Everything that hits our kitchen tables starts with agriculture. More so today than ever before, agriculture, economics and sustainability are driving in the same direction. New innovations around feeding our food, manufacturing it and repurposing its waste are leading to a more secure global food source.
In October 2023, the International Companies (including Green Field Solutions and International Ingredient Corporation) hosted the St. Louis AgriBusiness Club for a panel discussion on the ways we are repurposing with purpose within food and feed manufacturing.
Like everything else, the food industry has changed. Food manufacturers are demanding a one-stop-shop for their entire waste management platform. Green Field Solutions’ General Manager, Tony Armitage, talked to the AgriBusiness Club about this expanding and exacting expectation.
“Today, if you are a major CPG company with 40+ facilities, you’re looking for an enterprise-wide solution for all of your by-products and co-products across all of your facilities,” Armitage said. “That’s a tall order since the skillsets for managing recycling and organic by-products and solid waste are different.
“Ultimately, that’s why the International Companies created Green Field Solutions — to say ‘yes’ to the food industry.”
Diamonds in the rough
Approximately 3-5 percent of all ag inputs into food factories need to be reprocessed. While that number may seem relatively small, it can add up to millions of tons of food waste every year being landfilled. In addition to the obvious environmental impact, this approach to food waste management is expensive and unsustainable.
“One of our clients has factories all over the world and produces 85 million pounds of ice cream waste every year,” said Armitage. “Identifying an alternative for land-spreading that waste was extremely complex. By identifying new markets for those products in animal diets, we’ve completely transformed how they do things.”
Emulsifiers in ice cream are what makes it “extremely complex” to repurpose. Through extensive research, GFS presented a game-changing solution for the frozen dessert. It’s capitalizing on diamonds in the rough like these that makes GFS unique. We take unassuming raw materials and create long-term value for our clients.
Feeding our food
Who loves bacon? There’s a 40% chance your last serving of pork was fed a diet containing our ingredients. Those ingredients were once nothing more than food scraps at a manufacturing facility. This is a circular model and it is redefining how our food is fed, which is a good thing, because feeding our food is expensive and agriculturally taxing. In fact, 60-70% of the cost of raising animals, like pigs, goes into feeding them.
So, is it possible to reduce feed costs while feeding animals nutritiously while securing our long-term food source while making our planet a better place while creating value for our clients? Yes. We are redefining how we feed our food, and it has a domino affect that extends to feed costs, animal health, carbon emissions, and shared value.
“We look at the ingredients and nutrients,” said Jason Frank, Ph.D., Vice President of Nutrition and Product Development at IIC. “We look deeper than the proteins….we analyze amino acids, specific fibers and carbohydrates.”
Frank added that IIC monitors 4,000-5,000 data points to assure every ingredient contains the right nutrient composition for its consumer. It is with great sophistication and innovation that we feed the animals that feed us.
New challenges in Agribusiness & Sustainability
It’s common to partner with companies that have very difficult waste management challenges. One common challenge is setting and tracking sustainability goals.
“Companies aren’t fully taking advantage of opportunities to achieve and to communicate their contributions to a more sustainable world,” said Jennifer Luchte, Sustainability Director at GFS. “For example, Scope 3 Emissions are a major challenge. Companies could be taking inventory of all kinds of measurements up and down their value chain.”
It can be frustrating and limiting for sustainably-minded companies to be unable to capture critical data across their facilities and across their supply chain. However, when the right tools are within reach, so are their sustainability goals. At the heart of it all is robust data.
“We help companies better understand their operations,” Luchte said. “By connecting what happens at the plant level to what is understood at the corporate level, we increase visibility over their operations and position them to be more successful in setting and achieving their sustainability goals.”