Fruit Upcycling

What to Know About Fruit Upcycling

Most people probably don’t realize that food waste is a big problem in America. Based on data from the last decade, it is estimated that 30-40% of the food supply is wasted; that includes nearly half of all fruit and vegetable produce. This scale of food waste is happening at a time when about 10% of the United States population is experiencing some form of food insecurity. To counter this, a relatively new trend has emerged in many commercial food production facilities. This trend, known as upcycling, can play a major role in reducing food waste as well as providing other benefits to society.

What Is Upcycling?

The term upcycling can be used in the context of food or any production process that results in seemingly unusable byproducts. Also sometimes called “creative reuse,” the basic idea of upcycling is to transform waste or other unwanted leftover materials into new materials and products. In the realm of food production, upcycling usually means using ingredients that wouldn’t normally have gone to human consumption. Yet the goals of upcycling also include obtaining and using these ingredients in a sustainable and environmentally conscious way.

Fruit upcycling is of course one example of the process; harvested fruits that are misshapen or bruised traditionally don’t make it to grocery stores or restaurants. In the past, such fruits would be simply thrown away, but with upcycling they can be used in a variety of ways that don’t require aesthetic appeal. In fact, numerous companies have taken advantage of these innovations and have based their products around the reuse of certain fruits. A funky-looking banana or apple that might be passed over in the store can instead be used in a healthy snack bar.

But fruit upcycling isn’t just for whole, fresh fruits, though; the principles also apply to parts of the fruit that aren’t normally used. Parts like the peels, stems, and seeds still have fiber and other nutrients that have nutritional value. These leftover bits are further processed into a dried form or powder that can be used as an ingredient in granola bars, baked goods, seasoning blends, or even pet food products.

Benefits of Upcycling

Upcycling may be a trending concept, but it isn’t likely to go out of style any time soon. It’s also more than just a way to increase produce sales. According to the Upcycled Food Association, a nonprofit organization with an influential voice on this topic, upcycling is about a philosophy of doing more with less and using all of a resource rather than just part of it. In following these principles, we can access a number of different benefits:

  • Reduced food insecurity: Food insecurity spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic and has since come back down, but it remains a concern for a significant segment of the population. Upcycling decreases food waste, but it also reduces the strain on the resources used to grow and harvest food. This means more food can be produced with fewer resources, and that makes it cheaper and easier to obtain for families all along the socioeconomic spectrum.
  • Fewer greenhouse gasses: One aspect of food waste that isn’t widely understood is that wasted food rots in landfills and contributes to the global greenhouse gas problem. By its nature, upcycling means less organic matter being produced and decomposing in landfills, and that’s better for our collective fight against climate change.
  • Limits deforestation: A related benefit is due to the simple fact that wasting less food means using less land. In many places around the world, process problems that lead to food waste also end up requiring new farmland to increase output. Upcycling allows more food to be produced from the same amount of land, and that means fewer trees need to be cut down to make room.
  • Boosts business: Beyond the environmental and societal benefits, upcycling just makes sense from an economic perspective. The parts of produce that can’t be sold are generally thrown out, but transforming some or all of those parts into new products opens up new revenue streams that can transform any business.

Examples of Fruit Upcycling

More and more companies are discovering the value of upcycling, and they are driving the desire to do more with less in food production. Yet there are still some obstacles that remain, including the fact that upcycled fruit hasn’t gained widespread acceptance yet. Consumers are still somewhat unsure of what the process entails and how it will affect food quality and cost. Below are some examples of how fruit can be upcycled in both useful and tasty ways:

  • Jams and jellies: Many different fruits can be made into a jam or jelly, but the fruit being used doesn’t have to look as perfect as it would sitting in the produce section of a grocery store. The juice, pulp, and nutrients of fruits that might otherwise go to waste can easily be made into a jam or jelly.
  • Infused water: Fruits or fruit parts that don’t look acceptable for sale can be used to make flavored water. But even besides just the flavor, infusing water with fruit can also transfer some of the nutritional benefits of the fruit.
  • Smoothies: Smoothies are naturally a great way to use parts of fruits that can’t be used in other ways. Fruit purees or juices can definitely provide a fruity flavor, but the stem, rind, and other inedible parts can be made into a powder that can be used to add nutritional value to a smoothie. One example of this is the dehydrated cranberry and blueberry powder offered by Silva that can give any smoothie a fiber boost.
  • Energy bars: Energy bars and granola bars are a great use case for upcycled fruit because a huge variety of fruit ingredients can be incorporated into them. For instance, dehydrated apples can add nutritional value as either flakes, small bits, or a powder.
  • Seasoning mixes: One easy way to use upcycled materials is in pre-measured seasoning mixes. Since the mixes are already in powder form, a blend of fruits can be used to provide virtually any flavor combination.

Contact Silva for Premium Upcycled Ingredients

Upcycling may be a new trend, but it represents a much larger shift in how we use resources in food production. At Silva, we are proud to be at the cutting edge of this new movement and to continue providing high quality ingredients. We are eager to partner with you and help you deliver great products for your customers. If you’d like to learn more about Silva’s upcycling efforts or how you can partner with us, please contact us today to speak to a member of our team.