The Lowdown on Upcycled Foods

salvage grocery store food shopping

According to the USDA, food waste is estimated to represent 30-40 percent of the food supply each year, which has devastating consequences for people and the planet. Millions of people globally don't get enough food to eat each day, while rotting food in landfills is a major producer of greenhouse gas emissions.

What are Upcycled Foods?

Upcycled food products source some of their ingredients from surplus food and/or food manufacturing byproducts which would have previously gone to waste. Certified upcycled foods contain ingredients which (a) would not normally be consumed by humans, (b) are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and (c) have a positive impact on the environment.


Upcycled foods contain ingredients which would not normally be consumed by humans


Environmental Benefit of Upcycled Foods

The primary environmental benefit of upcycled foods is that greenhouse gases are reduced by lessening the amount of food waste going to landfills. It's estimated that if 50–75 percent of food waste is reduced by 2050, up to 26 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions could be avoided.

Examples of Upcycled Foods

A hallmark of many upcycled foods is that new foods are created from crops that have already been cultivated, harvested, and used once, but still have more to offer. Forward thinking entrepeneurs are transforming food byproducts and scraps into unique and often very nutritious products for human or pet consumption, creating new sources of protein, other nutrients and fiber in the process.


... new foods are created from crops that have already been cultivated, harvested, and used once, but still have more to offer


Some examples of upcycled foods:

🥕Banana chips, potato chips and plantain chips made from "off-grade" fruits and vegetables.
🥕Snack chips made from vegetable pulp left over from juicing.
🥕Butternut squash seeds made into cooking oil.
🥕Flatbreads and chips made from spent beer brewing grains.
🥕Vegetable broth concentrate made from upcycled, fresh-cut vegetable remnants.
🥕Pet treats made from "misfit" and surplus produce.

By choosing upcycled, you’re reducing global food waste and saving valuable natural resources!


How Del Monte Foods is Leading the Way in Upcycling

Del Monte Upcycle Green Beans

A food doesn't have to be new to qualify as being upcycled. Del Monte Foods' Blue Lake Petite Cut and Blue Lake Farmhouse Cut Green Beans are made with 100% upcycled and sustainably grown green beans.

🍑In the year 2020, Del Monte estimates that it re-directed approximately 600,000 pounds of green beans that would have otherwise been fed to animals or turned into compost because they were too short, or were miscut at the end when the stem tips were removed.
🍑During 2020 and 2021, Del Monte diverted 10 million pounds of peach pieces through a partnership with Feeding America. Small cuts of peaches that previously went to waste through the sliced peach production process became canned peach chips and were provided to those facing food insecurity.
🍑Excess pineapple juice from canned pineapple processing gets repurposed into Del Monte® Fruit Infusions.
🍑Del Monte is testing ways to repurpose previously unused excess syrup from their boba product lines into new products.

Del Monte Upcycled Green Beans

"We're thrilled to support the upcycled food movement. By reincorporating nutritious ingredients into our products, we can create delicious food that is beneficial to people and the earth," said Molly Laverty, Senior Manager of Environmental & Social Governance of Del Monte Foods. "Preventing food waste is one of the most important ways we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and continue to grow good for our communities, the planet and all those who depend on us for healthy, nourishing foods." Read the full Del Monte press release.

As food shoppers become more aware of the food waste problem, Del Monte is one of the many food companies looking to curtail product waste and find new ways to use foods that would otherwise be thrown away. Proponents of upcycling say the practice could help reduce the more than 70 billion tons of greenhouse gases generated by food loss and waste, while creating new jobs and innovative products.

As consumers become more aware of sustainability, hunger and the environment, few areas are likely to benefit more than upcycled foods.


Upcycled Foods Infographic