What’s old is new again; How upcycled ingredients support a circular economy
By Jane Dummer
Upcycling is a relatively new term for an old concept of using food processing by-products to generate new food products. Years ago, we made sausages from meat scraps and jams from overripe fruit. Currently, the Upcycled Food Associations defines upcycled foods as those that use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured, and produced using verifiable supply chains and have a positive impact on the environment.
Many upcycled innovations in baking are possible due to advances in food technology including milling. Okara flour is made from pulp generated during soy beverage production. Coffee cherry is a by-product of the coffee bean harvesting. Spent grains are a nutrition leftover from the beer brewing process.
Cher Mereweather, President & CEO, Provision Coalition Inc. describes, “Familiarity with the term upcycled has grown over the past five years thanks to action taken by the major food and retail brands. According to data from Upcycledfood.org, 60 per cent of Canadians are interested in purchasing upcycled products. Due to the complexity of the food and beverage supply chain, the industry hasn’t moved as fast as other sectors, but consumers are ready for it. We’re currently working with Vision Bakeries based in Georgetown, Ontario who has successfully taken a waste by-product (okara) from a tofu manufacturing facility in Toronto and produced okara flour, which they are using to create muffins and cupcakes. Okara flour is gluten-free with an excellent source of fibre and has a similar flavour profile as white flour.”
Carole Widmayer SVP Marketing & Sales, The Coffee Cherry Co. explains, “Commercial bakeries are increasingly familiar with upcycled ingredients, particularly in the last two to three years as more ingredients have been introduced to the industry. Many commercial bakeries are evaluating Coffee Cherry for inclusion in breads, cookies, and other baked goods. It is created by dehydrating skin and pulp of the fruit that is the by-product, when coffee cherries are processed to harvest the green coffee beans. It’s dehydrated using a proprietary process that cleans the fruit and dries it to a specified level, ensuring the ingredient is 100 per cent food safe. The dehydrated ingredient is finished either by milling it into a fine flour, or a coarse flake. Both are used in baking. The challenge is educating bakeries on the nutritional and functional benefits of these upcycled ingredients, and how to incorporate the ingredients effectively into their products. Fancy Pants Cookies are one of the newest products on the market incorporating Coffee Cherry. It can also be seen in Marigold Keto Brownie Fat Bombs.”
Dan Kurzrock, CEO, ReGrained describes, “ReGrained SuperGrain+® is an ingredient made from upcycled brewers’ spent grain (BSG) using our patented process. ReGrained works with brewery partners to rescue the grain after they have extracted the sugars needed to make beer. Our unique technology unlocks the remaining fibre, protein, and other nutrients in BSG, while preserving its flavour, and converts the by-product into ingredient flour. ReGrained SuperGrain+® delivers a minimum of 3.5-times the fibre and 2-times the protein of whole grain flours. It also contains prebiotics, which support healthy digestion. In baking applications, it functionally performs like a dark rye and provides a natural colour. SuperGrain+® does not add functional gluten and offers both water holding and oil binding capacity. DOUGHP is an edible and bakeable cookie dough brand working with ReGrained’s Upcycled Food Lab to develop their Beast Mode Brownie flavour. This limited release item incorporates SuperGrain+® into a sweet indulgence with 6-times the fibre and 2-times the protein than conventional flours. This flavour launched in April 2021 and remains one of their best-sellers.”
All great news. The upcycled ingredient opportunity offers bakeries to innovate and bring delicious, nutritious products to market while supporting a circular economy. / BJ
Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America.