Unavoidable Waste, Unavoidable Profit

By Cher Mereweather

Two thirds of the food waste we produce in this country cannot be prevented. But it can be upcycled.

Let me start this blog with a stat.


According to Second Harvest’s 2019 The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste, 58% of food produced in this country is lost or wasted.


With 43% of this food waste occurring in processing and manufacturing, many Canadian food and beverage companies are aware of the need to reduce this absurdly high figure and are, thankfully, hard at work implementing prevention strategies that will return this food back to the system. This is important work.


But it leads me to another stat.


Two thirds of this food waste can neither be prevented, nor directly consumed.


Which means that even if every single Canadian company prevented every single tonne of waste and returned every single tonne of food that could still be eaten back to the system, we would still have 24.3 million tonnes of food waste.


And that’s not just a problem, it’s a huge opportunity.


And it’s likely costing your company a lot of money each year.


This “unavoidable” waste is mostly by-products: pulp from juicing, grains from brewing, soya residues from tofu production etc., and while some firms are diverting to livestock feed, compost or anaerobic digestion, the vast majority of this waste still ends up in landfill.


And yet, these by-products have real nutritional value. And if they can be seen as ingredients for other products, they can also have commercial value.


Enter a new food category that is emerging to address this opportunity: Upcycled Food.


Already estimated to be valued at more than CAD$46 billion, Upcycled Food has been named by FoodBev Media as one of the top five food trends in 2021, with strong consumer demand and data showing that 60% of Canadians are interested in purchasing such products.


Upcycling has real potential to help deal with the 24.3 million metric tonnes of “unavoidable” food waste generated in this country every year. This is why we have created the Re(Purpose) Network - to help accelerate the growth of Upcycling food in Canada.


The Re(Purpose) Network is a unique, one-stop shop for unavoidable food waste commercialization.

It is part of the ground-breaking Our Food Future initiative led by the City of Guelph and the County of Wellington. Launching later this spring, the Re(Purpose) Network will bring together all of the key functions and resources that you need to turn your unavoidable waste streams into new ingredients, products and revenue streams, in one virtual and easily accessible platform.


We will leverage new technology to enable you to identify and quantify your unavoidable waste opportunity. We will bring in an expert team of nutritionists, economists and other food industry experts who can help deliver it for you.


And once a market-ready solution is identified, we will connect you back into the Our Food Future Circular Food Waste Marketplace to find a manufacturer who can commercialize it. And we will also provide support to these manufacturers to bring these new commercialized, upcycled products to market, thus securing the new economic value chain.


Work has been ongoing on this project for several months and you can imagine that I am hugely excited to launch it. To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing else like it in North America and I’m really proud that Canadian food and beverage companies like yours will be the first to demonstrate how it can power the upcycling revolution.


We’ve begun piloting work already with a number of partners. Sunrise Soya, Canada’s largest tofu producer is working with the Re(Purpose) Network, with support from Grain Farmers of Ontario, to find new value streams for their tofu whey and okara by-products.


Avenues being explored include creating okara flour for baking and for the creation of noodle products (with two disruptive food companies from Toronto: Abokichi and Vision Bakeries), a soya-based cream liqueur, similar to Baileys but vegan and lactose free (with Fifth Bean) and creating a new value chain involving insect protein and tilapia.


Interest in the Re(Purpose) Network is growing quickly, and it will be featured in an upcoming PC Insiders series in partnership with Motioneer Productions.  


Two thirds of the food waste we produce in this country cannot be prevented. But it can be upcycled. The Re(Purpose) Network exists to mainstream these opportunities for every food and beverage company in Canada. If you want to be among the first to realize the benefits, then reach out.


Cher Mereweather

President & CEO

C 519.803.6395

Tags: Food and Beverage, Food Trends, Food Waste

Subscribe to Provision Coalition

Enjoy access to industry news, articles, events, trends and more!