Agriculture, Food and Beverage

‘Ugly’ cornflakes are getting a makeover as craft beer

A pint of beer is poured into a glass in a bar in London, Britain June 27, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls - RC145B9CFB40

Not your average pint. Image: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Emma Charlton
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Agriculture, Food and Beverage

Would you drink beer made from ugly cornflakes?

Cereal giant Kellogg’s and UK brewers Seven Bro7hers think you should. They’ve recycled rejected flakes from a factory in Manchester to make Throw Away IPA, cutting food waste into the bargain. Cornflakes that didn’t pass quality control replace some of the wheat grain in the beer mix.

Using byproducts to make something people want taps into a growing awareness of how much we throw away every day and the need to cut down landfill. Statistics show more than a third of the world’s food is never consumed, and the global economy loses more than $900 billion annually from food loss and waste.

 How and where waste occurs.
How and where waste occurs. Image: World Resources Institute

It’s an area explored by the World Economic Forum’s agriculture, food and beverage work. With the global population expected to increase to nearly 10 billion by 2050, boosting demand for food, policy makers are under pressure to address the scarcity of many resources, and cutting waste is one of the central challenges.

Technology could also play a role, but investment in this area has been relatively low. Just $14 billion has been invested in roughly 1,000 food systems-focused startups since 2010, according to the Forum’s data.

And while companies and governments are aware of the issues, they represent a large mountain to scale. Reducing food loss and waste by 25% by 2050 would close the food gap by 12%, according to the World Resources Institute.

 Cereals are where some of the biggest losses occur.
Cereals are where some of the biggest losses occur. Image: FAO

The good news is that rising awareness means concrete action is more likely to be taken. In 2018 the EU adopted new legislation that called for its member countries to reduce food waste at each stage of the supply chain.

And the cornflake beer isn’t a one off.

 Turning cornflakes into beer cuts food waste.
Turning cornflakes into beer cuts food waste. Image: Seven Bro7hers Brewery
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In Kenya a project has helped cut mango waste. Around 300,000 tons are lost each year because they’re not harvested in time or processed fast enough. Local business Azuri Health, helped by international initiative SAVE FOOD, turns surplus mangos into dried fruit.

While these initiatives are relatively small, they underscore how we could all make a difference.

In the UK a nationwide initiative called Love Food Hate Waste helped cut household food waste by more than 20% in the five years to 2012, via an education collaboration between the government, businesses, trade bodies and local authorities. And it’s an ongoing project, with a weekly newsletter offering recipes and tips for using scraps.

“Saving food does a lot more than just saving money,” the organisers say. “Every single slice of bread, potato and chicken breast saved makes a difference. It's good for our communities, our country and our planet, as well as our pockets.”

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Related topics:
Agriculture, Food and BeverageFuture of the EnvironmentFood SecuritySustainable Development
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