‘World’s first’ certification mark launched for upcycled foods

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Upcycled Food Association upcycled foods

In an industry first, a certification mark has been developed for upcycled ingredients in food and beverages.

The logo is the brainchild of the Upcycled Food Association (UFA), a not-for-profit setup by a group of upcycled food companies in 2019.

Last year, the UFA developed and published its first ever certification standard​. And now, the non-profit has unveiled what it claims to be the world’s first certification mark for upcycled foods.

“The upcycled certification seal is transformative for centralising the messaging around upcycled food,” ​said Caroline Cotto, UFA board president.

“We want consumers to see the mark and immediately understand not only what upcycled food is, but more importantly, the impact upcycled food has from a climate perspective.”

The fight against food waste

Food waste is a global concern. Six percent of human-cause greenhouse gas emissions come from food loss and waste, making food waste an important part of the solution to climate change.

In fact, according to climate solutions non-profit Project Drawdown, eliminating food waste is the single-most effective act people can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One way food waste can be tackled is by repurposing waste streams into foods for human consumption, otherwise known as upcycled food.

The UFA defines upcycled food as that which 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.

Image source: UFA

Aside from clear environmental benefits, the upcycled food industry is thought to have ‘enormous’ economic potential. In 2019, Future Market Insights valued the upcycled food industry at $46bn, with a predicted 5% compound annual growth rate.

The UFA is hoping to ‘quickly double’ the industry’s growth rate, we were told. And its newly developed seal is designed to help it get there.

Raising awareness

The new logo, designed by branding agency Modern Species, aims to provide consumers ‘clear guidance’ about the presence of upcycled food ingredients in food, beverages, cosmetics, pet food, personal care products, household cleaners, and dietary supplements.

It responds to consumer interest in combatting food waste, suggested the UFA. “Consumer education will be really important as the upcycled food economy continues to grow,” ​UFA Marketing Director Leah Graham told FoodNavigator.

“A 2021 study published in the journal ‘Food and Nutrition Sciences’ shows that 80% of consumers, once educated about upcycled foods, say they would seek upcycled food purchased. But unfortunately, only 10% of consumers are familiar with upcycled food products.

“One goal of the seal is to dramatically expand awareness about upcycled food – what it is, and why its presence in products matters for the environment and climate.”

The value of upcycling

UFA’s other ambition is for the logo to help increase business profit. As it stands, companies lose around $1trn a year to food waste.

UFA co-founder and CEO Turner Wyatt believes the seal and certification programme backing it will ‘simultaneously help solve the food waste problem, while saving businesses money’. “It also nurtures the creation of new businesses revolving around upcycled foods. Everybody wins.”

One of the UFA’s ‘biggest’ initiatives concerns promoting the value of upcycled ingredients in retail. “[We want] to show retailers the value of upcycled products to gain distribution in store”, ​Graham told this publication.

“Our goal is to have upcycled shelf sets, end caps, and signage all over the store. Additionally, we are working on a targeted consumer marketing campaign to roll out once the mark is on packages and on-shelf.”

Geographical expansion

In the US, where the UFA is headquartered, it is predicted the logo will have an impact on purchase decisions.

Together with food and beverage design firm Mattson, Drexel University undertook consumer research surrounding the creation of the seal. Drexel’s consumer research tested the various mark designs that led to the final seal, and Mattson’s research indicated that more than 50% of consumers had increased intent to buy Upcycled Certified foods when the mark was on packaging.

The UFA is kickstarting the rollout with US products and ingredients, but told this publication it has plans to expand the certification into Europe.

“Currently, UFA has members across 20 countries including Europe, so we know there is a need and interest in upcycled foods across the globe,” ​said Graham.

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