Upcycling and Eliminating Food Waste: Closing the Loop

Published on: Dec 13 2022

How can we transform our industry to ensure that we can produce enough food for current and future generations with our available resources? On our current pathway, we would need the resources of 3 – 4 planets to accommodate the growing global population by 2050.  Over 30% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributable to the food system, and food waste is one of the greatest sources of inefficiency in this food system.

Learn more about circular economy, upcycling, and reducing food waste with our infographics and on-demand webinar below.

If we as an industry could transform all of our food loss and waste, we would have enough food to feed the number of undernourished people in the world today twice over.

  • In 2021, global hunger numbers rose to as many as 828 million people (WHO 2022), reversing the trend on food waste would save enough food to feed 2 billion people
  • If food waste were a country, it would be the 3rd largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions.

There is a clear global paradox between the increasing amount of edible food that is lost throughout the supply chain and the scarcity of food resulting in hundreds of millions of people suffering from malnutrition. We as an industry and a society cannot afford to continue to allow food to go to waste on this scale, and the urgency of this task has become more apparent as recent global events reveal the fragility of our current food system.

Food waste can be upcycled, reduced, or even eliminated entirely, but where in the supply chain do we start and how do we take action?

Reducing food waste

Meat and bakery are two of the biggest contributors to food waste. Bread is the largest volume of food wasted, with 630 million slices wasted every day. Over 20% of meat is wasted, making it the largest contributor of waste when it comes to value and total carbon emissions.

This waste happens in distribution or retail settings like grocery stores, or in consumer homes. It’s estimated one half of consumer food waste could be prevented by extra shelf-life days, meaning that extending quality and safety of products, such as through improved preservation, is a key way to reduce this negative outcome.

Try Kerry’s Food Waste Estimator to see how much waste your home or business generates and the impact food waste reduction can have

Upcycling food waste

Upcycled food uses 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. For example, in the case study in this webinar, upcycling brewer’s spent grain prevents the CO2 equivalent of burning 1 lb of coal and 150 gallons of water (for each pound of brewer’s spent grain upcycled).

In this webinar, our experts answer:

  • Why is food waste such a critical issue to solve?
  • Where in the supply chain we should begin, and what are the first steps to prioritize?
  • How do we successfully upcycle or reduce a waste stream to create value? Learnings from an in-depth case study.

Our experts:

Juan Aguiriano, Group Head of Sustainability, Technology Ventures, Kerry Group

Juan Aguiriano is a corporate sustainability pioneer with over 25 years’ experience leading businesses and working at C-suite level to transform businesses and operations towards triple-bottom line. Currently, he is head of sustainability at the Kerry Group, the world leader in Taste and Nutrition. Juan has a B.A. in Economics and Social Sciences, Geneva, Switzerland, a M.A. in Economics and Business, at Austin, Texas, USA, and executive leadership and sustainability programs at IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland and IESE, Barcelona, Spain. He speaks five languages fluently.

Dan Kurzrock, Founder and CEO, Upcycled Foods, Inc.

Dan Kurzrock is the founder and CEO of Upcycled Foods, Inc., the pioneering upcycled food company. Upcycled Foods, Inc. is an ingredient supplier of delicious, versatile, better-for-you ingredients that reduce food waste including ReGrained SuperGrain+, an ingredient rich in protein and fiber created by upcycling brewer’s spent grain. Upcycled Foods, Inc. is a proudly certified Public Benefit Corporation and 1% For The Planet member. Dan earned his bachelors from UCLA, where underage homebrewing started it all, and holds an MBA in sustainable business from Presidio Graduate School.


Newsletter Banner

Our monthly newsletter

Get monthly updates about our newest expert-created content, upcoming webinars, and more.