Until the end of the 20th century, disposal of food wastes was not considered as a matter of concern. Particularly, increase of food production without improving the efficiency of the food systems was the prevalent policy. This consideration increased generation of wasted food along supply chains. In the 21th century, escalating demands for processed foods have required identification of concrete directions to minimize energy demands and economic costs as well as reduce food losses and waste.
Today, food wastes account as a source of valuable compounds and deal with the prospects of feeding fast growing population. Perspectives originate from the enormous amounts of food-related materials (food “losses”, “wastes”, “by-products” or “wasted by-products”), which are discharged worldwide and the existing technologies that promise not only the recovery, but also the recycling and sustainability of valuable ingredients inside food chain.
The prospect of recovering valuable compounds from food by-products is a story that started few decades ago. Citrus peel was one of the first by-products to be utilized for the recovery of essential oils and flavonoids, and their re-utilization as additives and flavorings in foods and fruit juices. Even earlier, solvent extraction had been applied to recover oil from olive kernels, which are one of the by-products derived from olive oil production.
Nowadays, olive kernels are considered an established commodity similarly to olive fruit, whereas researchers focus on the recovery of polyphenols from olive mill wastewater. Over the last decade, several companies have started commercializing the latest process and are ambitious to turn this waste into valuable compounds. In the field of animal-derived side streams, cheese whey constitutes the most intensely investigated food by-product and represents a successful reference of valorization. Protein concentrates and various sugar derivatives are the prominent compounds derived from this source, as reflected by the numerous processes and products exist in the market.
Read the whole article in my Elsevier SciTech Connect Blog: