Sustainable food has always been a win-win in our point of view. What could be better than nutritious, high-quality food that’s also good for the planet? The sustainable food sector has been surprising us nonstop over recent years – innovating with alternative meats, plant-based milks and upcycled snacks that cater to every craving.
As we kickstart 2022, here are eight sustainable food trends you can look forward to:
1. Edible Packaging
To reduce the use of plastics packaging, many companies are innovating with edible food packaging that’s made of materials such as lipids, proteins and polysaccharides. What’s great is that these planet friendly wraps extend shelf life, food quality and hygiene.
For instance, U.S.-based Appeel Sciences has created an invisible, plant-based edible skin that can slow down the respiration rate of fruits and vegetables. This will remove the need for plastics and also extend the shelf life of food, thereby reducing food waste.
2. More wholesome plant–based alternatives
While plant-based and alternative proteins are better for the planet, some of them can be highly processed and high in sodium and saturated fats. Luckily, there will be more wholesome and nutritional plant-based options to come.
Both Singapore-based Karana and US-based Jack & Annie’s creates meat alternatives with jackfruit as a base. Portland company AKUA has also created a Kelp Burger made from ocean-farmed kelp. Did you know? Kelp is an extremely sustainable plant that helps absorb carbon from our atmosphere.
3. Eco-labelling on Food Products
If you’ve ever had trouble looking up the carbon footprint of your food, you’re not alone! Food manufacturers and retailers worldwide are starting to communicate the environmental impact of their food items on their packaging.
Right now, ecolabels are mostly found on plant-based brands such as Quorn or Oatly, some of the largest food manufacturers and retailers are starting to jump onto the eco-labelling bandwagon. From Unilever to M&S, global brands are experimenting with ecolabels that communicate the impact of their food.
4. Upcycled Foods
Tackling the massive challenge of food waste, food companies are innovating with the byproducts of food to create entirely new foods or lifestyle items.
For example, brands such as Toast Ale and Hong Kong’s own Breer use leftover bread from bakeries to brew beer, while UK-based Rubies in the Rubble, collects misshapen and surplus fruits and vegetables and turns them into chutneys and ketchup.
5. Certified Regenerative Foods
‘Regenerative agriculture’ has already been a buzzword for a while, with major food brands from Pepsi Co, to Walmart and General Mills committing to sourcing some of their crops from regenerative farms.
In simple terms, regenerative agriculture is a farming practice that uses more natural processes so that soil health, surrounding ecosystems and wildlife can be protected during farming. Even though many corporations have made regenerative agriculture related commitments, it is hard for consumers to verify this because there are currently no global certifications for regenerative products.
Thankfully, we will be seeing more certified regenerative foods in the near future, as more schemes such as Regenerative Organic Alliance’s ‘Regenerative Organic Label’ are launched.
6. ‘Ancient Grains’ and ‘Forgotten Crops’
If you’re a foodie, you might have heard the term ‘ancient grains’ mentioned more often by chefs, nutritionists and food brands over the past two years. Ancient grains such as amaranth, buckwheat, millet and sorghum are making a comeback, both because they are found to be nutritional powerhouses and because of global demand.
Currently, our world is dominated by four crops: maize, rice, soya bean and wheat. Diversifying our crop sources will benefit farmlands and ease demand for the major crops. UK brand Insane Grain is disrupting the snacking sector with their puffed Sorghum, while Hong Kong’s very own zero-waste store, Liv Zero, has their own in-house ‘Ancient Grains House Blend’ of granola.
7. Potato Milk
Plant-based milks such as oat, almond and cashew milk have already disrupted the dairy market, gaining a significant portion of market share. Swedish brand DUG introduced another novel plant milk last year made from potatoes. Potato milk was developed by Lund University professor Eva Tornberg, using emulsion technology to blend potatoes and rapeseed oil.
Its creaminess and sustainable credentials have caused a lot of hype, but will potato milk catch on here in Hong Kong? Only time will tell!
8. Sustainable Spirits
Although the spirits sector may not be the first to come to mind when thinking of waste, it actually has a relatively high carbon footprint. Processes including distillation and refrigeration consume significant amounts of energy, while bottled spirits also create a lot of packaging waste. Fortunately, brands are innovating at lightning speed, giving us a chance to drink responsibly and sustainably.
To reduce packaging waste, ecoSPIRITS devised a circular solution aimed at reducing packaging by selling spirits to F&B venues in bulk. The circular economy is also increasingly embraced by spirits brands.
Discarded Spirits caught our eye with their circular spirits made of ingredients such as unwanted coffee grounds and leftover citrus husks. Finnish brand Korskenkorva Vodka is another brand to look out for; the brand produces vodka with barley that is regeneratively farmed. It also aims to be carbon neutral by 2050!
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