Upcycling Foods and Spent Grains Manage Food Waste & Sustainability

Food waste is a growing problem around the world, but the upcycling food and spent grains trends are working to help combat this issue. In the same way that we helped readers understand the zero-waste movement, this guide will explain how upcycling foods and spent grains helps reduce food waste while promoting sustainability.

What is Upcycling Food?

Upcycling foods refers to using ingredients in recipes that would otherwise not have been consumed by people. The food is still obtained through verifiable supply chains but utilizing the food that would go to waste not only helps our food supply but also the environment and consumers.

Upcycling is also a way for companies that produce food to add value to surplus ingredients or byproducts that may not previously have been used for other things. Companies everywhere are starting to repurpose things like ‘ugly’ vegetables into chips and other nutritious food.

For instance, an ice cream shop named Salt & Straw created an original flavor that used spices leftover from a distillery and apple butter from bruised apples that were headed to the landfill.

Similarly, the Real Good Stuff Co. in Chicago turns extra juice pulp into unique popsicles right from ingredients that would have otherwise just ended up in the trash!

The Spent Grains Trend

Another aspect of upcycling utilizes spent grains. This is what’s left after the beer has been brewed – after the mash has extracted the sugars into the liquid that will become beer, the protein, barley, and other nutrients remain.

These spent grains can then be used to make things like pizza dough and waffles. While this may seem like a small effort, incorporating spent grains can significantly reduce the amount of wasted food.

Toast Ale, for example, is a company that developed a pale ale that uses surplus bread as a primary ingredient. They had estimated that over 40% of bread is wasted, and each bottle they produce can save about one slice of bread.

Another company called Regrained uses spent grains from breweries to develop a flour that they have named SuperGrain+, which they then use to create snack bars.

Simply put, upcycling foods and using spent grains presents an important opportunity for us to boost sustainability by reducing food waste. This falls in perfectly with Nikken’s mission to remain environmentally friendly via our sustainability process and commitment.

The Importance of Upcycling Food

So, why does upcycling food matter?

Research conducted by Future Market Insights found that this industry was worth almost $47 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a rate of about 5% each year – for the next 10 years!

Not only is this a growing industry that consumers are willing to spend more on, but food waste as a whole is still a major problem. The UN estimates that up to $400 billion worth of food gets wasted before it even makes it to a store for us to purchase. Americans alone waste almost an entire pound of food each day.

This growing problem contributes directly to climate change since the impact of wasted food gets magnified by the energy, water, and land resources that were required to produce it. An organization that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Project Drawdown, believes that reducing food waste will be the number one solution to slow global warming.

How to Get Started with Upcycling Foods & Spent Grains

If sustainability is important to you, consider getting started with upcycling foods and spent grains so that you could do your part to reduce food waste.

Take a look at your current processes and identify any areas that produce unnecessary waste. Is there any way that you could repurpose that food? Could you utilize spent grains in your recipes or use “ugly” vegetables instead?

You can join the movement just by supporting brands and manufacturers that make an effort to upcycle and reduce food waste as well! Looking for more upcycling tips – request more information from the Nikken Team and we’ll be in touch!