount of food waste produced around the world.
So How Can I Make a Difference Today and Support Upcycling?
Consumers can make a difference by purchasing incredibly tasty and healthy upcycled foods which helps reduce the carbon footprint of the food and beverage industries. And with the creation of the Upcycled Food Association, which certifies upcycled ingredients and products, it’s also become a lot easier to find sustainable meal choices. At Grain4Grain we are proud to have currently six products certified as “UPcycled” and look forward to helping our customers achieve their ESG goals. Our Barely Barley Flour has lower carbs due to the beer brewing process (The carbs stay in the beer) which helps you maintain a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. So again, while we all can’t be extremely talented musicians which custom upcycled dresses designed by top fashion houses, we can still do our part to ensure that tasty, healthy upcycled foods are a trend that is here to stay!