Maximize Product Utilization
Key Action Area
Maximize Product Utilization
Maximize Product Utilization
Waste, in large part, can be driven by not using food products in their entirety – in fact, byproducts and production line waste caused 90% of all surplus food among Manufacturers in 2021. Yet just because it is called “waste” does not mean it has no value.
"Maximizing product utilization" means designing facilities, operations, and menus to use as much of each product as possible. It also means rethinking the concept of waste by turning surplus and byproducts into food products through upcycling, which has opened new doors for innovation and investment. Solutions in this action area focus on using ingredients and products in their entirety, preventing waste through minimizing losses on a production line, extending product life, designing menus to use all product parts, and more. Some of this can be implemented through basic staff training, while other solutions involve the development of new food processing equipment.
Maximizing product utilization seeks new opportunities to create profit through repurposing and creatively repackaging existing products into new forms, thus finding greater value in items or parts usually deemed worthless. Internally, businesses can invest to make operational changes or purchase equipment that will provide returns over time – which is why greater than 60% of the capital needed to implement solutions in this action area stems from Corporate Finance and Spending. Externally, innovators have opportunities to capitalize on the gaps within the upcycling field, while Private Equity and Venture investors should seek opportunities to invest or acquire.
Key Indicators (Annual)
Interventions which are either not clearly definable as a specific solution, such as incremental improvement of existing common processes, or solutions that have already been implemented by a sufficiently large number of stakeholders such that there is little additional opportunity for them to address food waste that is still happening in the U.S. today.
Discount Meal Plates
Inventory management technique to offer discounted meals with ingredients or leftover dishes from previous service.
Inventory management technique to offer meals with ingredients or leftover dishes from previous service to staff; provides additional benefit to employees.
Small and Versatile Menus
Menu design with the goals of (1) offering fewer options and (2) utilizing ingredients across various menu items, minimizing the variety of items that kitchens must carry to prepare all dishes.
Larger Quantities for Take-Home
Offering larger quantities of items for sale for at-home consumption.
Precision cooking method, used in fast casual up to fine dining, in which food is prepared to an exact temperature in a controlled environment, typically under vacuum or in a food-safe sealed container.
- Operational Changes Require Corporate Capital - These solutions are corporate decisions with a likelihood to result in net economic benefit; therefore investment in this action area would be most appropriate in the form of Corporate Finance and Spending. Corporations have shown recent interest in these solutions as an opportunity to innovate product development. As solutions, such as Upcycling, continue to develop as a category, it may attract strategic acquisitions from solutions adopters.
- Private Equity and Venture Capital Align with Needs for Technology-Based Solutions - High-capital expenditure solutions (high upfront) require an interesting mix of investors, primarily Private Equity, which would find the hard assets appealing due to the ability to finance with debt. Venture Capital theoretically could be interested in these types of organizations should there be more technology-enabled business models (e.g., software-guiding manufacturing line optimization).
- Public and Private Funds for Innovative Packaging and Processing - Although active and intelligent packaging and manufacturing line optimization are perceived to be mature, continued innovation relating to product upcycling and packaging materials still needs to occur. These business models are most appropriately financed with Venture Capital and Research Grants.
Annual Investment Needed
Government Grants - $136.5M
Non-Government Grants - $136.5M
Impact-First Investments - $136.5M
Venture Capital - $409.6M
Private Equity - $496.8M
Corporate Finance & Spending- $2.0B
- Support Research and Development of Upcycled Foods - [Federal, State, Local; Legislative, Regulatory] Creating new food products out of what are currently byproducts can require significant research and development for both the products themselves as well as the equipment to create them. Federal, state, and local governments can provide grants for testing out new technologies, procedures or techniques to utilize upcycled ingredients, and marketing and supply chain needs.
- Require Standardized Date Labels - [Federal, State; Legislative, Regulatory] Voluntary initiatives in the U.S. have coalesced around “BEST if Used By” as the term for date labels indicating food’s peak quality and “USE By” for labels intended to indicate safety. This standardization only works, however, if there is full adoption across the industry. To ensure that occurs, Congress (or state governments) could require standardization by limiting date labeling language on all products to those two options. In addition, governments could expressly permit the donation of food after the peak quality date and promote consumer education and awareness on the meaning of date labels.
- Personalized Employee Training and Incentives - Food businesses should audit staff knowledge of food safety, handling, storage, and recovery protocols to identify educational gaps and opportunities for training or incentive programs that will address the specific needs.
- Supply Chain Input Coordination - Food manufacturers and foodservice companies should implement data-enabled coordination and transparency platforms to consolidate inputs and support processes for upcycling products, minimizing waste, and creating new options for profit.
- Stimulate Cultural and Behavior Change - Food businesses that implement waste reduction solutions should communicate progress updates, waste reduction, and other results to contribute to the collective cultural and behavioral shift that emphasizes improved food utilization, waste reduction, and food management skills.
- Partner with Experts - Food businesses should partner with topical experts and academic researchers to evaluate and improve current handling, storage, repurposing, and packaging protocols and then share findings in order to standardize training curriculums.
- Upcycling R&D - Dedicated research and development is needed for upcycling of more byproducts and unused food streams.
- Instant Pathogen Testing - Low-cost instant pathogen testing is needed to enable businesses to directly evaluate the safety of their food, ultimately moving away from broad rules that require food to be discarded according to generic regulated time and temperature food safety protocols.
- Adaptable Packaging - Flexible packaging solutions that enable transferability between supply chains are needed, so that food that can’t be sold to food service could instead be sold into retail, and vice versa.
Here's How You Can Reduce Food Waste
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