The first mark certifying upcycled food in products, which will appear on upcycled products as early as August 2021, gives consumers a crucial tool to address urgent climate and environmental crises through purchasing power.
The Upcycled Food Association (UFA) introduced a new certification mark, providing consumers for the first time with clear guidance about the presence of upcycled food ingredients in food, beverages, cosmetics, pet food, personal care products, household cleaners and dietary supplements.
UFA is a non-profit focused on reducing food waste by growing the upcycled food economy. It was created in 2019 by upcycled food companies themselves, who recognized the power of collaboration in growing a successful food category and environmental movement.
According to Project Drawdown, eliminating food waste is the single-most effective act people can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the seal offers simple and concrete steps toward mitigating climate change.
“The upcycled certification seal is transformative for centralizing the messaging around upcycled food. We want consumers to see the mark and immediately understand not only what upcycled food is, but more importantly, the impact upcycled food has from a climate perspective,” said Caroline Cotto, UFA board president. “Purchasing upcycled food puts the power back into the hands of consumers to make a tangible reduction in global food loss.”
Research shows that consumers already are keen to reduce food waste. A 2021 study published in the journal Food and Nutrition Sciences shows that 80% of consumers, once educated about upcycled foods, say they would seek upcycled food purchases. Unfortunately, only 10% of consumers are familiar with upcycled food products. One goal of the seal is to dramatically expand awareness about upcycled food—what it is, and why its presence in products matters for the environment and climate.
“Food waste accounts for 6% of all human-caused greenhouse gases. Mitigating it counts as the single-most productive thing people can do to dial-back climate change,” said UFA co-founder and CEO Turner Wyatt. “In addition, businesses around the world lose $1 trillion a year to food waste. This seal and the certification program backing it will simultaneously help solve the food-waste problem while saving businesses money. It also nurtures the creation of new businesses revolving around upcycled foods. Everybody wins.”
The upcycled food industry has enormous economic potential. In 2019 Future Market Insights estimated the current value of the upcycled food industry at $46 billion, with a predicted 5% compound annual growth rate. With a broad consumer education campaign about the seal and food waste, the UFA hopes to quickly double the industry’s growth rate. Doing so could prevent more than 8.8 billion pounds of food waste and 28 billion pounds of carbon emissions by 2030, according to the UFA.
The UFA turned to mission-aligned branding agency Modern Species for the crafting of the seal. Both the UFA and Modern Species are members of 1% for the Planet; Modern Species used its annual contribution to the fund to donate its seal-crafting services to the UFA.
Brands can choose from a horizontal or vertical mark based on what fits best on a given product's package.
Additionally, Drexel University and food and beverage design and development firm Mattson contributed robust consumer research to the creation of the seal. Drexel’s consumer research tested the various mark designs that led to the final seal. Mattson’s research showed more than 50% of consumers had increased intent to buy Upcycled Certified foods when the mark was on packaging, already ranking better than other product certifications on the market.
The seal follows more than ome year of intense collaboration between multiple stakeholders to develop the Upcycled Certification Standard. The Standard offers a rigorous set of rules establishing definitions for upcycled ingredients and products, protocols for incorporating them into products, and the ability for certified companies to use the new consumer-facing upcycled food seal on products.
The Upcycled Certification Program is the world’s only third-party certification program for upcycled food ingredients and products. The Program’s intentions are strengthened by the credibility of the Upcycled Certification Standard and the expertise of the third-party certifier, Where Food Comes From. Open enrollment to apply for certification is slated to begin in June 2021.
“If the UFA is the landmark of the upcycled food movement, we intend this new logo to be our flag,” said Dan Kurzrock, co-founder and executive board officer of UFA and the Upcycled Food Association. “We can’t wait for certified products and ingredients around the world to fly it at full mast soon.”
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