After spending some time exploring supermarkets and co-ops in the Portland, Oregon, area this week, as well as speaking with Pacific Northwesterners at the Oregon Dairy Industries annual meeting (wonderful to visit with so many of you!), I discovered that while plant-based and vegetarianism/veganism is common in this neck of the woods, the reason for most consumers to follow such a diet is because they believe it is better for the planet. And for many, current plant-based dairy and meat alternatives do not cut it, as they are overly processed and actually creating new waste streams. (Think almonds.) Enter plant-based dairy 2.0.
Plant-based dairy 2.0 focuses on upcycled ingredients. The easiest one is the inclusion of “ugly” fruits and vegetables. But there are other ingredients that may be sourced to be “upcycled,” and with all the supply chain connections dairy processors have, along with the manufacturing know-how, this is the way to enter the plant-based sector and provide a point of distinction.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, food waste accounts for approximately 6% of human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. And, with more than 30% of all food produced globally being lost or going to waste, that’s a big problem. Upcycled foods, and upcycled food ingredients, prevent this problem by creating new, high-quality products from surplus food.