The social impact business Matriark Foods produces upcycled products to scale access to healthy foods that are good for people and the planet.
Matriark converts surplus foods and produce scraps, which the company’s Founder and CEO Anna Hammond calls “remnants,” into foods for foodservice retail and emergency food aid. Currently, the company produces sauces and broth as well as soups and stews, all of which are Upcycled Certified.
“We mitigate the negative effects that food waste has on global warming while creating greater access to healthy food for all people and extra revenue streams for farmers,” Hammond tells Food Tank.
During Matriark’s early days, they established relationships with manufacturing facilities that produced products such as carrot and celery sticks that didn’t use the entire vegetable. These partners “really saw a business opportunity to make money back on money they’d already spent.” This work also gave the companies a “great environmental impact story,” Hammond says, because they were preventing these remnants from ending up in landfills.
Since the company’s start, the upcycled food movement has continued to grow thanks in part to the work of the Upcycled Food Association, of which Matriark is a founding member. The Association, made up of more than 250 companies, works to establish upcycling as a critical solution to tackle food waste and the climate crisis.
In addition to awareness raising and working to increase investments in the upcycled industry, the Association developed the Upcycled Certified Program, the world’s first third-party certification program for upcycled food ingredients and products.
“There’s always greenwashing out there, unfortunately, and you can just say that something is climate friendly,” Hammond tells Food Tank. But, she continues, “it actually has to be climate friendly in order to do the work we all strive for.”
The label displayed on certified products helps consumers put their dollars toward items that have a smaller impact on the environment.
Eventually, Hammond hopes that companies opt for upcycled ingredients automatically. “In a perfect world this becomes the norm and we design waste out of the system, ” Hammond says.
And while there is still progress to be made before consumers fully understand and embrace upcycled products, Hammond tells Food Tank that it is possible to encourage this shift through meaningful connections with eaters. “You have to meet people on the platform that they care about.”
Listen to the full conversation with Anna Hammond on Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg HERE to hear more about the benefits of the Upcycled Certified program, Matriark’s recent work with food banks, and the changes Hammond sees in the world of food business.
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Photo courtesy of Nick Fewings, Unsplash