“Food loss” refers to food that is discarded even though it was originally meant to be eaten. While about 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition, about 1.3 billion tons of food, or one-third of food production, is wasted every year. Many of you may have seen a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) that says, “In Japan, about one cup of food (about 136g) is thrown away every day”.
In August 2021, Starbucks Coffee Japan launched a project to reduce food loss by offering a 20% discount on some of its food menu items before closing. The project was covered by various news and social networking services and became a hot topic.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has also set a goal to “halve the amount of food loss from food-related businesses by 2030 compared to the FY2000 level,” and similar targets are being set for food loss from ordinary households. In order to achieve this goal, in addition to individual efforts, it has recently been emphasized that “society as a whole” should take action by sharing various opinions from viewpoints that transcend the positions of consumers, businesses, restaurants, and others.
Workshop to Consider Food Losses Held
Under such circumstances, a workshop to consider food loss was held on January 30, 2023 under the title of “~Re Born Food Project~ to think about ways to utilize food without throwing it away”. It is a place where companies with food loss utilization technologies, food-related companies considering utilization of food loss, and various people with issues regarding food waste gather to exchange opinions on upcycling food.
The workshop will be hosted by “Social Design Business Lab,” a general incorporated association that aims to connect individuals, companies, and society to solve social issues and create new businesses. “JSOL Corporation”, “fabula Inc.”, and “Koru Inc.” are participating as co-sponsors.
On the day of the workshop, a variety of people gathered at “hoops link tokyo,” a venue in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, including not only company representatives but also business people, engineers, educators, and students. Some participants even brought their babies. In a friendly atmosphere, Mr. Doi of the Social Design Business Laboratory navigated the way to the meeting and explained the flow of the event.
Learn about the latest examples of food upcycling
In the “Introduction of Food Loss Initiatives,” Mr. Machida, representative of “fabula Corporation,” introduced the company’s “new material made from 100% food waste”. This unique new material is made by drying out out-of-spec vegetables, peels and dregs from the processing process, and other food waste, turning them into a powder, placing them in a mold, and heat-compressing them. The product is 100% natural and biodegradable, with no adhesives or coagulants, and if broken, it can be made over again in the same process. Depending on the adjustments made during processing, the original color and aroma of the raw material can be retained.
Furthermore, depending on the ingredients used, it is possible to create materials strong enough to be used as building materials. For example, a material made from white meat waste is four times stronger than the bending strength of concrete. In the future, the company plans to use the non-food feature of the material to make it suitable for “eating”.
Mr. Fukumoto, representative of “Koru Inc.”, which is working with 30 partner companies to build a value chain of unused resources, introduced the “UP FOOD PROJECT” as the next initiative. The project aims to build a value chain of unused resources by discovering, adding value to, and optimally matching the value hidden in unused resources with partners who share the mission of “upcycling food to make it sustainable. fabula Corporation, which spoke earlier, is one of the UP FOOD PROJECT’s partners.
At this event, among the many initiatives, the development of upcycled products using collagen powder and liquid extracted from unused jellyfish, and upcycled food and menu development using powdered coffee rind called “cascara” were introduced. The UP FOOD PROJECT’s efforts were recognized with the “Best Bridge Builder Prize” and the “MMHG Upcycle Prize” in the “crQlr Awards 2022,” an award that invites projects and ideas for designing a circular economy from around the world. MMHG Upcycle Prize.
Ideas are discussed from each participant’s point of view
The next workshop started by dividing into teams. Team members shared ideas and opinions as they proceeded step by step. As the workshop proceeded with “Issues in the market penetration of food waste reuse,” and “Idea generation and sharing for the market penetration of food waste reuse,” participants were able to ask questions to the management staff who had joined each team if they had any unclear points, which made the process smooth. While “many of the team members had never met each other before”, they exchanged opinions and ideas in a friendly atmosphere while introducing themselves to each other.
Participants commented, “It was very refreshing to hear ideas from people in completely different industries from myself”. “I was worried that ‘I would not be able to express my ideas and opinions properly’, or that ‘I would not have enough knowledge compared to the other participants’. I think the workshop was very meaningful. It was worth coming from a long distance.”” I attended the event as a person in charge of a company, and I can honestly say that I had a good time because of the friendly atmosphere of the speakers and the venue as a whole. I would like to share the ideas that came out of the workshop within the company and make use of them in planning new measures”. Some of the participants also commented, “It was a very enjoyable event.”
In the latter half of the workshop, the participants discussed and exchanged opinions on the “Re Born Food Project,” a new business study project of “JSOL Corporation”, a corporate member of the Social Design Business Lab, Inc. The project aims to support food-related companies struggling with food waste disposal in solving their food loss problems through a variety of upcycling approaches. There is no one-size-fits-all technology for upcycling food products, and the methods of utilization vary depending on the food materials used as raw materials. The company is working with food-related companies to promote upcycling while educating the market about upcycling.
The event also featured “Grareco (graphic recording),” a real-time recording using text and illustrations by Koharu Ishihara, and after the workshop, many participants gathered in front of the artwork to take pictures. This event was held in a friendly atmosphere from start to finish, while opinions were actively exchanged. With regard to solving “food loss,” a crisis consumers are becoming increasingly aware of every day, individual efforts alone are limited in terms of the range of ideas and the scale of initiatives. Participation in such events is not only a chance to gain knowledge and hints, but also an opportunity to find partners who can work together to realize sustainability.
[Reference Site] Social Design Business Lab, a general incorporated association
[Reference site] fabula Inc.
[Reference site] UP FOOD PROJECT
[Reference site] JSOL Corporation
[Reference Site] Consumer Affairs Agency: Reference materials related to food loss reduction