Summer Fancy Food Show

Upcycled Certified helps drive sales of snacks, juices, ingredients double & triple digits

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fancy Food Show

Upcycling would-be wasted food or side streams from manufacturing into nutritious and sustainable products for human consumption continues to gain traction with more companies calling out the claim and sales of Upcycled Certified products overall growing 39.9% year-over-year to $42 million in 2023 and units increasing 22% in the same period.

Within food and beverage, sales of Upcycled Certified products surged double and triple digits in 2023, with standout categories including snacks, juices and ingredients.

“Looking back at when Upcycled Certified first hit the market​, that was several years ago, $100,000 in sales back in those early days of 2021, and now [SPINS] has measured up to $20 million across” categories for products with the certification, Upcycled Food Association CEO Amanda Oenbring told FoodNavigator-USA at the Summer Fancy Food Show last month.

She explained sales of snacks and beverages have been on the “leading edge of that growth,” with SPINS data showing sales of shelf stable Certified Upcycled chips, pretzels and snacks increased 153.5% to $10 million in the 52 weeks ending Nov. 5. Likewise, SPINS reported Certified Upcycled shelf stable nuts and trail mix and dried fruit increased 77.7% to $3.7 million in the same period, and Certified Upcycled refrigerated juices increased 10% to $13 million.

“Ingredients are poised to become the next driving edge. Small changes that you can make within current formulations to bring in upcycled ingredients to then becoming an upcycled product,” added Oenbring.

Addition of upcycling to EPA’s Wasted Food Scale opens doors

Behind this uptick is a shift in how the government categorizes upcycling and a significant increase in consumer awareness of the practice and certification, which the Upcycled Food Association hopes to drive further through a far-reaching education campaign that kicked off last month.

Oenbring described EPA’s decision to add upcycling to the Wasted Food Scale as an “acknowledgment of what a key solution upcycling is today” and its potential in innovation and new product development.

She also noted more consumers are aware of Upcycled Certified, with data from UFA showing 40% of shoppers in 2021 knew about upcycling and it factored into their purchase decisions.

UFA is building on this foundation with the launch in June of Upcycled Food Month, during which the trade group provided brands and retailers with toolkits and material to drive awareness of upcycled food, which should in turn drive additional sales.

Looking ahead to 2025, Oenbring said, UFA will explore ways to “keep deepening this strategy, go deeper into helping support retailers … [and] how they can be celebrating that at the point of purchase and in stores.”

She added the best way for interested stakeholders to help UFA further its mission and drive sales of upcycled products is to become a member, which will also provide them with networking opportunities and additional tools to support innovation and advertising.

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