5 start-ups giving food waste a second chance

Start-ups turn waste into opportunity

Global food waste is a problem weighing 1.3 billion tons each year. One third of all the food produced never gets eaten, a fact that has launched a food rescue movement. How are inventive companies shaping solutions to the waste problem?

A version of this article was previously posted on Rabobank.com on December 12, 2018.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. With growing awareness of the global food waste problem, governments, NGOs and businesses small and large are looking hard at the food we don’t consume and finding opportunities . They know there is value to be found in waste streams all along the supply chain. Innovative start-ups are treasuring everything from the byproducts from beer brewing to discarded coffee cherries to ‘ugly’ fruit.

These are some of our favorite food businesses transforming waste products in smart and surprising ways.

The cherry on top: Saving a coffee byproduct

Coffee Flour

What happens to the fruit from coffee cherries once the beans have been extracted? Billions of kilos of coffee cherries are discarded every year. Coffee Flour has taken a waste product and turned it into a new, nutritious ingredient: a finely ground flour for cooking and baking. What’s more? The company pays farmers for their cherry waste, creating new jobs.

Brewing up a sustainable snack from beer


ReGrained is turning the residual grain from beer making – traditionally used for cattle feed – into snack bars. “There are breweries and bakeries all over the world and we hope to bridge the two. We want to make this supergrain a staple foodstuff,” says Co-founder Daniel Kurzrock.

The juice bar that relies on rejects

Jacob’s Juice

Apples, lemons, cucumbers and other misshapen produce that are too big or too ugly for the supermarket end up on the compost heap. Jacob’s Juice is the first no-waste juice bar in Amsterdam, where they squeeze market rejects into desirable drinks.

Jobs from food waste: An idea worth spreading


Fruit spreads and granolas that combat food waste and improve living conditions? “Yes we can!” says Yespers , a Dutch company envisioning ways to create a socially and environmentally just food system. Yespers uses orphaned bananas or visibly damaged fruits sourced from developing countries for their spreads.

The ketchup that smashes tomato waste

The Ketchup Project

In Kenya, 40 percent of tomatoes are wasted. The Ketchup Project reduces food waste and generates more income for smallholder farmers by drying tomatoes for ketchup. The goal is to make a bottled, healthy product out of Kenyan tomato and mango crops that would otherwise go to waste.