Profits can sometimes come from the strangest of places. And now new Research from Future Marketing Insights has found that food waste is a thriving business, worth $46.7 billion in 2019 and has an expected CAGR of 5% for the next 10 years. 

There are many reasons why wasted foods have become so in demand. Fruits can be damaged and not deemed worth of retail sale but they still contain nutritional benefits. For example, a damaged mango contains high amounts of pectin, which can be utilized for jams and jellies.

Wasted food can also be affordably turned into a clean substitute for fossil fuels. New technology developed by researchers at the University of Waterloo engineers a process of natural fermentation to produce a biodegradable chemical that can be refined as a source of energy. In theory this chemical could replace petroleum-based chemicals in a host of plastic packagings.


Agraloop, a technology from Circular Systems turns food crop waste, such as sugar cane bark, hemp stalks and pineapple leaves, into low-cost natural fibers for clothing. Aeropowder turns surplus feathers, a byproduct of the poultry industry, into packaging insulators. And Regrained, a client of CASHMERE SYSTEMS, takes spent grain from the beer brewing process and turns it into protein bars.

The mind of the American consumer is certainly changing when it comes to how damaged products are perceived. A 2019 survey from The Harris Poll revealed that 62% of consumers said they would be somewhat comfortable eating "ugly produce." This is of course connected to increased consumer awareness of the importance of sustainability. So there is definitely an increased demand in the marketplace, which had led to a number of innovative startups selling products which are deemed “ugly”.  

Companies like Imperfect Produce and Full Harvest have recently arisen and provide customers with “imperfect” produce. These are items which may they have fallen below strict retail standards, be surplus stock, or be in the wrong size container or packaging. According to ReFED, food waste costs retailers about $18.2 billion a year, so it seems likely that upcycling will continue to breathe new life into food waste.  

Learn how CASHMERE SYSTEMS can impact the amount of waste your food and beverage company produces.