Upcycled Certification highlights products procured and produced with surplus food or food by-products that would have otherwise gone to waste. The certification program utilizes independent, third-party oversight to verify the use of upcycled food ingredients, enabling brands to apply an on-package Upcycled Certified mark to qualifying products.
To achieve this certification, products must demonstrate they are formulated with at least 10% of upcycled inputs or that the product utilizes enough upcycled ingredients to meet specific thresholds for the tonnage of food waste diverted as defined in the Upcycled Standard. Ingredients can also be certified when they contain at least 95% upcycled inputs. In either case, all certified items must be handled in verifiable supply chains with appropriate food safety, identity preservation, and traceability systems in place.
Why upcycling is becoming important in the CPG industry
Consumers hold an ever-increasing power when it comes to making purchasing decisions that align with their values. With this, brands are becoming intimately aware of the importance of telling a transparent story about how their food is produced, what ingredients they are using, and where they are sourcing those ingredients from. Per the Upcycled Food Association, 60% of people want to buy more upcycled food products, and 95% want to do their part to reduce food waste.
Given that upcycled foods use ingredients that were not destined for human consumption, they have a positive impact on the environment by creating food products out of the nutrients that would have otherwise been lost. It is estimated that 8% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions come from food loss and waste, which is why reducing food waste is considered the single greatest solution to climate change according to Project Drawdown. As a result, Upcycled Certified foods are an easy way for consumers to participate in preventing food waste via the products they buy. Because of this, brands can leverage the certification to demonstrate a unique aspect of their sustainability story, leaning into the principles consumers are looking to align themselves and their purchasing power with.
Opportunity for companies to upcycle an ingredient or to use an ingredient to create a product
Upcycled Certification is an innovative consumer product-based food waste solution. By choosing to source upcycled inputs, brands are not only able to play a direct part in decreasing food waste, they are also able to leverage new and exciting inputs they may have never considered before. Upcycling food is all about discovering its highest and best use, taking something that was previously discarded and turning it into a valuable and useful food item. With this, supply chains are able to discover ways to develop byproducts instead of sending them to waste, and not only are they capturing more value in their own production systems, they are then able to provide ingredients upstream that would otherwise be sourced from traditional systems. It is a win-win for everyone!
Interested in reading more about upcycling? Read our Supplier Spotlight on The Other Side of Coffee to learn how they turned coffee waste into an antioxidant-rich juice!