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Giving Food Waste A New Life

May 20, 2024

Consider this: In carrot production, only 10% of carrot seeds are used to grow into carrots. 90% of these carrot seeds are too low in germination level, so they are thrown out into landfills, creating greenhouse gas emissions. Combine that with 2/3 of people globally considering climate change an emergency1, plus the general scarcity of resources, there must be a more responsible way to use resources. So, what can we do to help?

What if we could create something from this byproduct to not only help the planet by reducing waste, but also to help manufacturers differentiate with great tasting products? We can, with upcycling.

“Upcycling” means “transforming a byproduct into something of even higher value or of different usage”, differing from “recycling” which means “transforming a byproduct into something of lower or similar value”. In the carrot seed example above, our team can turn these, otherwise considered useless carrot seeds, into carrot seed oil that can add flavor, complexity, and depth to foods to make something truly delicious.

According to FMCG Gurus2, 80% of consumers believe that upcycling can help address the issue of food waste, and 71% find upcycled ingredients appealing. However, there are still some barriers for consumers to buy into upcycling. Upcycling is a relatively new concept for consumers. So, it can leave them asking questions like: Is upcycled food safe to eat? How will this affect the taste of my food? Will I have to pay more for upcycled food? As we know from numerous consumer trend reports, taste, nutrition and price come first for consumers. Environmental benefits are a welcome addition to these criteria.

Upcycling side streams from production is of interest to many manufacturers, and these consumer concerns make it crucial that the final product meets the highest standards of taste, quality and value for money.

Our job is to ensure the taste profile, cost, quality, and safety of these upcycled products are competitive with similar non-upcycled products.

The challenge for food and beverage producers is that upcycled raw material may vary in quality and composition depending on the source of the side stream. To meet the desired quality and functionality of a final food product made with upcycled raw material, taste design and formulation expertise is essential. For instance, certain upcycled raw materials, such as cascara (a tea-like drink brewed from discarded coffee cherry), can taste a bit dull but with the help of IFF’s Product Design™ expertise, our modulating flavor tools, and a range of innovative upcycled flavoring extracts, we can help transform upcycled raw material into a differentiating, great tasting end-product with high consumer appeal.

As Signe Causse, IFF’s Innovation Marketing Lead for our RE-IMAGINE WASTE™ Innovation Program notes, “A sustainable product is only as good as it tastes. We help our customers win with taste, nutrition and with the added benefit of the final product being upcycled and sustainable”.

LMR Naturals by IFF, an integrated part of IFF since 2000, delivering high quality natural ingredients with sustainability at heart, has applied the circular design principles of “upcycling”, striving to prevent waste and/or find a purpose for the by-product, with a positive upcycle process, producing high quality extracts.

This circular design principle resulted in the LMR Upcycling Collection, including products made from various leftover materials, such as used water and plant waste from our own production as well as from other companies. For example, we use leftover rosewater, spent hops, old beehives, turmeric roots, surplus bran, and carrot seeds that don’t sprout well.

Our rose flavoring extract is for instance derived from discarded distillation water from rose fragrance production in Turkey. Our team discovered that the rose petals from distillation still contained fragrant molecules. These molecules have been recovered to create ROSE ESSENTIAL™, a unique product, with fresh, floral, and citrus notes, with a potential to give a novel touch to food and beverage products. ROSE ESSENTIAL™ is a “FOR LIFE”-certified ingredient by Ecocert, recognizing that the company and its’ partners have worked in compliance with environmental criteria, good working conditions, and transparency.

Another innovative example from the LMR Upcycling Collection is HOP ULTIMATE™. The exhausted hop CO2 extract from dried hop pellets, which is traditionally discarded when producing a bittering, flavoring, and stability agent in beer, are recovered and extracted, resulting in a fresh, green, citrus note with tropical fruit profile – a great fit with NOLO beverages or even in savory products.

Bringing upcycling from niche to norm is a journey – let’s take that journey together by creating great tasting upcycled food and beverage products that consumers love! For more information on how IFF can help you bring upcycled products to life, take a look at more Upcycling examples here or reach out to your account manager for more information.


1: https://www.weforum.org/videos/2-in-3-people-think-climate-change-is-a-global-emergency/

2: FMCG Gurus: Top Ten Trends for 2024.

Creativity & Innovation, Sustainability, Upcycling