Blood & Roots – Turning Waste into Food

A substantial proportion of the food produced today is lost in the steps from being produced to ending up on store shelves. Perfectly useable raw materials become waste, animal feed, or biogas – just because they look different or due to a lack of demand. The Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL) is collaborating with Axfoundation and a wide range of partners to make use of these underutilized resources by upgrading them into tasty, healthy, and sustainable food products. The aim is to contribute to increased resource efficiency and profitability in the Swedish grocery sector.

Irregularly shaped carrots are just one example of a resource that is lost in the step between production and grocery trade.

Irregularly shaped carrots are just one example of a resource that is lost in the step between production and grocery trade.

The Issue

Shells, irregularly shaped vegetables, and meat by-products are only a few examples of resources in Swedish primary production and food industry that are underutilized. For instance, half of the meat by-products from beef and pork are used for biogas or feed, even though they could become food for humans. Significant volumes of vegetables are discarded before they even reach the store – because of appearance, e.g., incorrect size. The reason for this waste of resources is often the low profitability of these types of raw materials. This is due to, for example, a lack of infrastructure and logistics, the fact that buyers have high standards, or consumer’s attitude. To achieve the Swedish interim target “An increased share of food production should reach stores and consumers by 2025”, all actors in the Swedish food chain need to move from mapping to action.

Our Solution

In the Blood & Roots project, Axfoundation is working with partners to map and assess the potential of raw materials that have previously become waste, biogas, or feed. The project, led by IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, investigates the risk, profitability, and environmental impact of various underutilized resources in vegetable farming and meat production.

At Torsåker Farm, Axfoundation’s center for the sustainable food systems of the future, new foods are being developed from raw materials or resources that are safe and environmentally sustainable. The ambition is to contribute to tasty and healthy food served in the public sector, for example in schools or retirement homes.

Almost a third of all food produced globally is currently wasted or lost along the food chain. This is an enormous waste of resources that also causes major environmental impacts and climate emissions.

– Elvira Molin, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

Veronica Öhrvik leads Axfoundation's efforts in the Blood & Roots initiative.

Veronica Öhrvik leads Axfoundation's efforts in the Blood & Roots initiative.

Our Work

At Torsåker Farm, Axfoundation’s innovation and development team focuses on developing new food products, putting emphasis on the products’ taste and consumer acceptance. The total nutritional value and environmental impact is also considered. The work is being done in close collaboration with sensory experts at Ipsos to develop products that suit both younger and older people.

Thanks to our test kitchens and our strong innovation and development team at Torsåker Farm, we are well-suited to develop products that can be used by, for example, school kitchens or retirement homes.

– Veronica Öhrvik, Project Manager Future Food, Axfoundation

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Food That Doesn’t Become Food

  • Every year, 38 kg of food per person is lost before the food even reaches the store shelves.  
  • Nearly half of the meat by-products from beef and pork ends up as biogas or feed, instead of becoming food. Blood is delicious in pancakes! 
  • One out of every six carrots is lost after harvest due to being the ‘wrong’ size or being broken. 
  • When pressing fruits and berries, around 25% becomes press residues, where a significant portion of the nutrients – fibers, minerals, and antioxidants – are found. Apple press residues are perfect for bread! 
  • To use the entire food is not profitable today because regulations and trade standards are interpreted unnecessarily strictly, and consumers have unreasonable demands. 

Partners

The project is run by IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and is carried out in collaboration with Axfoundation, the association Matsvinnet, Ipsos and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) / Department of Energy and Technology.

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