By Heather Haddon and Lucy Craymer
Food and beverage companies are combing through their garbage
looking for potential profits.
Mondelez International Inc., Starbucks Corp. and Anheuser-Busch
InBev SA are among the industry giants developing foods and drinks
from foodstuffs like cocoa husks and spent brewing grain that they
and their suppliers have long discarded. They're hoping to attract
consumers who say they want companies to waste less and lessen
their environmental impact.
"Thinking creatively about food waste can allow for new business
development in the supply chain," says a spokeswoman for Starbucks,
which is reprocessing the outer layer of coffee beans into a
natural sweetener called cascara.
The market appears to be ripe. Nearly half of U.S. consumers say
they want to change their shopping habits to reduce their
environmental impact, according to market research firm Nielsen.
Sales of consumer goods marketed as sustainable, simple or organic
grew to some $130 billion in the U.S. last year, up 12% from 2015,
And there is plenty of raw material. U.S. farmers and
manufacturers create around 11 million tons of food waste a year,
according to ReFED, a nonprofit focused on reducing that
Big, established companies aren't the only ones that see the
potential here. More than 40 companies and organizations have
opened in the past five years to turn discarded foodstuffs into new
products, ReFED says. And those new products aren't limited to
food. Fabrics, for instance, also can be created from food
Eric Stief is the head of strategic partnerships at JPG
Resources, a consulting firm led by former food executives that is
helping Michigan's brewing industry turn spent grains into consumer
products. "For centuries this has been fed to pigs," he says. "We
see a better place for it."
Chips, jerky and beer
Most new products are still in the development or testing
stages. But some already are widely available, including -- for
now, at least -- Tyson Foods Inc.'s Yappah brand chicken crisps,
which are made from discards that Tyson gathers from its own
operations and from other companies. The chips come in flavors like
carrot curry, celery and India pale ale white cheddar, which is
made with spent grain from beer brewing. The chips are available
online from Tyson and on Amazon after a test run in a Chicago
supermarket last year. But Tyson has decided not to move forward
with the project currently for reasons including its overall
viability, says a Tyson spokeswoman, who declined to elaborate or
to comment on sales. Working with waste is still a focus for Tyson,
Mondelez, the maker of Cadbury and Toblerone chocolates, is
testing snacks made from parts of the cacao plant that aren't used
to produce chocolate. About 70% of a cacao fruit is discarded after
harvesting the cocoa bean within, producing 10 million tons of
waste a year, according to Mondelez. That includes the fruit's
sweet pulp, which the company is using to sweeten snacks under a
new brand called CaPao. Mondelez is testing demand for those
snacks, including a cacao fruit jerky and "smoothie balls" -- cacao
pulp rolled with nuts and seeds -- at farmers markets and at
retailers in Los Angeles, and plans to put them on sale more widely
in the U.S. this year.
Zurich-based Barry Callebaut Group, one of the world's leading
manufacturers of cocoa products, supplies the cacao ingredients for
Mondelez's CaPao products. The Swiss company also announced last
month that it is rolling out its own Cacaofruit Experience line of
food and beverages made with the whole cacao fruit. And it expects
to expand into a new type of chocolate available first to artisans
and chefs next year, and later to food manufacturers.
Kellogg Co. is working with craft brewer Seven Bro7hers Brewery
in Manchester, England, to ferment discolored and undercoated
cereal that would normally go to animal feed. Seven Bro7hers in
June introduced Cast Off Pale Ale, made from Rice Krispies, and
Sling It Out Stout, brewed with Coco Pops. The first run of those
beers sold out online within hours, a Kellogg spokeswoman says, and
more batches have since gone into production.
The world's biggest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, sells most of
the 1.4 million tons of spent grain it generates annually as cattle
feed for a low dollar amount. But it's exploring another use. Last
November the company donated 600 pounds of spent grain from its
brewery in Newark, N.J., to RISE Products, a startup in New York
that makes flour from that material. The brewer is considering
donating more grain to RISE as the startup expands sales of its
flours, an Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman says. Compared with the
overall quantity of spent grain the brewer produces, the
contribution to RISE is a negligible revenue loss, she says.
Companies are also turning food waste into fabrics, aiming to
win over consumers concerned about the wide use of plastics in
clothing and the heavy environmental toll associated with producing
other materials, from cotton to cashmere.
In northern Italy, Hannes Parth is blending plastic with peels,
cores and pulp from apple-juicing factories near his plant into a
leather-like fabric that is being made into shoes and handbags. The
apple waste results in a synthetic leather that uses 50% less
plastic than other varieties, Mr. Parth says. Actress Emma Watson
posted a photo of herself wearing a skirt made from the fabric on
Instagram in May.
Mr. Parth had been trying to produce glue from the fruit waste
when he hit on the formula for the fabric by accident.
"I was too tired to clean up and left a mess, and when I went to
the laboratory the next day it came away looking like leather," he
Carmen Hijosa founded her company, Ananas Anam, while developing
a formula for an alternative leather fabric called Piñatex made
from the leaves of pineapple plants in the Philippines that
traditionally are burned or left to rot after harvesting. The
company made twice as much of the fabric last year as in 2017 and
expects output to double again this year.
Piñatex has been used in products including Hugo Boss shoes and
a sustainable-clothing line at Hennes & Mauritz AB's
fast-fashion chain H&M. Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. used
Piñatex to cover footstools in what the company calls a "vegan
hotel room" at its Bankside property in London.
"For the farmers this is not just a solution to the problem of
waste that they have but it also brings a new income stream," says
Ms. Haddon is a Wall Street Journal reporter in Chicago and Ms.
Craymer is a Wall Street Journal reporter in Hong Kong. Email them
at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 09, 2019 19:19 ET (23:19 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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