The Value of Upcycled Ingredients

by | Mar 9, 2023 | Industry News

Pet food and treat processors have been using upcycled ingredients before it was trendy, especially rendered meat byproducts. Upcycled foods come from ingredients that would have otherwise ended up going to waste. Upcycling is all about keeping nutritious foods out of the trash and giving them a second chance to be consumed. Pet food processors are exploring more options for upcycled ingredients, expanding beyond just meat byproducts.

Formed in 2019, the Upcycled Food Association (UFA) coined the term “upcycled food” in 2020 and agreed that the term meant “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.” Since its launch, UFA has certified around 236 upcycled ingredients, many of which are in pet food applications. “Upcycled Certification has been even more successful than we imagined,” said Turner Wyatt, co-founder and former CEO of the UFA. “Every year, almost 1 billion lbs of food waste is prevented by upcycling products around the world. This number will continue to grow as consumer demand for upcycled products increases.”

Phelps Pet Products was the first dog treat manufacturer to become a member of the UFA and the first to produce dog treats with the certified seal. “We work with UFA as well as several vendors to source upcycled ingredients, including sweet potatoes, apples, blueberries, cranberries, flaxseed, chia, etc.,” said Rick Ruffolo, president and CEO of Phelps Pet Products. “We ‘rescue’ these nutritious ingredients and put them to work in our customized jerky dog treat recipes. This helps eliminate food waste in the overall supply chain.” It doesn’t matter if the fruit is bruised or a potato is disfigured, Phelps Pet Products ensures that everything goes through the mixer. Through their sustainability efforts, the pet food manufacturer hopes to inspire other companies to do similar things in their industry. 

Phelps Pet Products isn’t the only pet food manufacturer using upcycled ingredients. Chippin, a sustainable pet food company on a mission to reduce their eco “pawprint”, uses U.S. grown sweet potatoes that are too disfigured for human food sales. Dog treats from Leashless Lab are baked with barley from breweries after the carbohydrates and gluten are removed to make beer, keeping this high-protein and high-fiber grain out of landfills. Portland Pet Food Co. uses five upcycled ingredients – bacon, eggshells, salmon, barely, and sweet potato in its biscuits, equating to 68,600 lbs of upcycled ingredients in the past year. 

At Graceland Fruit, sustainability and the environment are always in mind. In fact, in 2022, Graceland Fruit diverted over ONE MILLION pounds of fruit waste from the landfill, equal to 27 truckloads! The fruit waste was diverted to a digester helping to heat homes along the west coast of Michigan. Graceland Fruit is committed to practices that protect the environment in the communities we operate in. Areas of focus include organic agriculture and processing, water stewardship, energy consumption, and waste reduction. Additionally, all of our growers follow good agricultural practices including energy reduction, water management, and waste reduction. Click here to learn more about our commitment to environmental sustainability.


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