The problem of food waste
Food waste and by-products are generated in large quantities in the food industry. 38% of this waste occurs during food processing. It arises from a variety of sources including animal-derived (e.g. hooves, feathers, blood and whey) and vegetable-derived (e.g. peelings, seeds, pomace, starch and juice). The disposal of this large amount of waste is of detriment to the environment due to its poor biological stability and microbial decomposition, significant nutritional value and high concentration of organic compounds which may cause an adverse effect on the environment and human health. Food manufacturing industries have low profit margins and the additional impact of the processing cost of waste is a great disadvantage.
There is, therefore, a great motivation to reduce this waste. One form this can take is through the efficient use of by-products and their reintroduction into the manufacture of new products. This not only avoids landfill overuse but also provides a nutrient recycling opportunity by exploiting their often favourable textural or nutritional properties (polysaccharides, proteins, fats, fibres, flavour compounds, phytochemicals and bioactive compounds) and establishes a more efficient and sustainable food supply chain.
It’s not surprising that more and more companies are finding ways to use by-products to create new food or other products, which not only decreases waste and helps feed the increasing population, but also speaks to the values of consumers.
A low-cost solution to a global waste problem
In a linear economy we ‘take’ raw materials from the environment, ‘make’ something, ‘use’ or don’t use it, and finally ‘dispose’ of it. It’s becoming more obvious now that we need to adopt a new approach to avoid this wasteful situation that challenges economies across the globe. A circular approach – reuse, recycle, remake, redistribute – aims to ensure zero food waste in the food chain.
We have all heard the saying ‘One man’s waste is another man’s treasure’. With today’s environmental issues how incredible would it be if we could convert the waste material produced by the manufacture of one material in order to use it as an ingredient in another. What is useless to one company/product is potentially valuable to another. If food chains could realise the cost-saving incentive to map food waste scenarios and create by-product synergies with appropriate technologies, these circular strategies would redirect food waste issues into a valuable resource. Food waste could be redirected to generate renewable energy, enhance the soil as a fertiliser and feed animals, or better still create new food products. Enter “upcycling.” This is a relatively new word for the concept of creating new food products from food manufacturing by-products. For example, the maker of orange juice might previously have thrown away the orange peelings – now those peelings can be snapped up by another food manufacturer who can design them into a new cereal bar formulation and thereby creating a circular economy system. How about using brewer’s spent grain, spent expresso coffee granules or blackcurrant pomace in products such as cookies, muffins and bread?
Texture problems associated with foods from by-products
The large volume of low-cost by-products gives an economical advantage. Functional ingredients obtained from industrial by-products are a promising vehicle for the nutritional improvement of many food products and may provide health-promoting properties. However, the incorporation of by-product functional ingredients also influences technological and sensorial properties. The challenge is to replace ordinary ingredients with repurposed materials without the consumer noticing textural differences.
Texture can be altered by the addition of different or differing quanties of ingredients and must be measured when reformulating or modifying a manufacturing process. This is where texture analysis is the perfect tool to assess the effect of any textural change. There are already global leaders in the field such as Kelloggs and Tyson Foods who are actively finding ways to repurpose food waste materials and who are using texture analysis as a tool to measure the results of their product developments. New start-ups in this space will quickly realise that a tool to measure the texture of their finished product is key where texture is crucial to consumer success.
How texture analysis can help in new food development from upcycled food
Stable Micro Systems manufactures instruments that measure the tensile and compressional properties of raw ingredients, individual materials and finished products. It is important to measure the textural properties of food to ensure they match the expectations of a consumer. As with any manufacturing innovation the end-product must go through a quality control process to assess its mechanical (and sensorial) properties. A Texture Analyser is a crucial part of this procedure, giving a reliable way to test products by applying a choice of compression, tension, extrusion, adhesion, bending or cutting tests to measure their physical or textural properties e.g. firmness, stickiness, crispiness and compressibility, to name but a few.
A range of Texture Analysers are available varying in maximum force capacity and height options suited to the requirements of the application.
A vast range of probes and fixtures can be attached to the instruments depending upon the product/material to be tested.
Want to discuss texture analysis for upcycled foods?
Examples of how Texture Analysers have been applied
A large amount of research in this area of product development occurs in an academic context and often Texture Analysers are used for patent applications. Here we give you some examples of how Texture Analysers are actually being applied.
Upcycling in the baking and snack Industries
Other new upcycled food products
The future of food with upcycling
The process of the above patent and published work could serve as a model system for today's food processing operations to better transform their by-product streams into value-added, edible products.
By 2030 we will need two planets to meet the world’s demands and by 2050, three planets! It’s time to act. Finding solutions to provide nutritious food to nearly 10 billion people by 2050 without destroying our planet is one of the greatest challenges of our generation – and what better way than to intelligently repurpose our waste materials. Let us help you with the tools for the job!