Food waste remains a huge and costly problem, costing $2.6 trillion dollars in lost value globally each year. The U.S. retail food sector alone generates eight million tons of waste annually in distribution centers and stores, equivalent to about $18 billion a year in lost value for retailers.
In response, many large companies and entrepreneurs are responding by launching new products, initiatives and startups. Tyson Foods, Costco and Taylor Farms are among the latest companies to use products or facility improvements to do their part in the fight against food waste.
The Tyson Innovation Lab’s efforts have taken shape in the form of its first brand, ¡Yappah!. The brand name was inspired by a tradition in the South American Andes called “yapa,” which refers to the little something extra a merchant gives to a valued customer so that nothing gets wasted. The ¡Yappah! brand is designed to be an umbrella under which future products and product categories will be launched that help address major social and sustainability challenges related to food, starting with waste.
Protein Crisps crafted from vegetable and grain-based ingredients that might otherwise be left behind will be the first product under the ¡Yappah! brand. Tyson Foods provides chicken breast trim that is still full of flavor and protein to be ‘upcycled’ into the crisps and combines it with either vegetable puree leftover from juicing or spent grain from brewing Molson Coors beer to create the line’s four flavors. The Chicken Carrot- Curry and Chicken Celery- Mojo Flavored crisps are made with rescued veggie puree, while the Chicken IPA White Cheddar and Chicken- Shandy Beer Flavored crisps are made with rescued spent grain.
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“With the Protein Crisps we are taking ‘forgotten’ ingredients and crafting them into a delicious protein snack,” said Rizal Hamdallah, Head of Tyson Innovation Lab. “For the ¡Yappah! brand, sustainability is not an add-on, it’s our DNA. Fighting food waste is just the beginning.”
“People might not realize that vegetable pulp left behind during juicing is arguably better and richer tasting than the juice itself, and spent grain is surprisingly delicious. So, we had these amazing flavors to work with,” said Chef Kang Kuan, Executive Chef at Tyson Innovation Lab. “The result is a crispy snack that comes in four culinary-driven flavors that will appeal to all food lovers.”
The idea may be familiar to those following food waste innovation, thanks to brands such as Planetarians, which makes high-fiber, high-protein snacks for kids to enjoy, and Barnana and Wonky Drinks, which make their products from bananas and misshapen fruits and vegetables that might otherwise go to waste.
The Protein Crisps were launched through a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo that will end this month, followed by a 90-day pilot at one Chicago-based supermarket beginning in July.
“We think a chef-composed snack is a groundbreaking idea, but are cognizant that products fighting food waste are in their nascent stages,” said Santiago Proaño, Brand Lead, Tyson Innovation Lab. “Indiegogo is a great channel for testing since consumers on the platform are known for being early adopters of new to the world ideas and products. We want to connect directly with this enthusiastic community that cares about creating better food. Their reaction to the product, and their engagement with us, will help us get ready for what we hope will be a much broader rollout.”
Costco is rolling out avocados with double the ripe time from Apeel Sciences, a company creating products from plant-derived materials that help fresh food suppliers and retailers increase product quality and fight food waste. The Apeel Avocados are being supplied to Costco by the Del Rey Avocado Company.
Apeel adds a little extra peel to the surface of fresh produce that naturally reinforces the plant’s own peel and slows the rate of water loss and oxidation — the primary causes of spoilage. The company claims that Apeel is the only plant-derived post-harvest solution that creates an optimal microclimate inside of every piece of produce, which leads to improved quality, extended shelf life, and transportability — without requiring refrigeration, controlled atmosphere, or preservatives.
Meanwhile, Taylor Farms has become the first in the fresh food industry to achieve TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) Platinum certification. Its Gonzales, CA facility launched its zero waste program in April 2017, resulting in a 56 percent decrease in its landfill contribution and greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 30,923 metric tons of CO2e, equivalent to taking 6,510 cars off the road annually.
Spearheaded by Flewell, the Gonzales Green Team and employees worked together to reduce incoming materials, reuse existing materials when possible and recycle what remained throughout the facility, completing this initiative in 14 months. The Gonzales Green Team is led by director of operations Sam Chaidez and comprised of managers from departments across the facility including production, receiving, shipping, facilities, sanitation, purchasing and quality assurance.
A key element of this program focused on working upstream to eliminate wax carton from the supply chain. Led by the raw product procurement team, the group worked with Taylor Farms’ growing partners to move to 100 percent reusable bins and totes, eliminating all single use and wax cartons. To complete this project, Taylor Farms partnered with Measure to Improve, an organization that specializes in helping growers, shippers, packers and processors measure, improve, and promote sustainability efforts. Throughout the implementation, Measure to Improve provided onsite support, training and data tracking.