Investment and Innovation in the Upcycled Food Arena

The upcycled food industry is growing.

The upcycled food industry is growing.

The upcycled food market is booming, with a projected global market valuation of $94 billion by 2032 (Global Market Insights). Many OU kosher-certified companies are leveraging their manufacturing capacity to capitalize on this trend. By upcycling food waste into nutritious products, this industry reduces the environmental impact of landfills, which emit harmful toxins like methane. This sustainable approach resonates with modern consumers, who increasingly prioritize environmentally friendly products when making food choices.

A Desired Category

Realizing the burgeoning potential of using upcycled foods to reduce waste, Food & Beverage Insider reported that Barry Callebaut, Dole, Mondelez Foods and Del Monte, notable OU kosher-certified companies, have entered this sphere. These are all companies with environmentally focused operations.

Seed money is coming into the upcycled food sector.

Seed money is coming into the upcycled food sector.

Seed money is coming in, as investors see this as a viable business idea: to make revenue while reducing waste.

Cloud Loop Partners noted that, “Investors poured more than $10 billion in venture capital into agricultural technology (known as ‘ag tech’) solutions in 2021.” Agtech is a technology sector that’s bringing streamlined solutions to the food supply chain and digitizing the farmer model to reduce waste. This represents the waste economy which companies across the board are involved in, especially food companies.

Creating New Tastes

Besides the interest, investment and attraction that’s occurring in this area, there are unique tastes that are being introduced. For instance, in one case, an OU kosher-certified manufacturer supplied an upcycled food creation to another OU kosher-certified company which allowed it to create a new product line.

Sunopta produced a new upcycled protein powder for Seven Sundays which led to a new cereal line.

Sunopta produced a new upcycled protein powder for Seven Sundays leading to a new cereal line.

It involved OU kosher-certified Sunopta, who manufactured upcycled oat protein powder and supplied it to OU kosher-certified Seven Sundays, who used it to introduce a new line of oat protein cereals. About this synergetic collaboration, Lauren McNamara of SunOpta, said, “Partnering with a like-minded local company to create nutrient-dense cereal made with our upcycled oat protein aligns well with our core values and desire to help provide healthy products for consumers.” The founder of Seven Sundays, in remarking about this collaboration, said, “We are very excited to partner with SunOpta for ingredient sourcing of our new oat protein cereal line. The leftover product from producing oat milk has three times the protein, twice the fiber and significantly more nutrients compared to already nutritious whole rolled oats.”

A further development in the protein area came by way of OU kosher-certified Kerry Inc. As Baking reported, Kerry Inc. manufactures Upcycled Crisp, filled with protein and fiber, and they suppled it to Upcycled Foods Inc. John Kaufmann, of Kerry Inc., said about this collaboration, “Innovating new upcycled ingredient solutions with Upcycled Food Inc.’s leadership enables us to develop exciting new food items that live up to this vision and move us towards our goal of reaching over 2 billion people with sustainable nutrition solutions by 2030.”

Renewal Mill PBC is another OU kosher-certified company vested in the upcycled food movement. Their focus is more on flour. They offer Upcycled 1-to-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour, Upcycled Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix, Upcycled Oat Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix, Upcycled Organic Okara Flour and Upcycled Sugar Cookie Mix. They use such ingredients as Organic Okara Flour coming from the pulp that is left over from soymilk processing, white corn flour made from the leftovers of corn grit processing, green banana flour made from unripened green bananas and pineapple fiber from pulp that’s left over from processed pineapple juice.

The Nutrition Profile

Upcycled foods are full of protein and fiber.

Upcycled foods are full of protein and fiber.

By touching upon the types of upcycled foods we mentioned earlier, we can come to see the nutritional benefits. Categories such as bread, cheese, fruits and vegetables can all be repurposed. More examples include, stale bread that can be made into croutons, leftover cheese that can be upcycled into cheese powders, dried out fruits that can be used as ingredients in snack bars and leaves from vegetables that can create broths. All of this is happening with foods that are high in protein and fiber, making this an importance choice for general health.

Appealing to the Environmental Consumer

Consumers consider their environment when making food choices.

Consumers consider their environment when making food choices.

The environment matters when it comes to consumer food purchases. As noted by Food Insight, “Six in ten consumers seek out environmentally friendly products in at least some parts of their lives, with food and beverages the top category for doing so.” From a sustainable standpoint, the amount of food waste in the United States is staggering, and it’s affecting an environment that we all share. The USDA notes that “…food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply.” Upcycled food is addressing this problem with strength and therefore consumers would have a strong attraction to such products


There’s much movement in the upcycled food category. It’s attracting dollars and inspiring new tastes and product creations while being nutritionally potent. Best of all, it’s reducing food waste which in turn protects the environment.


Steven Genack
Steven Genack has worked at OU Kosher for more than ten years with a specialty in ingredients. He is an attorney and former editor of a newspaper. He has a wide array of interests including playing tennis, golf and basketball and reading biographies and memoirs.