Ground Rules

Operating out of San Francisco, Ground Rules upcycles imperfect and leftover fruits and vegetables to produce all-natural, plant-based crisps.

The brand uses a patented dehydration technology licensed by Treasure8, a regenerative food-tech company that promotes upcycling technology and partnerships to tackle climate change and food waste.

The range is made of single ingredients snacks branded Naked Beets and Virgin Apple with varieties Pink Lady and Granny Smith.


Founded in 2013 by Daniel Kurzrock, ReGrained upcycles spent grain from the beer brewing process to produce snack bars. The company uses a patent-pending technology called SuperGrain+.

The first ReGrained snacks in honey cinnamon, chocolate coffee and blueberry sunflower flavours hit the shelves in 2018, packed in a fully-compostable wrapper the start-up created in-house as part of its ‘no-waste’ ethos.

The product line has expanded ever since. The new range ReGrained Puff was launched in March this year. The ReGrained Puff snacks are made through twin-screw extrusion, a process where a blend of ReGrained SuperGrain+ and non-GMO organic corn is expanded and dried, not fried.

The process, ReGrained claims, delivers a crunchy snack that contains only 100 calories per 39-piece serving, a good source of fibre and zero saturated and trans fats.


Foodini 3D food printer. Photo as seen on the company website

Foodini is a 3D food printing kitchen appliance brought to market by Barcelona-based Natural Machines. With Foodini, the company aims to promote the use of scraps typically thrown away.

Natural Machines explains that Foodini is a gadget that “enables you to personalise food, eat healthier, improve kitchen efficiency and lower food waste”.

Foodini has been working with chefs who are now using the technology to deliver stunning presentations with consistency on the plate.

The uptake among chefs is on the up. Bocuse D’Or winner Viktor Örn Andrésson has used fish trimmings to create an elaborate dish, and Foodini has reported that other chefs who repurpose potato peels to create delicate garnishes.

Rubies in the Rubble

A UK company, Rubies in the Rubble was founded in 2012 by Jenny Dawson. After moving to London from Scotland and starting a job in finance, Dawson began reading about the problem of food waste. Shocked by the amount of fruit and veg that is rejected because it doesn’t look perfect, she began rescuing produce from New Covent Garden market and experimenting in the kitchen with childhood recipes.

Today, Rubies in the Rubble is an award-winning brand making condiments from surplus food.

The range comprises nine products including plant-based mayonnaise, tomato and banana ketchup, and relish in a variety of flavours from apples and pear to chilli onion.

Imperfect Foods

Ben Simon and Benjamin Chesler founded Imperfect Foods in 2015 to reduce food waste and build a better food system for everyone. The company is now a profitable online grocery delivery brand.

Imperfect Foods provides grocery delivery service rescuing and redistributing food across multiple grocery categories – produce, shelf-stable goods, dairy, meat and seafood.

Last May, the company closed a Series C funding round of $72 million, bringing the total capital raised to date to $119 million. The Series C was led by Insight Partners, with the participation of existing investors Norwest Venture Partners, Silicon Valey Bank, and Maveron.

Imperfect Foods has reported that average order sizes have doubled year over year, and weekly order volumes have doubled since January.


Xoca, the prebiotic soda brand founded in 2017 by Jacob Lopata, is headquartered in Chicago. Prebiotics are a type of fibre that serve as food for probiotics, the friendly microorganisms that live in the gut.

Lopata started the company as he discovered that 600,000 tons of cacao fruit pulp are discarded every year. Product development led to Xoca, an all-natural prebiotic soda made from discarded and underappreciated parts of the cacao fruit.

Lopata describes the brand as a range of naturally fermented prebiotic soda, “crafted with 100% upcycled Ecuadorian cacao fruit juice and sparkling water to provide an amazing taste with real benefits”.

Production is simple. “We gently reduce cacao fruit juice and mix it with sparkling spring water and other natural ingredients like mint and ginger,” reads a statement on the Xoca website.


Fooditive sweetener. Photo as seen on the company website

Operating out of Rotterdam, Fooditive is an all-natural sweetener made of apples and pear. Fooditive was founded by Moayad Abushokhedim in 2018.

A zero-calorie sweetener, Fooditive claims to provide clean taste and functionality similar to sugar. “In addition, it has the most desirable digestive endurance and does not cause any tooth corrosion,” reads a statement on the company website.

In January, Fooditive announced that work is under way to develop a range of other products in food ingredients, the specifics of which will be revealed later this year.

The sweetener complies with EU organic standards, which has led to Fooditive being awarded the Skal certification; it can also produce an organic sweetener next to its regular one.

In 2019, Fooditive partnered with sustainable third-party production company Bodec, allowing the zero-calorie sweetener to reach consumers through products in Dutch supermarkets. This year, it will be further distributed to various food and beverage companies across the Netherlands. 

The Fooditive sweetener is available in different composition: regular, liquid and syrup.

Fooditive is in the process to get the EFSA applications of novel food and additives. Plans on the table include the opening of a branch in Stockholm, expanding to the UK and Jordan, where Fooditive founder is originally from.

Looking ahead

Clearly, entrepreneurs in the US are leading the way in embracing the upcycle movement, and the Upcycled Food Association (UFA) is a testament to the trend in this country.

A non-profit organisation, UFA was formed in 2019 by a group of upcycled food companies and it has been focused on reducing food waste by growing the upcycled food economy worldwide. The full list of upcycled food brands is available on the UFA website.

The upcycled food sector is a booming marketplace. Future Market Insights released a report this year with data published by Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data, ReFED. The research revealed that food waste was a sector worth $46.7 billion in 2019 and has an expected annual growth rate of 5% for the next 10 years.

If these numbers are anything to go by, the time is now to tap into a creative and fruitful sector.

Date published: 6 July 2020

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