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Waste Not
$1M Innovation Challenge to Fuel Upcycled Solutions to Pomegranate Waste

The Wonderful Company has chosen two winners to create value-added solutions from 50,000 annual tons of pomegranate husks, to reduce food waste and create a more circular supply chain.

Today, The Wonderful Company (TWC) — parent company to food and beverage brands including FIJI® Water, POM Wonderful®, Wonderful® Pistachios, Wonderful® Halos®, Wonderful® Seedless Lemons, Teleflora®, JUSTIN® Wines and more — announced the winners of its inaugural Wonderful Innovation Challenge, a platform designed to spur innovation across TWC and scale its sustainability efforts.

Through the Challenge, innovators were offered up to $1 million in funding and development resources for their environmentally friendly, pilot-ready solutions to transform the 50,000 tons of nutrient-dense pomegranate husks generated each year during production of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice into a value-added resource. To engage the greatest number of innovator applicants and ensure the winning innovations found the highest and best use for the husks, TWC partnered with ReFED — the national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system, as the Strategic Advisor and Managing Partner for the challenge.

“As America’s largest farmer of tree crops and the nation’s second-biggest produce company, we recognize that sustainability is crucial for the wellbeing of our planet as well as our products,” said Steve Swartz, EVP of strategy and technology at The Wonderful Company. “We are delighted to support the two innovators who each embody our mission to continually strive for a more sustainable world by embracing bold, innovative ideas.”

Work to utilize previously wasted byproducts of food and beverage production continues to proliferate, even creating a burgeoning industry of its own — Whole Foods declared upcycled food a Top 10 trend in 2021; and a 2019 Future Market report estimated the upcycled food market’s worth at $46.7 billion, with an expected CAGR of 5 percent over the next 10 years. The creation of the Upcycled Food Association; its recent certification; and the growing roster of upcycled food products and nutritious, value-added ingredients are testament to the trend’s staying power — and its potential to help mitigate not only food waste but the impacts of climate change.

Now, The Wonderful Company has jumped on board with the selection of two winning startups — out of nearly 400 applicants from across the globe and the innovation spectrum, with solutions ranging from sustainable textiles and bioplastics to alternative meat and bioenergy — to share a $1 million prize and help scaling their technologies to turn the previously discarded pomegranate husks into nutritious, new products:

  • BCD Bioscience — an emerging biotechnology spinout from the University of California, Davis creating ingredients for food, ag and biopharmaceutical applications. The startup is creating the world’s first library of oligosaccharides (a type of carbohydrate that does not increase blood glucose or insulin secretion, resulting in many potential benefits to human health) and developing them into health-boosting ingredients. Together with POM Wonderful, BCD believes it can produce a new class of high-value, soluble fiber ingredients that can be added to beverages to provide a source of dietary fiber with strong and differentiated prebiotic effects.

  • Enagon — a manufacturer of powdering, pulverization and drying equipment. From biochar to hemp to yellow peas, Enagon’s proprietary process re-envisions the way food waste and food-processing byproducts are dried and ground into powders. The company is committed to working with companies worldwide to help reduce waste and create a smaller footprint for humanity.

“The Wonderful Company is a great example of a business that understands the positive social, economic and environmental potential of converting what others might simply consider manufacturing byproducts or food waste into other value-added products,” said Alexandria Coari, VP of capital, innovation and engagement at ReFED. “By partnering on this Challenge with them, we were so excited to see the breakthrough, creative food waste solutions that came from the winners and all applicants. This Challenge underscores our collective commitment to growth that’s responsible to people and the planet.”

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