Reducing waste and making operations more efficient and less taxing to the environment is on the radar of most businesses in 2019. But certain sectors of the food and beverage industry see big profits in coming up with new uses for items that might otherwise end up in the landfill.
That was one of the main takeaways at last month’s Food Waste Fair, which was held at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City. Vendors ranged from sustainable coffee brands to waste management consultants, and the idea of sustainable reuse was a very hot topic, with a cornucopia of innovative companies primed to cash in on waste.
The raw numbers don’t lie: According to Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data, food waste is a booming business worth $46.7 billion in 2019 and has an expected CAGR of 5% for the next 10 years.
Could your company make more use of waste?
Reduce, reuse, recycle is a mantra that most of us take for granted. All over the industry, companies are looking at the first and last “r’s” carefully: can this packaging be improved with post-consumer waste or by a reduction in overall size, shape or weight? Operationally, companies always want more efficiency: less raw material going into the landfill, and more destined for another life in recycling. The “reuse” part of the equation is often the most enticing to entrepreneurial folks. After all, if there is an ingredient or material that is being tossed and can be put to good and profitable use, it’s a win-win situation all around.
From “ugly” veggies to beer brewed with bread, these purveyors are spinning trash into gold.
The rise of “ugly” produce
As an entry into the trendy meal delivery ecosystem, Misfits Market unpacks the challenge of acquiring upscale customers with a twist: they pledge to deliver delicious but sometimes cosmetically blemished produce. Forlorn potatoes, crinkly eggplants, and stubby carrots are all some of the items subscribers may receive in their fresh-from-the-farm box, along with a steep discount and the positive feeling that they are provide a use for produce that would otherwise be tossed.
But it’s not just consumers who are learning to love ugly fruits and vegetables. Makers of spaghetti sauce, jams and even beverages are excited about using fruits and veg that would otherwise get tossed. This is one area of the industry where reducing environmental impact and saving money go hand-in-hand.
The size of the opportunity
Food producers know what regular consumers do not: that a large proportion of the produce produced in the US is not ready for the spotlight of supermarket aisles. According to a study by the Center of Biological Diversity, 40% of US produce could be deemed “ugly” and if these items cannot find a market fit, they represent potentially billions of dollars landfill-bound. And that’s before you consider spoiled product from supermarkets and restaurants. So it’s no wonder entrepreneurs are eager to find market niches that can capitalize upon food waste.
Take Toast Beer, for example. This refreshing new option for environmentally conscious hop heads promises to donate 100% of profits to fight food waste and is brewed with bread that would otherwise be tossed. High end condiment purveyor Sir Kensington’s crafts a vegan mayo out of aquafaba, or the water that is left over from cooking chickpeas.
At the root of this new market segment for food waste is consumers’ increasing awareness of sustainability. Consumers are increasingly demanding that their goods have at least some ethical or “green” component. According to industry research, some $128.5 million is spent on sustainable fast-moving consumer goods each year.
And the industry growth numbers don’t lie: new startups who have their eye on making use of another man’s trash are poised for growth year over year.
How ACCUR Recruiting Works with the Food and Beverage Industry
As food companies embrace innovative tactics and processes, the need for talented executive talent grows. ACCUR Recruiting Services works with your business to find qualified individuals who can realize efficiencies and reduce waste throughout the operation.