As food and beverage brands look to combat food waste and build a more sustainable food system, upcycled ingredients are showing to be a promising initiative. Upcycling was a top trend at the 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show, and Whole Foods recently released it’s 2021 trend report, placing upcycled foods at #6. Mission-driven makers are turning to upcycled ingredients as the foundation of their brand’s purpose; an authentic way to build loyalty among eco-conscious shoppers.

Let’s explore the trending ingredients used in upcycled products, which brands are doing it, and how you might be able to apply it to your business model.

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What is upcycling?

When applied to food and beverage, upcycling is the process of taking discarded ingredients — such as broccoli stems, bruised fruit, strangely shaped tomatoes, or leftover pulp from juicing produce — and using them to make high-quality products.

What are some of the top upcycled ingredients?

  • Sweet Potato
  • Whey
  • Grains (Rye, Barley, etc.)
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Chickpea
  • Oilseeds (Pumpkin, rapeseed, camelina)
  • “Ugly” Fruits
  • Banana

Who’s doing it?

Renewal Mill Baking Mixes

Upcycled baking mixes, cookies and more made using okara flour.

The Ugly Company

Upcycled, dehydrated  fruit snacks including: kiwi, peaches, pears and more.


Protein beverages made using surplus whey from the female cow.

White Mustache Yogurt 

Probiotic beverages made using surplus fruit and whey, a biproduct from their yogurt.

Pipcorn Crackers

Crackers made using extra heirloom corn flour from Pipcorn’s cheese balls.


Flavored water made using produce that does not meet aesthetic standards.

Ulli’s Oil Mill

Plant-based protein powder made with spent oilseeds, which are used to make Ulli’s oils.

Pulp Pantry Tortilla Chips

Flavored tortilla chips made using vegetable juice pulp.

Scraps Frozen Pizza

Frozen pizzas made using food scraps and upcycled flour.

Spudsy Sweet Potato Puffs

Snack puffs made using sweet potatoes that would otherwise be discarded.


Protein bars and snacks made using upcycled grains from brewed beer.


Dehydrated banana snacks and chips made using “ugly” bananas from Latin American farmers.

Where can I learn more?

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