Upcycled Food

Hannah Kraus

We all know the organic label, the little red "Ø", and for most Danes the label has become a kind of "one stop shopping". The organic label can easily be used as a credible and easily recognisable marker for a wide range of choices when shopping. For the same reason, we have chosen to add the label "Upcycled Food" on our packaging, so that people can easily identify the sustainable and upcycled products on supermarket shelves. But what does "Upcycled" mean?

Upcycling is in the same category as reuse. It's about reusing a thing or a material that would normally be referred to as waste. When reusing, the material will have a new and improved function while maintaining the original product. This saves enormous resources that would normally be lost as waste.

Often, upcycling is confused with reusing (or recycling). Understandably, since these are two concepts that have many common denominators. However, there are a few significant differences. When reusing, it is the use of a product in its original form with the same function – e.g. the use of recycled clothing, or you can break down the product completely (also called downcycling), where it re-emerges as part of a brand new product, e.g. a juice bottle.

Upcycling, on the other hand, is about taking the product to a new level, without breaking down and spending additional resources on converting the raw material. This process requires lots of creativity and it's all about seeing opportunities and thinking out of the box to create something new.

UPcycling = (Raw) materials gets value added over time and reused again and again

REcycling = Reuse of material in its original form

DOWNcycling = Degradation of materials before being recycled

Food waste accelerates CO2 emissions
One of the biggest social, humanitarian and environmental problems in the world is food waste. When food is thrown away, we waste the energy and water used to grow, produce and package it. And if food ends up at a landfill and rots, it produces methane - a greenhouse gas even more potent than CO2. By stopping food waste, around 11% of greenhouse gas emissions from food systems could be reduced. But as it stands, 88 million tonnes of food are thrown away across the EU every year. At the same time as this huge food waste, global population numbers are rising and there are already areas of the world where there is simply not enough food.

Agrain combats food waste with upcycling and innovation
By 2050, the world's population is estimated to rise to 9.6 billion people. To meet this population growth, food production must increase by +70% or hunger will become an even bigger problem in the future. We also know that more than a third of all food produced in the world is wasted in the traditional linear "produce-use-waste" system. This is why an innovative circular system is needed to minimise the loss of resources. Producing sustainable upcycled products from food industry by-products will solve several of the global problems associated with hunger, resource depletion and even climate change. While it may not sound very romantic with new foods made from side streams, you don't have to compromise on taste and quality for that reason. Many of the untapped resources found in the food industry are tasty and still have plenty of nutrition that can easily set the stage for a delicious product.

Next time you go shopping at your local supermarket and see an Agrain® product on the shelf, you know what the little Upcycled Food logo stands for. Of course, we hope that there will be more in the future so that you can quickly and easily make the sustainable choice in the supermarket.

If you haven't tried our products yet, remember that you can buy them on our webshop and in stores (check the retailer list on the website).

Sources for more in-depth reading: