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How Upcycled Product Innovation Can Help Grocers Address Their Sustainability Priorities In 2023



How upcycled product innovation can help grocers address their sustainability priorities in 2023


As sustainability becomes an increasingly important focus for consumers and businesses alike, grocery retailers are looking for ways to reduce waste and make their operations more sustainable. According to a recent study by Supermarket News, 71% grocers listed sustainability as a key priority for 2023. 83% of grocers cited waste reduction as their primary sustainability focus. One of the key initiatives in this regard is food waste , along with sourcing locally and improving energy efficiency.


Upcycling food, or using ingredients that might otherwise be discarded, is emerging as a key solution to address the issue of food waste. By incorporating “imperfect or surplus produce” or “upcycled ingredients” into private label products, retailers can create more sustainable products and reduce their environmental footprint. This approach not only helps reduce food waste but also provides an opportunity for retailers to engage with consumers and suppliers.

Private label products offer a unique opportunity for retailers to innovate with upcycled ingredients and differentiate themselves with more sustainable products. For instance, Kroger’s “Waste Less” program uses upcycled ingredients to create private label soups, salsa, and smoothies. Similarly, Whole Foods’ “Waste Not” program uses upcycled ingredients to create private label juices and frozen fruits. These private label initiatives help reduce food waste while also offering customers a more sustainable and affordable option.


The benefits of upcycled food initiatives extend beyond waste reduction. By creating new products with upcycled ingredients, retailers can also develop a more resilient supply chain that is less vulnerable to supply chain disruptions by finding supply chains that are being overlooked. Upcycled food initiatives also provide open innovation opportunities for collaboration with suppliers and manufacturers.


To drive the success of upcycled food initiatives, grocery retailers also have the opportunity to engage consumers and educate them on the benefits of purchasing products that prioritize upcycling food and reducing waste. By supporting private label products that use upcycled ingredients, customers can support a more sustainable food system and reduce their environmental footprint. Engaging with consumers through packaging design, social media marketing campaigns and in-store promotions can help raise awareness and drive sales of upcycled products.


As grocery retailers look to address their sustainability priorities for 2023 and beyond, upcycling food presents a unique opportunity to reduce waste and create value. 


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